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Offer Something to Turn Callers into New Patients

Jul 2, 2008
I recently evaluated an audit we performed for one of our clients as part of our Practice Audit Program. This monthly program gives the doctor insight into how his or her front office staff is manning the phone lines. We have a "mystery caller" call in each month to ask about various topics. This month, my caller was inquiring about a whitening offer. The woman who answered the phone (we'll call her Lacy) made quite a few drastic mistakes that I thought noteworthy enough to share with all of you...

To begin on a positive note, Lacy knew the various whitening procedures in good detail and she was able to communicate this to the caller. The doctor can congratulate her on that when he sits down for their next training session.

However, take good notes on the following as they are typical - but critical - mistakes that almost every practice makes.

First of all, your staff must ALWAYS refer to teeth whitening procedures as "whitening" not "bleaching." It may sound trivial, but many people hear "bleach" and think the household cleaner, potentially lethal if swallowed. You absolutely do not want that image associated with your services.

On this particular call, Lacy failed to ask for the source the caller was referred by. This is crucial to your success! If your staff is not effectively tracking your marketing, how do you expect to know where to spend your dollar? You could be throwing away thousands each month on wasted marketing and never know it. Ask for the source.

Lacy did ask for the caller's name part way through the call and she politely replied with, "Hi Marcie, I'm Lacy." That was excellent. However, this would have been the perfect time to get the caller's last name, address, and phone number. How will they follow up with her to see if she's still interested in getting her teeth whitened? More money thrown out the window.

This caller (and pretty much every caller who contacts your office) is what we call in the marketing business a "hot" lead. Something interested her in your office and she chose to call YOU, out of all the other dentists in your area. You darn well better treat her with respect and be professional enough to follow through with her. After all, she has a need and you have the service to meet that need - every business owner's dream!!!

Lacy presented the free consultation to the caller, but she did not create urgency. My caller had no reason to make an appointment NOW. Train your staff to present an offer for each week. Guess what the weekly offer is? Whatever the caller is calling about! Post a board by the phones with all the offers you are willing to make. For example, take $100 off your New Patient Exam and X-Rays, $150 off your in-office teeth whitening system, or $50 off your take-home whitening trays.

If someone calls about any one of these offers, tell the caller that if they make their appointment TODAY, they will get $100 off (or whatever the deal is), but if they wait until tomorrow they will have to pay FULL price. I guarantee this will boost your calls-to-appointments ratio. And guess what? The more appointments made, the more patients you will see, and the more money in your pocket.
About the Author
James Erickson is the President of EMC Dental Marketing which gives Dentists a resource for turn-key dental marketing programs and dental practice marketing education including new patient attraction, and internal marketing systems. Visit www.EMCdental.com and get a free practice
building kit sent directly to your home or office.
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