As your dental practice looks to reopen its doors and resume normal operations, it's more important than ever to communicate with your patients and keep them informed during this uncertain time. Below are seven key phone process strategies to strategically put into practice as you begin to see your patients regularly.
Quickly connect patients to someone who can help
- Verify that callers are being routed appropriately - you may need to adjust your call routing schedule if office hours have changed, or route calls back to the office if you have been utilizing a temporary remote workforce.
- Ensure your office is staffed appropriately to handle the volume of calls you will receive upon reopening.
Call back all missed opportunities during closure
- Utilize Call Box's Search for a Call tool or, if you're set up for missed call alert emails, check your inbox to ensure every patient call that was missed during this time of closure is promptly called back and helped.
- Confirm that any patients who were on the books for non-emergency treatments during the temporary closure are immediately followed up with and rescheduled.
Prioritize high-value procedures and treatments
- As many practices are forced to see fewer patients and reduce capacity, consider doubling down on the patients who are booking high-value procedures and be more discerning when it comes to your limited calendar.
Extend your schedule to after-hours and weekend appointments
- In catching up on overdue and rescheduled appointments while continuing to schedule new visits, you may need to temporarily open up your schedule outside of normal operating hours to meet patient demand.
- Patients will undoubtedly have other obligations that have been on hold and are vying for their attention including other medical appointments, social obligations, adjusted work hours, child care, and more. It's important you're able to offer additional appointment times that meet the needs of patients.
Set clear expectations for the appointment
- Besides setting typical expectations, such as directions to the office and what information to bring to the appointment, be prepared to let patients know what to expect coming out of COVID-19.
- Examples: Has the check-in process changed? Should patients wait in their cars? Should patients arrive 15 minutes earlier? Will the appointment take 45 minutes instead of 30 minutes?
Inform patients of how your office is protecting their safety
- Many patients already have apprehension about visiting the dentist, which is only exasperated during this uncertain time. It's important to inform patients of the extensive measures your office has taken to keep patients safe.
- Examples: Have you invested in personal protective equipment? Have you ramped up cleaning and sanitizing efforts at the office? Have you staggered schedules to have less patients in your office at any given time?
Hone in on basic phone handling and scheduling skills
- Despite the many operational adjustments needed coming out of COVID-19, it's important to remain focused on your essential phone handling skills. Prioritize each phone call and stay focused on guiding patient callers to an optimal outcome - a booked appointment.