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JoAn Majors, founder of The Soft Skills Institute, talks about “secret shopper” research that led to developing a conversation system that is effective in converting callers to booked dental patients in all types of dental practices, whether they are single location, multi-location groups, or dental service organizations (DSOs).


Making a “telephone handshake” that is a true personal connection is more powerful than answering the caller’s questions with technical terminology the patient may not understand. A telephone handshake draws callers into a comfortable conversation that earns the trust of the caller and leads to call conversion.

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How to Draw Callers into Easy Conversation

  1. Convey that you are there to help.
  2. Praise the caller.
  3. Praise your dentist.
  4. When providing technical information, keep it simple.


First, Offer to Help

Graciously ask the caller, “How may I help you?” If you must put the caller on hold, ask for permission to do this, for example, “Thank you for calling. I want to help you. May I put you on a brief hold?” Keep that hold as brief as possible. Sometimes calls on hold are dropped, so call back promptly to have a second opportunity to make a great first impression.

Your tone of voice conveys you sincerely want to assist the caller and care about the person on the other end.


Praise the Caller!

As the caller reveals why they called, acknowledge the caller has called the right place. Depending on the caller’s intention, you might say:

  • “You called the right place! Patients absolutely love Dr. Heartful, and we would welcome you as our patient.” 
  • “You called the right place for dental implant treatment! Dr. Heartful does implants all the time, and our patients say they wish they had done it sooner.”


Praise Your Dentist!

You are selling the doctor and his or her skills. Compliment the dentist’s expertise and the other qualities patients rave about. I try to keep it short and not use a lot of words. Depending on why the prospective new patient called and any expressed concerns, you might say something like this. 

  • “Patients love the time Dr. Heartful spends with them.” 
  • “Dr. Heartful understands patients have cost concerns. She will discuss the options available for helping you with that tooth. We have payment options and offer in in-house dental discount plan. Let’s get you scheduled right away because I know you are uncomfortable with the way that tooth looks.”
  • “An implant is a man-made root that Dr. Heartful can put in, and then she will design a man-made tooth to go on top of it. She does everything right here in our office.”


Keep Technical Information Simple

When it sounds easy and simple, the patient feels more at ease. If a caller asks a question and the answer is confusing, the caller is not likely to make the appointment. Don’t use clinical terms the caller may not know, and do not correct the caller if the caller does not use the correct clinical term. 

Just as in the last example above, you can simply say that an implant is a man-made tooth root on which a man-made tooth is placed. If a caller asks if you do all-ceramic crowns or Invisalign, say yes. You don’t need to explain all the different types of crowns or orthodontic procedures your dentist does.

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