By Dr. Fanar Swaida
Regardless of what business you run, customers always want a prompt response and immediate solution to their problems. This is especially true if you’re running a dental office. Imagine if one of your patients is in excruciating pain, and they would like to seek immediate assistance – only to find that no one picks up the phone in your office. Imagine how frustrated and angry they would feel?
The Importance of Phone Calls
You might not believe it, but around 80% of business communication occurs through the telephone. Most dental practices nowadays have a “click-to-call” widget on their websites for booking an appointment. According to Google, 70% of mobile searchers often end up calling a business from the ads that appear in the search. But imagine their frustration and disappointment when they call and no one answers – or hangs up too soon!
When a prospective patient calls, your staff has only a few seconds to impress them – and convince them to book an appointment. Did you know that around 87% of new patients directed to a voicemail, put on hold, or not appropriately greeted, never call back! Imagine the revenue you could generate if your staff could attend those calls – and convert them into new appointments? On the other hand, 86% of customers are willing to pay 25% more if they have a positive customer service experience.
The Cost of Missing Phone Calls!
Most dental office managers believe that missed calls are not a big issue. While dentists and dental office managers strive to provide top-notch services to their patients who are already inside the office, they often overlook the importance of telephonic communication.
The fact is that each call your staff misses can cost you in the form of your reputation and lost revenues. According to the latest statistics, an average dental office in North America answers 80% of their calls from prospective patients. Out of which, the staff can convert less than half of them into new or emergency dentist appointment. On the other hand, the top 10% of dental practices respond to about 95% of the calls and have a conversion rate of about 75%.
Why Dental Offices Miss Calls from Patients?
There are several reasons why your staff is unable to attend to all the calls received at your dental office. Some of them include:
- Understaffed office – when you do not have sufficient staff at your practice, they would be mostly engaged in performing essential tasks like handling paperwork, assisting the dentist, or sterilizing the equipment – and they will not have time to attend to patient phone calls.
- Insufficient Training – even if your staff manages to attend every call they receive, if they are not properly trained in telephonic etiquettes, they will not be able to effectively convert each call into a new patient. If the callers are not greeted warmly or if their query is not answered effectively, they will ultimately hang-up.
- Faulty System – in many cases, dentists do not even realize that their telephone line is not working – until they are made aware of it by an angry patient who manages to walk-in directly into your office – to complain.
- Voicemail – patients seek quick answers and solutions; they do not like being put on hold for too long, or hearing a voicemail after 35-40 seconds of ringing. When this happens, patients normally hang-up, and switch to another practice that offers a better customer communication experience.
How Missed Calls are Affecting your Dental Practice?
So, what does that mean for you? Here’s how missed calls are affecting your business:
- Missed Calls = Lost Revenue
Each call your staff misses, you are losing potential customers – and the revenue you could have earned. According to statistics, if your office misses 50 calls per month, and if the callers were seeking dental treatment costing less than $300 – even then your practice would be losing more than $15,000 per month – just because of missed calls.
- Loss of Reputation
Dental patients, just like other customers, do not like it when they are not given proper attention. This holds especially true in cases when your patients seek emergency dental services – and when they call, they end up hearing the voicemail. This could lead to negative online reviews, thus seriously affecting your practice’s reputation. Not only this, frustrated patients who could not get an appointment when having a dental emergency, would also share their reviews with their friends, family, and neighbours! Don’t let angry customers ruin your brand reputation just because your staff couldn’t pick up their call!
- You Miss out on the Referrals
The success of your practice depends on getting new patients every month – and maintaining the ones you already have. One of the most cost-effective methods of getting new patients is through referrals or word-of-mouth. According to Forbes, referrals are the most valuable form of marketing which requires minimal investment. A happy and satisfied patient will tell others about their experience, thereby increasing your referrals. Don’t let missed calls decrease the number of patients you get from referrals.
So, What’s the Solution?
The fewer calls your staff misses, the higher your chances of getting new patients. Here are a few ways in which you can avoid missed calls at your practice:
- Train your Staff – train your staff to provide top-notch services to the patients over the phone. More importantly, your staff must be trained to provide quick services to patients who are seeking an emergency dentist or an emergency orthodontist appointment. The reason why emergency dental calls are even more important is because this is an opportunity to really show how much you care for your patients nad help them when they need you the most!
- Ensure Sufficient Staff – Make sure that you have sufficient staff available to attend to all calls that your office receives. It’s better to hire someone whose task is to attend calls, reply to chat messages and emails, and manage patient appointments.
- Invest in a Dedicated Telephonic System – nowadays, there are several VoIP telephonic communication systems available, that offer integration with your existing dental office management software. In addition, this software allows you to monitor the percentage of your calls attended, and the ones that were actually converted into new patients.
- Out-of-Office Hour Contact – in case someone is looking for an emergency dentist, you should have a system in place so that you or your staff members could be contacted during weekends, or after business hours – so that they can be provided emergency dental services.
In this era, when dentists worldwide are struggling to get new patients, each missed call could spell trouble for your dental practice. So, why not plug this “revenue leak” and improve your business earnings and ranking by making sure no call to your office goes unattended?
About the author
Dr. Fanar Swaida is a passionate and highly experienced dentist in Mississauga Ontario Canada. After graduating from University of Western Ontario and the University of Toronto Faculty of Dentistry, Dr. Swaida continued his formal education through multiple courses and mini residencies in a variety of dental specialties. Dr. Swaida tries to be available for his patients even during his off time and his number one priority is to make all of his patients feel comfortable and safe when they come to Rockwest Dental Clinic Mississauga.