How You Are Unknowingly Losing New Patients

by | Sep 10, 2019 | Practice Advice | 0 comments

Before becoming the CMO at DirectDental, I was a regional operations manager for a Dental Service Organization.

 We had a very systematic process that ensured one absolute thing, GET THOSE NEW PATIENTS THROUGH THE DOOR.

Now that I spend my days calling dental practices to assist with staffing, I find that the majority of front office dental staff are doing the one thing that is guaranteed to lose you new patients, and you probably have no idea it is happening. 

In fact, I personally call about a dozen dental practices a day.  And this last week I kept a tally. It averaged 6 out of 10 dental practices did this, and if I had been a new patient, I would have hung up and called a different practice.

In this post, we discuss the simple mistake your front office staff is making that is costing you new patients and what can be done to overcome this.

What you are doing right

You do everything right to get new patients to call in.  You have a nice website, a good social media presence and you do your best to make sure your patients are leaving 5-star reviews on Yelp and Google.

Now, let us imagine the process a new potential patient goes through before calling your practice to schedule an appointment.

They read all your reviews. 

They check your website to read about your education.

They confirm with their insurance company that you accept them.

And they even go so far as to pick out some days and times to come in for their new patient exam so they can match your schedule.


Your simple mistake

After all that they finally call your office.  And this is what they hear

“Thank you for calling our dental practice can you please hold?”

They reluctantly reply “yes”, and then they wait.  They wait for 1 minute, then 2 minutes, eventually they hang up.  And you just lost a new patient.

We understand. Your front desk staff gets busy.  They need to take care of the patients that are in the office and complete all their duties for the day.

But… ask yourself.  If you were a new patient calling a dental practice, how long would you stay on hold?  Would you call back after being placed on hold?

Probably not…

The worst part about this if you don’t even know how many new patients are being lost! Because there is no way to track this.


How to fix it

Ok, I will get off my soapbox and give you a solution.wink

It’s really easy.  Ready for it?


It’s a script!

If a front office staff is helping a patient and the phone rights, the front office staff needs to say to the patient “Can you please give me a quick moment to assist this patient calling in?”

In-office patient: “Of course.”

Front Office Staff:  “Thank you for calling our dental practice, how may I help you?”

New Patient: “I would like to schedule an appointment with your practice”

Front Office Staff: “That is great!  Have we seen you before?” 

New Patient: “No, I would be a new patient.”

Front Office Staff: “Wonderful, can I please get your name and number?

New Patient: “ Todd Day, 619-916-1234”

Front Office Staff:  “Thank you, Todd, before you called I was just checking out a patient, do you mind if I place you on a brief hold, so I can finish helping them?  If we get disconnected, I will call back right away.”

Todd: “Of course!”

DISCLAIMER: If the in-office patient tends to talk a lot, or if checking them out is overly involved it is best to finish the call with the new patient and then get back to the in-office patient.


Why it works


Now Todd doesn’t mind holding, because he was warmly greeted and the reason for being placed on hold has been explained to him.  HOWEVER, if Todd does get tired of waiting and hangs up, your front office staff now has his contact information and can call him right back to get him scheduled.

But, what about the in-office patient we made wait.

They are going to be understanding, they can see how busy your staff is, and they can’t hang up on you.  They are not going to mind waiting for the 30 to 60 second it takes to allow your staff to get your new patients info so you don’t miss out on that potential production.


Just do it!


This is an extremely easy process to introduce to your front office staff.  And a sure-fire way to make sure you no longer unknowingly lose new patients.

Feel like your front office staff could use some extra help?  Head to DirectDental now to book temporary front office staff or search profiles to find a new full-time or part-time employee!