So you’ve started marketing your professional practice online and things are going pretty well. All of the statistics are showing that you’re getting people to your website and you’re getting people to call you. But when you look at the revenue you earned from digital marketing for a specific time period, you notice that no new patients came in from the Internet.

Pretty Vietnamese receptionist talking on telephone at her workplace

If all of the statistics are showing that people are finding and contacting you, why aren’t they becoming patients? Obviously there are a multitude of things to look at, but one of the first things you should look at is how your calls are being answered.

Now, you may really like your receptionist or office manager, but if they’re not able to effectively respond to leads in a timely matter to schedule a consultation, then it may be time to train or potentially replace them. It’s not the most pleasant part of business, but let’s face it, do you really want someone answering your phone that has no idea how to convert leads into revenue for your practice?

We’ve listed some of the most common calls we hear about, giving you the wrong way to answer and the right way to answer. These are not the only ways to answer the phone, but they will get you started so that you can start testing and seeing which way works best for your business.

Example 1: Insurance


Patient: Is the doctor accepting new patients?

Receptionist: Yes we are, do you have insurance?

Patient: Yes I do. I have Delta Dental.

Receptionist: Ok. We accept some of their plans.

Patient: How do I know if you accept mine?

Receptionist: You will need to fill out the needed paperwork and we will contact the insurance company. If you are covered we can tell you, but anything the insurance company does not cover will be your responsibility to pay.



Patient: Is the doctor accepting any new patients?

Receptionist: Yes he is. Are you inquiring about a specific problem?

Patient: Yes I am. I have a tooth that has been bothering me for some time and I want to get it checked out to make sure everything is alright.

Receptionist: We can certainly take care of that for you. Because this will be your first visit with us, you are eligible for our free new patient examination. It’s good to get a full overview of your dental health, don’t you agree?

Patient: Yes I do. I have not been to the dentist in some time.

Receptionist: Great. I have an opening on Tuesday at 2PM. Will that work for you?

Do you see the difference in the calls? In the wrong way example, the receptionist didn’t try to have the patient come in to the see doctor before asking about insurance. The insurance information was given up front leaving the patient with no motive to come in to see the doctor. In the right way example, the receptionist didn’t even cover insurance, but instead told the patient about the free new patient examination. She then led the patient to come into the office for a consultation by giving the patient a day and time for the consultation. If that date and time didn’t work for the patient, then the receptionist just has to work with the patient to get a good day and time to come in.

Example 2: New Patient Examination Costs


Patient: What is the cost for a new patient exam, x-rays and cleaning?

Receptionist: It will be $120 for the exam with the x-rays and $130 for the cleaning, if it is a standard cleaning.

Patient: Oh really? I will have to think about that.

Receptionist: Thanks for calling. Let us know if we can set up an appointment for you.

Patient: Ok.



Patient: What is the cost for a new patient exam, x-rays and cleaning?

Receptionist: Will this be for yourself or someone else?

Patient: It’s for my daughter.

Receptionist: Ok, how old is your daughter?

Patient: 15

Receptionist: When was her last exam?

Patient: 2 years ago.

Receptionist: Is she having problems at the moment?

Patient: No. I just want to make sure everything is ok.

Receptionist: I understand. How does Monday at 2PM sound?

Patient: Ok that would be great and I will see you then.

This example should be pretty obvious. By giving the cost information up front, the patient already knows how much they are going to pay and now can go research other doctors who might be cheaper. The receptionist also asks if they can set up an appointment for the daughter, instead of giving days and times of an appointment (patients are more likely to commit to consult or exam when given an exact day and time). In the right way example, the receptionist did not give the cost, but got a lot of valuable information about the daughter. The receptionist also gave the patient a day and time to come in, instead of giving exact prices and leaving the decision up to the patient.

Example 3: Procedure Costs


Patient: I want to get a consultation with the doctor about some crowns.

Receptionist: Ok. Our exam and x-rays are $150 for a new patient.

Patient: Really? I just got x-rays and I want to see how much it will cost to get a couple of crowns.

Receptionist: We can’t give the price of a crown over the phone without seeing you and taking any needed x-rays.

Patient: I understand. I will call back when I am ready.



Patient: I want to get a consultation with the doctor about some crowns.

Receptionist: May I ask, did you already see another dentist and are you trying to get a second opinion?

Patient: Yes, I wanted to know the cost of a crown.

Receptionist: Would it be ok if I ask you a few more questions?

Patient: Yes that is fine.

Receptionist: Are your teeth currently bothering you?

Patient: Yes there is a little bit of pain. It seems like it is only coming from one tooth, although I was told there are two crowns that are needed.

Receptionist: Are the teeth in the back or front?

Patient: The teeth are in the back of my mouth.

Receptionist: Ok thank you. Let me answer your question. The cost of crown varies from patient to patient and also varies on the tooth and what is wrong with it, but what I can guarantee is that you will get not only the best price, but also the best service and quality. Our doctor will see you for a free consultation to go over specific needs. I haven opening tomorrow morning, or on Friday in the afternoon. Which time works better for you?

Patient: Tomorrow morning would work the best.

Receptionist: Ok I have you scheduled to come in tomorrow morning for a free consultation about getting crowns.

Again, the differences in these calls should be pretty obvious. In the wrong way example, the receptionist gives the price for the consult, but is very cold about giving the price of the crowns over the phone. In the right way example, the receptionist gains a lot of useful information (like tooth placement and if there is currently pain). The receptionist then gives a thorough and friendly reason why they cannot give pricing over the phone. The receptionist then sells the quality and service the doctor provides and then does not ask the patient to come in, but instead gives them open days and times to come in. Again, giving a patient specific days and times to come in for a consult instead of asking when they can come in is a much effective strategy for getting patients in the door.

Summary of How To Answer Your Phones:

The 3 examples above are just some of the most common questions we hear our client tell us that they get asked. You can follow the tips below in almost any situation:

  • Be friendly!
  • Do not give out cost information over the phone
  • Guide the patient into coming in for a consult, instead of letting them decide when to come in
  • Gather only the essential information from the patient while on the call (especially name, email and phone number). Address, date of birth, insurance carrier and any other type of information can be gathered while in the office

The last tip is something we live by here at Firm Media. We are constantly testing to improve our strategies and capabilities, and you should too! Start with the above examples and tips and see if you’re getting more patients in the door. If not, test a new way of answering the phones and scheduling consults. Eventually, you will find one that works for your practice.

By Malia Rowland
Malia manages the account executive department and takes pride in understanding each client’s individual needs while working cross-functionally with Firm Media’s marketing and product teams to develop a personalized campaign strategy.

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