The Phone: Life-Line to Your Practice
Even with all of the incredible technological advances that dentistry has enjoyed over the last four decades, the telephone is still the life-line to your practice. The telephone is the method that new and existing patients choose to contact us most of the time. As doctors, we don’t usually answer our telephones, so we are not aware of the challenges or the missed opportunities that are occurring on our telephone systems. After my neck injury and surgery, I had the opportunity to answer phones in my practice, and what I learned was priceless.
You are essentially blind when you answer the telephone!
You have no idea who is calling or why. The call could be one that you could quickly take to accept a confirmation, or it could be a new patient with severe dental anxiety that is interested in sedation. I had no way of knowing, and I would get myself trapped in long exchanges while someone waited in front of me to make an appointment. I felt firsthand the pain of being on the front lines of a dental office! More than that, I came to realize that investing in an intelligent phone system was my next priority.
The Take Home Message
Answering the telephone blindly in a dental office is inefficient, exhausting, and unproductive.
I had used an outside company for their recall program, but their integrated phone system did not fit our budget. Our team was already using Practice by Numbers (PbN) to monitor our goals for hygiene team performance, tracking treatment acceptance of new and existing patients, and simplifying our receivables process. I checked the PbN website and found my solution!
The Solution: Smart Caller-ID
Smart Caller-ID by Practice by Numbers takes the guesswork out of answering the phones.
Phone IQ pairs with Open Dental and allows you to know who is calling after the first ring. You can identify the caller as a new or existing patient.
For existing patients, their information appears on the computer monitor after the first ring and instantly provides what you need to know about the caller.
- Are they scheduled for an appointment?
- Are they scheduled for their next recall visit?
- Do they have an overdue balance?
- Do they have outstanding treatment that needs to be scheduled?
- Are there family members who need appointments for maintenance or operative visits?
At a glance, each team members sees the caller’s information, and can decide who might best serve this client. If it appears to be a new patient, that call would be picked up by someone who had time to interview the patient and gather all information needed to schedule an appointment. A call from a patient who had an outstanding balance would be answered by the person most familiar with the account, in order to help efficiently resolve financial concerns. Critical family file information automatically displays, which allows team members to remind parents that other family members need appointments for hygiene or restorative care. Multiple categories of alerts are displayed so that team members are aware of areas of concern such as failed appointments.
Tools for Managers
All team members that answer the phone will find the ease of use and overall functionality of Phone IQ to be a great asset. Managers can use Phone IQ to understand many key performance indicators that relate to the functionality of their telephone systems. Phone IQ tells you the percentage of calls that are answered on the first, second, third… ring. Another great feature is that the software tracks the amount of time that is spent on the telephone with each insurance company. This is a very valuable tool in helping the practice understand the true cost of a relationship with each insurer.
The software tracks all calls to and from the office. Identification of calls that are missed from potential new patients allows your team to give priority focus to returning those calls. Most practices find that they are able to convert many of these callers into new patients!
Our team found that we were missing a lot of calls between noon and 2 pm. We modified the schedulers’ lunch breaks and dramatically reduced these missed opportunities. According to dental consultant, Sandy Pardue of Classic Practice Resources, over 70% of calls that go to voicemail result in the patient hanging up without leaving a message. Using Phone IQ, the front office team can follow-up on missed calls with confidence, and managers can see if calls are returned, and how long it took for the staff to return the call.
Phone IQ is compatible with both analog (landline) and VoIP( internet) telephone systems.
To learn more about Phone IQ and Practice by Numbers comprehensive data analytic dashboards for dentists, click here or call 866-216-8486.