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There’s one area of marketing where 80% of dental practices consistently fall short. Most doctors and office managers I talk to don’t even think of it as "marketing," and even fewer realize they may need improvement. Give up? I’m talking about answering the phone.

I know what you’re thinking: "My staff already answers the phone!" But statistics show that one out of four calls to a dental practice goes to an answering machine — when the office is open! The reality is most dental marketing fails not because it’s not generating calls, but because of how those calls are (mis)handled.

With all your front office staff has to do, it’s easy to start viewing the phone as an interruption. But the phone is the first point of contact the majority of your patients will ever have with your practice, and it can make or break their impression of you. In order for your marketing efforts to do any good, someone has to be there to greet new patients when they call. And just as important is the way you answer. New patients form their first impression within the first few seconds, so it’s important to sound pleasant, welcoming and knowledgeable.

It may sound simple, but even the best staff member can unconsciously rush callers on a busy day — or simply quote them a price without offering to schedule an appointment. Remember, the phone is the heart of your practice, and if you lose patients during the first call, even the best ad campaign is useless. So make every call count!

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