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We focus so much on what to say on the phone with our patients that we forget to think about what not to say on the phone.


Are you saying this on the phone?

  1. That is OK.

If patients call to cancel their appointment we often say it is OK so our patients feel OK, we feel OK and everyone is OK. The appointment is then not made.

It is much better to say,

“I understand. I can make you another appointment. Would you like morning or afternoon?”

Take control of the call and help your patient keep the appointment or make another appointment.

  1. Would you like to make an appointment?

You know the patient urgently needs another appointment.

The patient knows they need another appointment.

The Dentist knows they need another appointment,

So why do we ask if they would like an appointment. It doesn’t make sense.

It is much better to say,

“I can make you an appointment. Would you prefer morning or afternoon?”

  1. Answer the caller’s first question.

 The first question is important but is it usually not the only important thing.

Find out what else is important.

Ask questions to find out what is important.

Meantime you build urgency and concern and then come back to the original question and you are more likely to make an appointment.

  1. I don’t have that time available.

Only let the caller know what appointment times you have, not what you don’t have.

This maintains a positive call, guiding the patient to the available appointment that suits them and your appointment book.

Often a caller will ask for a specific time but never ever presume this is the only time they can come in.

  1. We have no parking available.

Why would you want to highlight the fact you have no parking?

After working in a city practice with no on site parking, I soon discovered that the city had plenty of parking.

Let the caller know where other patients find parking and send a parking map.


  1. Dr Jones is away for two weeks.

Make the appointment for two weeks time.

No patient likes to hear their dentist is away on holiday, especially if they are in pain or urgently need them.

All the patient needs to know is that Dr Jones has an appointment available for you in two weeks time.

If it is an emergency and cannot be delayed then have a contingency plan to see a trusted colleague.

  1. We don’t take your insuranceorWe are not a preferred provider.

Always ask other questions first and then once you have built some rapport and found out what else is important, then you can address their insurance or preferred provider question.

By this stage you have at least found out more about the callers dental problem/concern and are at a stage where they do want to make an appointment.

  1. There is a cancellation fee.

This is the best way to turn a patient off.

The message you send is I know you will cancel and so to stop you I will threaten you with an extra charge and scare you into not cancelling.

The patient cancels, never pays the fee and goes to another dentist.

Set up the appointment on the phone so the caller is committed and serious about the appointment that has been reserved and now confirmed for them.

Think carefully about your choice of words when you answer the phone.

When you pick up the phone, it is an instrument to use to communicate and make appointments not to blow people away!



On Friday August 19 and Saturday August 20 I will be co-presenting Dental Phone Excellence in London England at Dr. David Moffet’s Ultimate Patient Experience Workshop.
Click here for details and Early Bird Registration.
This blog will feature simple practical ideas that are easy to implement tomorrow in your Dental Office, impacting immediately on your Patients’ Dental  Phone Experiences, and ultimately, improving your practice profitability.

At present I have availability for four new private clients. For more information on how I can improve your Dental Office’s Phone Numbers contact me, Jayne Bandy at  jayne@theDPE.com

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