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Patient Prism's Dental Industry Blog

Here you'll find hundreds of articles and video interviews with dental industry experts on the topics of DSO and practice growth, dental software, call-tracking technology, patient experience and artificial intelligence fueling the dental industries ability to treat more patients and change lives.

August 2019--Creating a centralized call center often makes sense as dental groups scale and add more practices.

Hiring a group of highly-trained customer service representatives to book new appointments, confirm existing ones, and answer patient questions can free up the staff in your dental practices.

That gives the on-site team more time to spend with patients.

Suppose you’re thinking about creating a dental answering service. In that case, there are some key questions to ask before you develop a dental call center.

Table Of Contents

What Do You Want The DSO Call Center Operators To Do?

This question is trickier than many people realize. A few of the options include:

  • Answer all inbound calls or just calls from new patients?
  • Call back people who leave voicemails for the dental office(s)?
  • Respond to online appointment requests?
  • Staff the online chat feature on your office website(s)?
  • Conduct appointment confirmation calls?
  • Make reactivation calls to patients with treatment plans but no future appointments?
  • Document the results of each conversation, including whether the call was booked?

It’s imperative that you go through these questions and clearly define what the goal of your operation is.

What Information Will The Call Center Operators Need?

What Information Will The Call Center Operators Need

When a call comes into a specific dental office, the receptionist usually answers by saying:

“Thank you for calling (Practice Name). How may I help you?”

When a call comes into a DSO call center, the operator must know which dental practice the patient thinks they are calling. Otherwise, the operator won’t know which office name to use in the greeting.

Call center operators typically need to have several computer screens in front of them to display promptly:

The information the patient knows

  • Dental practice name he/she called
  • The caller's phone number and the associated ad or marketing source (website, Google Ad, newspaper ad, postcard, billboard, etc.)
  • Any promotional offers associated with that ad/source
  • Caller ID with the caller's phone number and name

The dental practice information

  • The dental practice’s contact information
  • Hours of operation
  • Driving directions
  • Dentists’ names and services
  • Hygienists’ names
  • Insurances accepted
  • Time allotted for new patient exams, hygiene visits, and other services the operators will schedule, which can be customized for each provider as needed

The scheduling system

The DSO call center operators will need the same access as in-office receptionists to enter the caller’s contact and insurance information and schedule appointments in the correct column for the appropriate time for each provider.

Remember, that first call is incredibly important - call center or not. See what Christina Villarreal, a Patient Experience Manager, says about the first call:


Which SOPs Do You Need To Create?

Which SOPs Do You Need To CreateAs you’re designing your call center SOPs, it’s helpful to think of it from the caller’s point of view. Here are some guidelines for getting started:

Establish a simple phone tree and determine where each type of call should be routed

A very basic script may include:

“Thank you for calling (Practice Name). Para continuar en español, por favor, oprime nueve. If you are a current patient, please press 1. If you are a new patient, please press 2. For all other calls, please press 3.”

Suppose your protocol is to have the call center operators only handle new patient inquiries. In that case, callers who select two will be routed to the call center, and callers who choose one or three will be routed to the dental practice.

It’s important to remember to record the information in Spanish if that’s needed and to direct those callers to Spanish-speaking team members. Next, you'll want to create scripts for new patients calling in for the first time.

Establish new patient phone call scripts

Suppose all of your calls are being routed through a call center. In that case, it's vital for operators to quickly understand whether they are interacting with a new or existing patient.

For new patients, a lot of information will have to be gathered for the first time, so your call center must have questions scripted out. For example, a few questions you might want to ask include:

  • How did you hear about our office?
  • When was the last time you saw a dentist?
  • Are you currently having any problems we should be aware of?

Establish protocols for calls not answered by the third ring

Some dental groups have calls not answered by the call center redirected to the dental practice receptionist. Others have a voicemail box established. The voicemail option works best when there is only one brand involved.

Suppose the call center operators are returning voicemail messages.

In that case, it’s important to establish protocols to capture the information for each callback attempt and ensure the correct number of attempts before changing the caller status from potential patient to lost patient.

Develop SOPs for every function of the call center

There should be Standard Operating Procedures for every process the call center operator manages, including:

  • Responding to online appointment requests
  • Handling appointment requests via chat message
  • Making appointment confirmations

This will reduce mistakes and improve the patient experience.

Create a Stellar Hiring & Training Program

One of the keys to success is developing a “repeatable playbook” for success. Every single call center operator needs to know and follow the same protocols. Here are a few ideas as you’re getting set up:

Hire happy people who are genuinely compassionate and enjoy helping others

If possible, have them shadow a dental receptionist in a dental practice for at least two days to understand how it works.

Hopefully, they’ll understand that their role as a call center operator is vital to the practice's success.

Have the new hire shadow a call center operator for at least three to five days

Ideally, have a test workstation where the new hire can listen to actual calls being answered by an experienced call center operator, and the new hire can enter data into a test site.

Then, the new hire and a trainer can compare the new hire’s information to the actual data entered by the experienced operator and address any discrepancies.

Establish metrics for success

  • How many calls should be answered per hour by each operator?
  • How many calls should be converted to new patient appointments?

Your KPIs should be in place so you can effectively track and measure performance and grow.

Develop an ongoing training and coaching program

Ensure the call center operators have the tools they need to improve.

Based on your KPIs, you should know which team members perform best and which need additional training.

Final Thoughts

Hiring a group of well-trained customer service reps to book new appointments, confirm existing ones, and answer patient questions can free up the staff in your dental practices.

That gives the on-site team more time to spend with patients.

Patient Prism could help your company track key performance indicators (KPIs) and improve the skills of dental call center teams.

We’re the only call tracking company that leverages artificial intelligence and human call coaching validation to deliver patients directly to your dental practice.

Schedule a Patient Prism Demo with Brenton Paul

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Patient Prism is A.I.-driven software that helps dental practices grow new patient revenue by booking more first-time callers.

Instantly increase new patient revenue by 30% on average.

Patient Prism provides your front desk team or call center with the tools and coaching they need to book more new patients on the first phone call. 

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