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16th September 2013

Dog and Bone

How the phone is answered is a cause of angst and anxiety for many Practice Managers.  For how many rings is a patient left hanging on the phone, if its answered at all?  What message do you leave on the answerphone?  How do you have a difficult conversation with a patient on the phone whilst more are queuing up behind the desk.  While you are taking a call about clinical waste are you losing a new patient trying to get through?  These difficulties can then be communicated to patient by frustrated staff.  A statistic I`ve seen suggests that 7 out of 10 patients decide not to use a dental practice if their call is answered unprofessionally, or not answered at all.

There might be a new way of tackling the problem.  This is not an advert for the companies concerned, but there is an innovative service available to solve most of these problems.  Commercial telephone answering services are now targeting dental practices with marketing information and I think it is worth considering.  It won`t suit everyone and a lot depends on cost effectiveness, but there are several levels of service available

Mostly, these work as an `overflow` telephone answering service.  There are a dedicated team of PAs who answer each call as though they were sitting behind reception in the practice. The PA follows a specific and consistent protocol when answering the phone, the phone will be answered within 2 rings, and most importantly, they promise she will be as courteous and professional as your own team members.  You provide the script for them to work with and they keep in constant contact with the main team by email.  Alternatively, you may run a quieter practice, where it is not feasible to pay a full time receptionist, and outsourcing your reception would be a perfect cost- effective solution.

Services vary from simple message taking, as a much more person friendly alternative to the answering machine, to have full access to your diary and practice management system.  Costs vary too, but are not as much as employing an on-the-spot person.  Neither is there a contract of employment!

As I said, I`m not recommending this, just pointing out the possibilities.  Google the idea to find service providers.  Just a minute, got to go to answer the phone……

Dr John  Shapter

Topics: Dentists

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