Episode 835: First Impressions Matter: What’s Your Office’s First Impression?

Uncategorized May 09, 2024

 When it comes to a prospective patient’s first phone call to your practice, there is magic that should be happening to convert the call into a visit. Tiff and Dana talk through that process, including the right energy to give, what to say, the information to request, and more.

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The Dental A Team (27:44.078)

Hi everyone, we are so excited to be back today. We've got more implementable tips for you. Things we've been talking about recently are appointment efficiencies, making sure that our patients are getting the best experience possible. That's always the dental A -team way. And today I've got Dana back at it again with me. My girl of systems, I tell you, I go check her constantly for systems training and for hygiene, honestly, but she has helped me very recently with a lot of hygiene tips and tricks. So.


She's my girl, Dana. Thank you so much for being here. I love podcasting with you. How are you today? Doing pretty good. You know, I'm always excited to spend a little tip time. I do love our podcasting time together and you just, you keep surprising me. I feel like, what is that one movie is that from Moana? You just keep surprising me. I'm like, oh my gosh, Dana's on the road again. Oh my gosh, Dana's gonna call today. Oh my gosh. Like I'm like, where's.


I need my day in a time like I'm not getting her on huddles. I'm not getting her in these spaces. So I said, you know what? That's it. We're doing like two hours of podcasting together. So here we are. Thank you. Thank you for always obliging. Um, I wanted to talk today where we've been talking patient experience and I think we can both agree. And I think most practices agree and practice owners that that experience starts with the phone call, right? Their first interaction with the, with the practice. I remember way back when.


my practice was in like a grocery store complex, right? And we'd get walk -bys all the time. People would come in and they're like, can I schedule an appointment? It was like a normal thing. Apparently it's not that normal. So we don't get walk -in, guys. And it would be really cool if we did because isn't it so much easier to form a relationship with someone in person, right? Even this is like better when we do our virtual clients and we have like our team calls. We do it by video and it's so much better than just the phone call.


Right? Because we can read people, we can see people, they can see us. So our clients that are virtual are like, oh my gosh, we love Dana. How many times do I hear that? Oh my gosh, I love Dana. All of these teams, all of these practice owners, we love Dana. Dana, most of what you do, right, is virtual. You've been in office a lot recently, but a lot of, most of what you do is virtual. You do a lot of team training calls. So just from like your personal experience, we can, we can think about,


The Dental A Team (30:07.022)

like our phone call versus our virtual training, like how much more difficult is it on our 30 minute coaching calls we do with doctors in comparison to our one hour video calls we do with doctors to build that relationship? Like where do you feel it lies? I mean, I definitely think the video right where you can really see each other, you can connect, you can read body language, you can smile at them, they can see it, you could ask a little bit of that personal


connection pieces to I think hands down when you can see it, right? You can create it on a phone, but I do feel like there is a difference. So you have to be really, when you want to create it on the phone, you have to be really purposeful in that where it comes more naturally in video. Totally agree. Totally agree. And I think that's exactly what I was looking for, right? It's like that purposeful piece, because you guys aren't getting that opportunity. They're not walking in your practice and saying, hey, can I schedule? They're


calling and they're saying, do you take new patients? And you're like, Yep, we do. They're like, cool. Like I've had that happen where I'm like, cool. Can I schedule like how does this work? Do I do I call somebody else? Like, do I schedule with you? Do I need to talk to somebody else? Oh, no, I can help you. Cool. Again, like where where do we go with this? I think I think I'm good. Right? So like that first interaction, if we're not present, we're not purposeful, we're not in that phone call with that person.


It's not that relationship. That's exactly where it starts. That relationship starts with however that felt. And that's what I'm going to carry into my visit. Whatever I felt over the phone is what I'm going to mimic when I come into the practice. So if my first interaction is like, man, I'm coming in like, hey, are we prepped? Are we ready? Like, what do I need to do? Just sign here. And I'm standoffish, right? I'm already kind of like, man, because that's what it was.


But when I call somewhere and they're like, Dana, I'm so excited that you called. That's fantastic. Of course we're taking new patients. We would love to meet you. Like, what is your schedule like? Do you want my first available? Is there a time right? Day, Monday through Thursday that you're thinking? Like, what are you looking for? What's your vibe right now? Right? Dana's like, oh my God, when can I get in? Like, let me meet you. But that's because I'm purposeful, right? I'm being positive and I'm smiling.


The Dental A Team (32:33.326)

And I'm using excited words, right? Dana does the same thing. Like, oh my gosh, absolutely. Let's figure this out. Like there's always a solution to everything. Let's get this scheduled. Let's get you in. Is there something bothering you? Are you looking for your cleaning? Like let's figure this out together. Now I'm with Dana. I'm not separated. That phone keeps us very separated. We can't see anything. They're probably, I don't know, chasing, for me, I'm chasing the dang cat.


I'm like, she won the cat away, like, leave me alone. And then my kids asking me something. And then the dog is over here in the pantry again, like legit. I think right now she's probably in the pantry, right? There's so many things happening on the phone callers side, right? And then on your side, if you're multitasking, my front office ladies and gents, if you're finishing that last note, you're checking someone in. If you're talking to the doctor.


If you're getting some information from a dental assistant or a hygienist and you're on the phone, you're not present and you're not purposeful with that patient. So those are my, that's my soapbox. It's like I'm in a soapbox right now. Dana, you train this a lot with your clients. You do a lot of systems. I think out of all of our consultants and everyone in our company, I think you train systems the most and the most meaningful.


How do you help people make sure that that first call that a patient's making to the practice converts to an appointment? Like, what do you suggest? What should they be doing? Yeah, I love that you say, like, I think you can think about walking into an office, right? And you walk in and you're like, do I?


stand here, do I stare at you, do I sign in, do I sit down, what do I do? And it feels so awkward and it's definitely not a warm first impression. And I think that can happen on the phone too. And oftentimes when we look at just patient experience, we look at that in front of us. And we certainly want to look at that, but it starts with that phone call. So I think make sure you are leading the patient through the phone call.


The Dental A Team (34:39.086)

Make sure you are excited and truly smiling. Like if you have to have a mirror in front of you, if you have to before you answer, just get that big smile on your face. Do it because it can be felt and then try as much as you can, right? That awkward where the patient is like, do I hang up the phone? Is it done now? Do you have everything you need? Walk the patient through it from start to finish. So there isn't anything left unsaid, right? That you need from them. Don't wait for them to give it to you.


And then I think set expectations. And I always think of the movie Jerry Maguire, right, where he's like, help me help you Jerry, help me. And I feel like when it comes to that phone call, you want to set the expectations so that you can be prepared, right?


for the patient visit and oftentimes though that relies on getting information from them. So the more that you can screen patients to figure out that we're scheduling the right visit, the more that you can set expectations for getting paperwork back. We've got all these conveniences now for our patients in sending them paperwork, in sending them text reminders, in getting their insurance information and getting a picture of their driver's license, right? But oftentimes patients don't realize how important it is for them to get them back.


to you with enough time for you to plan and prepare. So set those expectations from the beginning so that patients can meet them because they already know that and then we're not hunting them down afterwards. It doesn't feel like for the patient when I constantly have to call and say, Hey, I didn't get this from you or Hey, I haven't gotten your insurance card or Hey, that's not an experience, right? Like patients don't want to feel like they're constantly being chased down and that there's multiple phone calls that happens.


when we don't set the expectations from the beginning that, hey, I need this paperwork back in the next three days. As soon as we're done this call, I'm gonna need you to send me your insurance card so that I can get that information for you. Because you were just seen a year ago, I need to get a records release from you to make sure that I have your x -rays so that there's not an out -of -pocket cost for you. So the more that we prep the patient so that we can help them help us, right?


The Dental A Team (36:42.03)

The better that experience is for the patient because then we're not chasing them down after the fact. We're not spending time hassling them for the things that we just didn't set the expectations from the beginning. For sure. I love that. I love the good movie reference. So nicely done there. I love that. I was writing down notes. If you're not driving, I hope you were too. I think some of the things that I thought of while you were talking to, and I'm sure this is what you're meaning, right, is to make sure you're getting all the information. Like, do you guys have script?


Do you have like new patient call sheets? I still have a lot of practices that use those, you guys. New patient call sheets, I love them. They're usually on like a colored sheet of paper or something yellow, so they're easy to find. I even have practices that have them as laminated sheets, and then they'll scan it into the patient's chart as soon as the appointment is made and they've created that chart. So making sure we have those scripts in those sheets, making sure, I love that you said like, get all the information you need so you're not chasing them down.


And you mentioned making sure they know the timeline, setting up the expectations. I don't know. I just had a call yesterday actually with a client and they're an oral surgery practice actually. And they were like, what do I do when a client, when a patient doesn't send me their new patient paperwork, their updated forms. And I'm like, well, like all you can do is give it to them in person. You can't like turn them away, right? You can, but like that's less ideal than we want, right? But the issue is really that they're not asking,


They're not setting deadlines. They're not setting the expectations. They're saying, we're going to send you the paperwork. If you have a chance, please fill it out ahead of time. I didn't have a chance. I'm very busy. I am on, like I have emails talking off right now, just from this morning that I know by the time I'm done with my day at 3pm, I've got two hours of emails that I've got to get to. Right. And so that email is probably not one on my priority list. But if you were to say to me, I'm going to send you this paperwork and I really need it back within the next three days, when can I count on that from you?


I'm gonna do it when I told you I would do it, right? And then now I've given you an opportunity to be like, hey, I just want that accountability notice, right? Like, hey, just checking in, wanted to make sure that you received my email for that paperwork so we can get it prepped ahead of your appointment. Most patients don't realize, like Dana said, they don't know that you need it before their appointment. They don't know that you can't just go into some database and find their insurance information. I was on an eye appointment with my son the other day. I was in shock.


The Dental A Team (39:09.87)

that this man was able to check, we didn't even know what our insurance was. He checked like 15 databases online in about 45 seconds with just our names and our address. And I was like, you have got to be kidding me. Why is death so hard? But people don't get it. I was in shock at how easy that was for him. And he's sitting there like, this is a pain in the butt. And I'm like, no, it's not. You have no idea. So.


people don't understand the work that it takes to prepare for their new patient appointment and what it does. If we're not prepared. I remember so many times I'm like, I cannot get this breakdown before this patient is done. And I'm not going to have the right information for a treatment plan. And for me, it's like, well, they didn't bring it to me. Okay, but what did I do my due diligence to ensure that they understood. So I love that setting expectations. And you said, um,


when we get off the phone, can you send me a picture? And I thought even while you're on the phone, can they text, you can give them the phone number, right? The text number, can they text a picture or email it to you while you're on the phone and you can confirm that you've received it. That might even be like a step ahead, like, let's just make sure that I've got it. Oh, yep, there it is. And really, I loved you said, lead the patient through the appointment. I think that's huge, huge. So when we're converting,


when we're talking about converting a new patient call, right, into an actual new patient, these are all ways that we can make that call efficient. It doesn't have to take long. If you've got the sheet of paper, it doesn't take long at all. It's efficient, it's effective, and you're building the relationship right off the bat. So you said smile and be excited. And I think our first question that most of us want to ask when a patient says,


or when a person calls and they say, do you take any patients? We typically want to say, yeah, for sure. What insurance do you have? It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what insurance they have. Unless they want to use it and it's something that's an HMO and you can't go there for sure. But if that's the relationship that you're building, that's like, if that's where you're starting that relationship you're building. So if you're expecting your patients to not care what insurance is going to pay, you have to put the patient's health, wellbeing and their relationship before their insurance.


The Dental A Team (41:31.214)

So try playing around with that. Try leaving the insurance question down the line a little bit and ask for reflections about the patient. Absolutely, we'd love to have you. Are you new to the area?


Yeah, actually, we just moved here. Oh my gosh, where did you move from? Right? Because now when we get to that spot where the patient's like, I have Blue Cross Blue Shield, and I'm like, totally, totally cool. Let me tell you how my relationship with that insurance works. We've got you, we're going to get you scheduled, we're going to get you seen, I'm going to do all the billing on your behalf. But just so you know, this is how that relationship works. We're considered out of network. Doesn't mean a lot. Just means that.


We don't know the fees 100 % off of that, however you're going to say it. But guess what? This lady already loves me. She's already like, this is who I want to be because she cared enough to ask me the questions about myself and not just about the insurance. And it's not going to convert every single time. That's okay. It's going to convert the time that it's supposed to for your practice. So smile, be excited, leave insurance for a couple of questions later, get to know the person, be a real human, not a robot. Right. Or I like to say, this is kind of controversial, but.


I like to think of it as like, how do we be that spa concierge where you feel welcome and invited compared to the medical side of it, right? The medical facility side of it, where you walk into your PCP or your yearly check or your hospital and you don't get eye contact and they're just like insurance, right? That's not who we are. That's just not how dentistry works. Unfortunately, we got to work a lot harder for our production and our processes than they do in medical. So make sure we're doing that spa concierge kind of like,


giant hotel chain, really, really great experience. So smile, be excited, lead the patient where you want them to go, Dana said. Phone calls and script sheets, make sure you're getting the information that you need on that first call, Dana said, and also making sure you're preparing the patient and setting those expectations. So ask for the paperwork back and ask for the insurance card, text or email right away. And I think those things will help you to convert.


The Dental A Team (43:35.95)

to an actual appointment and hopefully you guys are seeing that value of that initial phone call or any phone call guys, anytime you answer that phone, you're opening up your relationship. So if you're smiling, Dana, you said, have a little mirror in front of you. I think that's brilliant. I stare at myself all day in this camera screen. So it's very easy for me to know how to be animated and be there. And when I'm not in public or when I'm in office with a...


with a practice, people are like, gosh, you're so, you have so much energy. I'm like, I do because I know people are watching, right? I do because I know this is the person that I am when I'm working, right? I become Tiffany, the dental A team consultant, not Tiffany in normal everyday life. Tiffany in normal everyday life, not quite as animated, right? But when I get in front of people, I'm like, this is what draws you in. This is what makes you understand that I'm here to help you.


I only want the best for you. And if I have to become this person and it's all this energy, that's my job. That's what I'm here to do. So put it out there. Dana, I loved your tips. Thank you. Thank you. Do you still have practices that are using the call speaks as well? Oh yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Cause I think it's, there's a lot of information we've got to gather from patients and there's a lot that we have to have prepared. And you know what? We are human and checklist, honestly, like I say it all the time.


Pilots have their pre -flight checklist. That doesn't mean they don't know how to fly flights, right? It means that they want to make sure they have their checks and balances in place every single time. And so I think absolutely use them in a dental practice. I love it. Thank you. Awesome. All right, guys, auction items. Do a checklist, you guys. I love checklists. I have checklists everywhere. My son can tell you. He can have checklists on the fridge right now for dinner. Be excited.


answer with a smile, get yourself a little mirror if you need it. You guys lead the patient down the road and make sure you set those expectations. Get all that information from the get go and you're going to be brilliant. Now, if you don't have a sheet, you need ideas, you want templates, hello at the dentalatc .com is the place to get them. You guys, we have this stuff. You know who we are. You know that we're here to just provide as much content and quality paperwork and sheets and ideas and all of the things to the dental community as we can. We are here for it. So,


The Dental A Team (45:54.606)

Reach out hello at the dentalateam.com. Leave us a five star review if you loved this, which I know you did. And go implement, go be actionable. Dana, thank you for today and we'll catch you next time, guys.



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