CDS Member News and Articles
FRONT DESK by Mary M. Byers, CAE :
Stick to the script!
Stick to the script!
November 27, 2007
Watch your words! That’s a powerful piece of advice to dental office personnel. You may be discouraging your patients with what you say—without even knowing it. Take a listen to how Dr. Smith’s staff is missing opportunities daily with patients:
Office Manager: Mr. Jones, this is Carol from Dr. Smith’s office. I’m just calling to make sure you’ll be able to make your appointment this Thursday.
Mr. Jones: Actually, I’m glad you called. I have a conflict and won’t be able to make it.
A better approach: Carol should say, “Mr. Jones, this is Carol from Dr. Smith’s office. I’m calling to remind you of your appointment at 2 p.m. this Thursday. We’re looking forward to seeing you then.”
The difference: The second approach lets Mr. Jones know, in a polite way, that he’s expected to keep his appointment.
Hygienist: Mrs. Wright, would you like to schedule an appointment for your root canal?
Mrs. Wright: No, I’ll call and do it later.
A better approach: Mrs. Wright, which day is better for your root canal appointment, Tuesday or Thursday?
The difference: The better approach telegraphs the importance of scheduling now to Mrs. Wright.
Receptionist: Mr. Thurston, would you like to make a payment today?
Mr. Thurston: No, just bill me, please.
A better approach: How will you be making your payment today, Mr. Thurston?
The difference: The second approach makes it clear that payment is expected at the time of service.
There’s value in developing scripts for your practice so all members of your team use powerful language designed to provide direction to patients. Scripts are “planned phrasing” designed to make it easy to communicate clearly. You can either develop customized scripts for your practice or purchase prewritten scripts from a practice management consultant. Consider the value of scripts:
Confidence. When staff knows what to say and how to say it, they are more likely to communicate with confidence and less likely to stumble while making or confirming appointments or scheduling treatment.
Time saving. Scheduling coordinators will spend less time on the phone when they have the words to effectively appoint patients, respond to questions about insurance and answer questions about procedures. When specific phrases become second nature, chances are the practice will thrive.
Consistency. With everyone speaking from the same script, patients will hear a consistent message from your office. This is important since your words “train” patients regarding what’s acceptable in your office regarding “no-shows,” cancelled appointments, payment expectations and treatment acceptance.
Directness. Patients appreciate a direct approach in communications. They want to hear what you recommend and they expect to hear the pros and cons of each recommendation. If you’re indirect in your treatment plan, patients will be less likely to accept it. When you state what’s necessary clearly and directly, patients take note.
While you may rebel against “having words put in your mouth,” a script actually frees you and other staff members, allowing you to focus on doing your job with confidence, consistency, directness and as efficiently as possible.
CDS presents Front Desk, a column addressing problems dentists and staff members experience in the office. Front Desk is prepared by Mary M. Byers, CAE, a professional speaker and freelance writer. Ms. Byers may be reached at email@example.com or 304-599-6547. Send suggestions for topics to be covered to 8039041886.
© 2007, Chicago Dental Society