We had a client with an InfoSite that not only ranked number one on Google for “dental implants” in their city, but also ranked A and D in the local search results for the same phrase. Sounds like great positioning, right? Despite this apparent SEO success, the client — rightfully — complained that the website wasn’t earning any revenue. So we looked at how well the InfoSite was converting and we found that the practice was regularly getting phone calls and emails. To figure out where the conversion process was breaking down, we decided to listen to the calls. You won’t believe what we heard.
One of the calls was a conversation between the caller, a patient looking to make an appointment with the practice, and the office manager. The patient explains that she is missing a tooth and would like to have it replaced with a dental implant. In response, the office manager tells her that they don’t offer that service. You heard that right. The office manager turned a patient away because she did not know the services the practice offers. And just like that, poof, a $3,000–5,000 lead disappeared.
These situations arise all the time and, when it comes to dealing with new and existing patients, an untrained staff can be one of the biggest sources of waste in a practice. You need to listen to your patient calls. This isn’t the first time someone like me makes this plea to dentists and doctors, but this weakness can make or break a practice, and it’s something that, in principle, can be corrected with the right kind of training. So I can’t bring enough attention to the fact that listening in on patient calls is one of the most important things you can do to increase your practice’s revenue intake.
Common Patient Call Bloopers
We don’t offer that —
You might think that the above case with the turned-back implant patient is a rare case. It really isn’t. I’ll give you another example. We had another client whose Invisalign InfoSite was earning him a stream of phone calls, but, again, he wasn’t seeing much business out of it. When we listened to the calls, we found that his office manager was telling prospective patients to go see another orthodontist. Can you believe that? And it wasn’t just once, it was a recurring problem. I can sense you wincing right now, thinking of all those patients the practice lost as a result.
We don’t accept your insurance —
Another common mistake I’ve heard is when the patient asks if the practice takes his or her insurance and the office manager simply says “no.” The office manager might very well be right, but it’s still the wrong response to give. A better approach is the work with the patient, asking what kind of dental service they’re looking for and offering advice on getting the most out of that person’s benefits. You can also talk about the financing options the practice offers and other offers the patient can take advantage of. The point is, by telling the patient “no” you lose an opportunity to gain new business.
This treatment is outside your price range —
Patients call all the time to inquire about prices. A common response to this call is to give the price and let the patient filter him- or herself out. But, giving the patient only the price doesn’t give that person all the necessary information to make a decision on whether or not to schedule an appointment. Your staff should also explain why being treated at your practice is worth the cost. That way, you turn a “price shopping” phone call into an opportunity to earn a new patient.
The Costliest Mistakes are Often the Most Subtle
Even if you don’t catch your staff making as egregious a mistake as either of the three above, they could be making subtle errors in how they speak to patients over the phone. I’ll give you a personal example. I’ve never been very good with clients over the phone, because I’m a nerd and I look at data all day, and I found that the tone I was unconsciously taking was hurting my ability to help clients. Thankfully, my managers listened to my phone calls and coached me on how to improve. The same logic applies to your practice. If the staff member on the phone isn’t making patients happy, you can use it as an opportunity to help your staff improve how they talk to existing and prospective patients.
There are many little things that your staff could be doing to hurt your ability to turn leads into patients. This doesn’t mean you have to constantly take time off of work to sit on the phone, because thanks to modern call tracking software we can record these phone calls and you can listen to them when you have time. The point is, by listening in on phone calls to your practice you can uncover these problems and you can take steps to correct them — and there’s no excuse not to do so.
If you have any questions on how to go about monitoring phone calls to your practice, or if you want to contribute to the discussion, please leave a comment below. You are also more than welcome to contact us at (858) 333-8950.
Formerly at [Tony] Robbins Research International and at Now Media Group as their Director of Marketing, Jonathan has a background in quantitative economics and analytics.