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449: First Impressions Matter… Like Thousands

Did you know that when your front office staff isn’t smiling when they answer the phone, it can actually cost you thousands of dollars? This episode is all about the welcome wagon of your practice — the front office. Kiera talks about why so many practices fail to capture potential new clients, the best way to answer the phone, and how your front office team can level up.

Plus, we have resources you can use! Download our 5-minute new patient phone call script, as well as a phone call scorecard. You know at the Dental A-Team we’ve got everything you need!

Episode resources:

Reach out to Kiera

Listen to episode 147, Is Your Front Office Killing Your Practice?

Listen to episode 40, The 5-Minute New Patient Phone Call

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Podcast Transcript:

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0:00:05.8 Kiera Dent: Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Dental A Team Podcast. I'm your host, Kiera Dent, and I had this crazy idea that maybe I could combine a doctor and a team member's perspective, because let's face it, dentistry can be a challenging profession with those two perspectives. I've been a dental assistant, treatment coordinator, scheduler, filler, office manager, regional manager, practice owner, and I have a team of traveling consultants where we have traveled to over 165 different offices, coaching teams. Yup, we don't just understand you, we are you. Our mission is to positively impact the world of dental, and I believe that this podcast is the greatest way I can help elevate teams, grow VIP experiences, reduce stress, and create A Teams. Welcome to the Dental A Team Podcast.

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0:00:51.4 KD: Hello, Dental A Team listeners, this is Kiera, and you guys, oh, happy day to you. I hope it's a great day. Today just feels like a good, solid day. I think I'm also in a better headspace. Most days are pretty good days in the world of Kiera Dent. There are some really yucky days, but most of the time, it's a pretty great day. So I hope you're having an awesome day. If there's any way myself personally can help you, please email me [email protected] If we can help your team, if I can help you personally, if I can give guidance or be a mentor, I'd be more than happy to do so. So never, ever, ever hesitate to reach out. If you've been thinking about it, guess what? There's a reason. So email [email protected]

0:01:31.9 KD: For those of you that are new, welcome. I love having new people. So my last name really is Dent. I get asked that every single time. It just took me three fiancés to get that last name. So he's awesome. [chuckle] And I feel real lucky with the last name, and we love working in dental practices. So all of our consultants, all of our coaches, we all have dental background. So we've all been clinical, and for our office, we've all run large practices, multi-millions. Most of us have been regional managers, so managing multiple practices. We all have a variety of experiences associated with us, from multiple locations to DSOs to hygiene backgrounds, to dental assistant backgrounds to you name it. So it's a really, really good mix of people, and we either virtually coach your team, coach your doctors, coach your team, coach your office manager, coach your hygiene team, whatever it is. We usually focus on the whole team approach, and then we isolate all the different departments, making sure that they're systematized.

0:02:30.4 KD: We're a ton of fun. We worked with consultants in the past, and we said, "Hey, we're gonna build a company where teams actually look forward to us coming in," and we get results 'cause we believe it can be an and, not an or. And we also fly to your practices, so either way, virtually or in-person, either one. Guess what? That's what we love to do. So if that could ever be a service to you, please let us know because we'd be more than happy to help you out.

0:02:55.5 KD: Alright, guys, today's topic, are you ready for it? I hope you are, 'cause I'm ready for it, and that is, is your front office killing your practice? Now, I'm gonna just give you guys some shout-outs. I was a front office, and I killed my practice in some ways. Not fully, but just little things that I didn't even realize were hurting my practice. So I remember I did, I think it was just a conversation with a guy named Brian Hanks. If you guys need a practice transition, he's amazing. So if you're buying a practice, first time practice owner, you're selling your practice, call Brian Hanks. I can get you connected with him. He is amazing. I need to get him on the podcast. That man is brilliant, and I will say he goes A to Z. He's a flat rate, and I will say it is awesome. He walks you through and then we're great, 'cause once you've got the practice, we come in and help you get all the systems in play. But Brian and I were talking, and he told me, he said, "Kiera, I live in Utah and I called. I needed to get to a dentist, and I looked it up, searched my area. There were like 25 different dentists. "I'm sure there was about 125, if not more, in that particular area. He's in Utah, [chuckle] the dental mecca, if you will.

0:04:07.0 KD: And he said, "So many of these people need help. Like I called, and the person I chose to go to was 100% dependent on two things, and that was their Google reviews 'cause that was the first deciding factor." He looked at their reviews. And the second one was their front office. He said, "So many of these people couldn't schedule me, didn't schedule me, didn't know what they were talking about. They didn't know if they accepted my insurance. They weren't friendly on the phone, and so I just called another practice." So I think about this for you guys, and think to yourselves. You guys, I used an example, it was a while ago, so I'll share it again. If you heard it, hey, nice, good memory. And if you haven't, hopefully it's good. I was looking for a physical therapist, and I did the exact same thing. I went on Google, searched in physical therapist. You guys, I had no clue. I didn't even know what my insurance was. All I knew was I'm in pain. Get me out of pain. So contacted a bunch of PT offices, same exact experience. The office that I chose to go to didn't even take my insurance, but it was because they were nice, they were pleasant, and they helped get me in, period.

0:05:18.7 KD: And so many people, I'm like, "Do you hate your job?" Like when you answer that phone. So this is really going out to the front office team members of a couple of things. You could be ultimately killing your practice and not even realizing it because first impressions matter.

0:05:32.9 KD: I read a study that said it takes, I think it was like seven good impressions to make up for one bad impression. That's insanity. And so just thinking about it, who knows. You guys, I'm sure there's about a bajillion studies and who knows what study's actually accurate, like how do you really determine like how did you overcome a bad impression? I'm still not sure how they determined all that, so take it for what it's worth, but the point is, we all know if someone leaves a bad taste in our mouth, it takes quite a few good things for that person to get back into our good graces, and not because we don't like them, just because it's human nature. So I want you guys to think about that for yourselves, of number one, when you're answering the phone, what kind of a mood are you in?

0:06:13.9 KD: My mom, I used to tease her all the time as kids. We'd be like, "You guys, my mom, she's a saint." She had seven children, which I still don't know how that's possible. I don't even have one. I don't know how she did it. So but there were seven of us. And there still are seven of us, thankfully. And we would be fighting. [laughter]

0:06:31.7 KD: There's a 19-year span from my oldest brother, I'm number two, to my youngest sister, 19 years. You guys, my mom was literally pregnant when I was in high school. It was very, a weird conversation, but regardless, we would be fighting as kids do, and we were honestly really good kids. I look back and my mom did a massive job of us. So when I say fighting, I mean we were like, it was pretty minimal compared to what I've seen in some other families, which again, I still don't know how she did it with seven of us, but reality was, she would be like reprimanding us or "Kiera, Evan, stop fighting," and then the phone would ring and what would my mom do? "Hello," and I was like, "Mom, you're so fake." I thought she was ridiculous. It drove me batty. But now thinking about it, that was a first impression and, yes, of course, my mom wasn't working at a practice, she wasn't concerned as much about a first impression, but guess what she was? She wanted to convey that when she answered the phone, she did not want the person on the other line to be like, "Hello. I'm angry at my kids." She really wanted it to be this, she wanted to present herself.

0:07:37.9 KD: So I think about that. You guys, in a dental practice, we can be really frustrated. There can be a lot of things. I know when I worked for an office, I feel like I was pulled on like taffy all day long, from insurance, to patients wanting to cancel, to patients needing insurance, to payments, to having to get a treatment plan, to the back office meetings. I was like, "I feel like taffy and I'm ready to go home and never speak to somebody for the next eight hours, and I'll be good to go for the next day." So I get it. I understand. We have to just be careful that that "Irritation" or frustration or even just the pull doesn't come across on the phone. So I want you guys to, number one, make sure that when you're answering that phone, you've got that like peppy, almost annoying, don't go to the annoying route, big, cheesy grin. Show all those teeth when you answer that phone, because remember, you are the first impression.

0:08:35.0 KD: Are you guys sick of trying to figure it out on your own? I know I am. When I'm trying to run a business, sometimes I just think there's got to be a better way to do this. And so for me, my answer has been to find someone who's done it and does it really, really, really well. Like I'm talking the best of the best of the best. I want someone who's been in my shoes, somebody who understands what I'm going through. When I was looking for the consulting business, I found a coach who literally has run a consulting business. Well, that seems like the perfect fit. So you guys right now, we have a few spaces open in our Platinum consulting. That is in the consulting where we actually come to your practice. We help you get systems implemented. We don't just tell you a system to implement. We actually implement them with you and for you. Guys, it is one of the best investments I've ever made, is to hire a coach who understands the business I'm in, who's lived it, who's done it, and that's what we in the Dental A Team do. We literally physically fly to you.

0:09:34.2 KD: So if you're sick of trying to figure it out on your own, if you just want somebody who understands you, join our Platinum. I'd love to have you. I'd love to have our consulting team come out and see you, be in your office, be with your team, and truly help you get on to the easy path of dentistry. It doesn't have to be hard. So join us in the Platinum, we'd love to have you.

0:09:55.3 KD: There are three things that people get in communication, it's our tone, the words we speak, and our energy. Okay, so that's all they're picking up. They're picking up our, oh, excuse me. I lied. It's our body language 'cause tone and energy are about the same.

0:10:11.0 KD: So our body language, that's the main driver in communication, then it's our tone, and then it's the words we speak. Words that we speak are like 10% of all communication, the rest of it comes from body language and tone. So guess what? If body language is the number one thing that helps us see how people are communicating, over the phone, guess what, we've only got two things. We're already down one communicating tool. They can only hear our tone and the words we speak. So our tone, the way we answer, the way we speak actually really, really, really matters, especially to these patients that are calling in. They can't see us. They don't know. They can't see that you've got five people and you look like an octopus up front 'cause you're trying to take care of everything. They can't see that. All they can see is, I'm a patient. I need to call my dentist and they should love me, because guess what? Every person wants to be loved. Every person's looking for that love and connection. So that's where you can dazzle. So I say everybody make sure that you have that big, cheesy smile when you're answering the phone.

0:11:07.5 KD: It sounds ridiculous. I've literally drawn sticky notes in practices. I've had people record themselves when they answer the phone, that way they can see. I put a mirror in front of the people who are answering the phone because guess what? I know that first impression matters. If I'm spending all this money on marketing, I do not for any second want to lose that money because my people did not answer the phone in a positive way. It literally can cost you thousands of dollars to not answer the phone with a smile. So you guys, even when I get on the podcast, right now I'm smiling big, cheesy, [chuckle] ridiculous smile over here, because all you guys get from me, are the tone and the words that I'm speaking, and most of what you're picking up is my tone. So if I'm coming at you at a very serious, get this done, you're like, "Woah, she feels scary." If I'm like, "Hey guys. It's gonna be so fun," maybe my "Hey guys" drives you batty, maybe you love it, I don't know, and I honestly don't care. This is who I am [chuckle] so listen or don't listen, but I do care in the fact that I can change that, and I know I can manipulate your experience in a positive way based on how I'm chatting.

0:12:13.9 KD: So people answering the phone, realize it's so valuable. Check yourself. Listen to yourself. You might think you're upbeat. Tiffanie and I, if you guys have not heard me and Tiff, listen to our podcast. We have a different vibe. I come in much more strong, confident, dominant. Tiff comes in, Tiff literally has to level up, but she comes in in this very airy, light, fairy, positive, loving vibe. Tiff and I have two very different personalities, but we both have to level ourselves up. So check your front office. How can they level up? How are they answering the phone? You guys can listen back. There are thousands of phone recording companies out there that can help you guys figure out how do we sound on the phone and listen back. Use some great examples. Use some not so great examples. I've done a...

0:12:58.6 KD: Phone skills and scheduling event, and I literally just called random offices and recorded their new patient phone call and then told them... And then I just didn't show up. I was a jerk that way. It was all for science guys. Judge me, I only did like seven offices. So sorry all seven that I didn't actually come to. I called back and cancelled. Or no, that's actually not true. At the end of it, I'm like, "Oh, actually, that doesn't really work. But thanks so much," and then hung up. I'm sure they were so frustrated, but it also is teaching a point. Don't spend 15 to 20 minutes on a new patient phone call that can just decide they don't wanna come. You can simplify that down. We have our five-minute new patient phone call episode. If you haven't listened to that, definitely snag that and email us if you'd like that form. We can also link it to the web page, so you guys can just download it right from our website.

0:13:44.2 KD: So with that said, make sure that people are smiling, that they're giving that first impression. Record the calls and listen to them back if you've got a software, or literally you guys can just have it on speaker phone. I recorded plenty of calls on Zoom, different ways to record those calls, and then we actually have a phone call scorecard. If you guys would like it, email us [email protected], or also go to the web page, and it's a downloadable link. Alex, please. Alex always make sure that we have these. So thank you, Alex.

0:14:11.7 KD: But after that, what I want you guys to do is start to assess those first impressions. Check to see. Ask people. You guys can do random surveys. Find out how their experience was, but remember for office team members, you have a massive, massive, massive responsibility for first impressions, because guess what? You're the first experience of our practice. Think about yourself calling a new dentist, a new doctor, a new hair salon, you're a little on edge. You've got your feelers out. You hope you like them. You read great reviews, so you already won them over that way, but now you're calling them. What if the experience they're getting on the phone is not the same as what they had online? Well, now, people are wondering, "Do I really wanna come here? Do I not?" Because guess what guys? There are hundreds of other practices just like you, and we're all competing for that new patient. Now, I don't want every new patient. I think some new patients I'm like, "That's fine, you can go to the other place," but not because I didn't represent the company correctly, not because I didn't show up.

0:15:10.7 KD: Make sure you know what insurance plans you're a part of. You guys, we can be out of network. It's totally fine. That doesn't mean I'm gonna say, "No, we don't accept your insurance." I'm gonna say, "Hey, how did you hear about us? Fantastic, I am so happy you read our Google reviews. We absolutely love our patients, and Dr. Blank is incredible. You are obviously gonna love them. So tell me what kind of an appointment were you looking for? Oh my gosh. A cleaning. Awesome. When was the last time you were in? What dentist were you going to? Oh, my gosh. Well, welcome to our area. I'm so happy you're here. Yes, I can get you in actually this week, Friday. As for your insurance, I got lots of people on it. So we're actually gonna bill your insurance on your behalf, and then if there's any remaining balance, we'll happily have it. We will be billing out of network, and we have tons of patients just like you. My estimate portion, I'll find out on insurance for you, and then I'll give you a quick call back. I'm also gonna be sending over some new patient forms for you, so I could get those back... When do you think you could actually get them back to me 'cause that will actually confirm your appointment? Emailing them right now. When can I get those back from you? Fantastic, I'll get them back later today. Thank you so much. Can't wait to see you on Friday.

0:16:17.4 KD: Guys, that's literally how you get around that, do you accept my insurance? And notice, I'm on their team. You feel so loved. I've just told you how amazing our doctor is. I've told you how incredible our reviews are, that we love our patients. I'm getting you in on Friday. Welcome to our area. I'm so glad you moved here. Their first impression was of love. Their first impression was, I cannot wait to see you. That's what you guys want in your practice. So check to see, is your front office killing you? Is your front office possibly having patients turn away just like Brian Hanks had, just like I had with PT, because the front office was not inviting, because the front office sounded like they were having a terrible day. They didn't feel like they loved their job, and if they don't love their job, I don't really wanna come there.

0:17:00.0 KD: So check to see. Listen, I gave you guys a ton of resources, ton of ideas, and if you need help, guess what? We train on this. We come into your practice, we help your team, we listen to them, and in a very loving way, we help them figure out ways that they could change it, make it a little more positive, make it a little more optimistic, maybe change up the verbiage to get better results, just like I did on that out of network verbiage. Guys, guess what? I train on way more than than that [chuckle] all the time, and we love it. We love helping you guys succeed and flourish. So if there's any way we can ever help you, please email us. Please implement these things. Check your front office guys, because you're spending a lot of marketing to get those patients to call. Let's make sure we make the best first impression.

0:17:37.8 KD: Alright guys, as always, thanks for listening. I'll catch you next time on the Dental A Team Podcast.

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