For the modern dental practice whether it be small or large, specialized offerings of a doctor answering service are factors that can create efficiency, increase patient satisfaction, and build a stronger bottom line. When we look at the needs of the modern dental practice, it reveals the benefits of a customized phone answering service to fill those needs.
Although dental offices receive predominantly regular appointment and emergency calls, successfully handling them to guarantee patient satisfaction requires an understanding of how medical practices operate. It is not uncommon for busy practices to have one or two dental assistants that also act as receptionists. Dental practices try to schedule appointment days as a mix of routine procedures that fit comfortably around more complex procedures.
Unfortunately, schedule changes and unforeseen issues that may lengthen processes will regularly wreak havoc with the schedule and their ability to properly and promptly field patient calls. The same can be said for larger practices with several dentists, larger staffs, and a dedicated receptionist. Here, the problem is only exacerbated by the larger number of patients being seen each day and the wider variety of procedures.
While patients calling to make standard appointments as well as new patient enquiries can be seen on the surface as routine, when the practice gets busy, letting these calls go through to voicemail is not an option. Just as with an emergency caller where the patient is distraught and in pain, a current patient – and especially a potential patient caller – will quickly look for other options. This is true for all but the staunchest supporters of a dental practice. That’s why a friendly and informed voice that can accurately represent the practice is crucial at times when the practice gets busy.
More than just a phone answering service, a doctor answering service has a special understanding of how dental practices operate. A dental answering service can work with the practice to set up protocols that ensure that each patient’s call is handled properly. Patient scheduling, canceling and confirming appointments, providing answers to frequently asked questions, and giving directions to the location requires an established understanding of the practice.
The caller should not have to wait for a return call from a dental assistant to have a general insurance question answered. The ability to easily set up protocols for dealing with general and practice-specific questions such as these with the specialized doctor answering service makes them a seamless adjunct to the practice itself.
Both routine and urgent care calls requires empathy and an understanding of how the patient feels in addition to a solution that is delivered quickly and professionally. The call center agent must understand the basics of dental procedures as well as have access and training in protocols established by the practice to determine the urgency of the appointment.
It’s not uncommon for new patients and even routine appointment callers to wish to speak to a dental assistant regarding details on a procedure or postoperative protocol. Knowing how to handle these calls and having a protocol for either letting the patient know exactly when they will get a call back or how to put the caller through to the right person in real time is imperative.
A doctor answering service is set up to be able to separate real emergencies from simple inquiries. This is even more vital when an emergency call comes in after business hours. Knowing how to reach the right staff member and at what number is something that may change on a daily basis, based on emergency level, or both. If the patient emergency warrants it (as defined by the practice), the virtual receptionist should be able to patch or dispatch calls directly to an on-call dentist so that the patient can speak to them immediately.
Professionally trained agents at a phone answering service that specializes in medical and dental practices have the people and patient skills to help calm callers that may be frustrated, in pain or distraught, especially when the dental practice is not open. With so many choices available to patients, dental practices must ensure that every patient encounter by phone is prompt, courteous, sympathetic, and most of all, pointedly informative for the patient’s needs. Since the word of mouth from every patient is the best form of advertising that any practice can get, making sure that the service exceeds their expectations will determine the growth and even the survival of the practice in the marketplace.