Top 10 strategies to enhance the power of your practice phone

Almost 100 percent of your patient base/scheduling begins with your phone. Are you fully realizing this opportunity with every phone call? Here are 10 tips to make sure you get the most out of every phone call.

Almost 100 percent of your patient base/scheduling begins with your phone. Are you fully realizing this opportunity with every phone call? Vendors, wrong numbers, price shoppers-they all need dentists! Here are 10 tips to make sure you get the most out of every phone call.

Answer the phone by the third ring

Answer the phone by the third ring! If a call goes to voicemail during normal business hours, you want to return it within 10 minutes. What if you miss a call that doesn't leave a voicemail? Use your caller ID to return the call; let the caller know you apologize for missing their call and ask how may you assist them.

Customize your greeting-and be consistent!

Use your company brand to customize your greeting. Example: "It’s a great day at Family Dental, this is Mary Beth, how may I brighten your smile today?” Consistent, short, branded messaging that represents your practice. Be different than your competitors, but more importantly be memorable.

Related reading: Dental office dynamics: Four elements of a great phone call

Change your voicemail daily

Change your voicemail daily to reflect the current day. Communicate to the caller that they can expect a return call within 10 minutes. Don’t leave a long-winded message, detailing hours, lunch hours or press one for accounts, two for appointments-people hang up.

Have a message tracker beside your phone to document messages left for immediate follow up, ensuring no one falls through the cracks. Document every message and when you return the patients call.

Action taken:

Patient response:

Next Step:


Anyone should be able to open a patient’s chart, have enough details to continue the last conversation and know what the next step is.

Related reading: The top 7 mistakes dental practices make during patient phone calls

Service with a smile

Be warm, friendly and engaging. Callers should feel you smiling. Being in a hurry can be perceived as rude, rushed or disrespectful. Slow down: Make it a goal to hear often how nice you are! If you don’t hear from patients how wonderful your greeting was or how nice you are, you might have some things to change.

Use the patient’s name, often!

May I ask whom I am speaking with?”


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Don’t ask a caller if they are a patient

Are you a patient here?” Replace with “When was the last time we’ve seen you?” You avoid the risk of offending someone who has been seen in your office.

Know your schedule

Know the next two available openings for:


New Patients



You are in control of the schedule, so offer two options. This lets the patient feel in control without you losing control of your schedule.

Related reading: 3 reasons new employees shouldn't answer the phones

Be a master at taking notes

Make detailed notes for every appointment scheduled; insert a dateline, who scheduled the appointment and other information that will allow the conversation to be continued upon the patient’s arrival or if they call back and another team member answers the call. (Not to mention, patients appreciate feeling that they have been heard.)

ASAP means VIP

Ask any patient who has to schedule three or more weeks out if they would like to be placed on your “VIP/Priority list” to come in sooner if an appointment becomes available that fits their scheduling needs. Build that priority list to keep your schedule full!

Be sure to insert dateline when placing appointment on ASAP/quick fill, as well as detailed notes on their appointment preferences. This saves time on calling only patients whose needs fit your open appointment times.

Always attach a dated note if you reach out and offer the patient an appointment; you don’t want to double call or not have a clue why a patient is calling back.

Related reading: 10 tips for handling new patient calls with confidence

Mind your manners!

Thank the patient:Mrs. Jones thank you for calling Exceptional Smiles today, is there anything else I can do for you?” When they thank you, your response could be:  “It was my pleasure!” You want to leave the patient hanging up with a smile.

Maximize your practice opportunity by implementing these 10 strategies over the next 10 days! Start with an introspective look at your team, step out of your comfort zone and climb the ladder of opportunity that your phones provide with every call!

Scheduling appointments is based on emotions. People do business with people that they connect with and like!