What’s the problem in these common scenarios?
1. A potential patient calls and wants to make an appointment for a cleaning. And only for a cleaning.
2. A potential patient calls and only wants to see the Dr for a specific issue and not on-going care
These are typical ways patients enter your practice. The challenge is that neither patient is actually “sold” into hygiene treatment. Yet.
In the first scenario, the patient says she wants a cleaning. This sounds hopeful, but because she doesn’t want to see the dentist, she seems to be approaching this appointment as one would in taking a car to the car wash. I can just roll in, choose the amount of cleaning I want, and then go back home, newly cleaned.
In the second scenario, the patient wants restorative care (give me an oil change and fix that funny noise) and then leave your practice, fully treated. Who needs hygiene when I have been fixed?
Your Hygiene Philosophy
You have to got be crystal clear with your team about your philosophy regarding hygiene treatment because without that clarity I guarantee your patients are going to view hygiene as a nice adjunct to the “real” treatment. As I’ve mentioned before, even using the word cleaning devalues this appointment. Everyone in your practice needs to recognize and believe that hygiene is the backbone of every treatment plan. If your words and deeds don’t communicate this, then your team is going to feel apologetic when they ask patients to make and keep their hygiene appointments.
Intake Call Script
How should your front desk team respond to patients who want to appoint only for a cleaning? There is an old adage about delivering “wow” customer service that provides so much more than the customer first anticipated, that s/he becomes a raving fan customer for life.
If your customer wants a “cleaning,” your team is going to deliver that… and more! Your front desk team is going to agree with the patient that she needs a cleaning and that also she needs the right kind of cleaning – one that is designed perfectly for the patient.
Here is what it could sound like:
Patient: “Hi I want to make an appointment for a cleaning.”
Front Desk: “That’s great, we would welcome you to our practice. You’ll find that our hygienists are truly skilled and that our patients love their hygiene appointments at our office. May I ask what led you to choose our office and what kind of hygiene appointment you need?”
Patient: “I read your google reviews. And what do you mean, what kind of hygiene appointment? I just need a regular cleaning!”
Front Desk: “One thing you’ll find at our office, that our patients really love, is that we make sure every appointment fits the needs of our patients. This saves our patients time and money. You may not have known that there are actually different kinds of cleanings and at our office our hygienists work really hard not only to clean your teeth but to also support your dental and overall health. We want to get you the kind of appointment that actually fits you. Is that something you want too?”
Patient: “Uh, sure.”
Front Desk: “Great! So that we can make sure you get the right kind of appointment, we’re going to schedule you to see the Dr first who will do a thorough exam and make sure there is nothing else happening with your oral health. One of the great benefits of this exam, is that you will then know if there is anything else we can do to support your dental and overall health. Let me ask you a few questions about yourself and then we’ll look at our schedules to determine the best time to see you.”
Highlights of this Script
- It references social proof. Several times during the call, the appointment coordinator described how other patients love this practice. This implies the caller will too.
- The answer was always “Yes … and.” Without using the word “but” the coordinator gave the patient what she was looking for and showed how she will get that procedure plus more.
- It raised dental IQ. As a result of this brief interchange the patient learned there are different kinds of cleanings and these appointments can be customized to fit the patient.
- It differentiated your practice. It’s not your inexplicable policy that patients see the dentist first. Your practice cares about saving the patient time and money. You are providing a benefit to the patient, not to yourself.
I encourage you to work with your front desk team to use or adapt this script. And if you need help in training them… well I do this for a living.