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The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Call-Tracking for Your Dental Practice

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Call-Tracking for Your Dental Practice
Dr. Christopher Phelps

In the last decade, call-tracking software has improved by leaps and bounds. It’s now possible to get detailed information on lost opportunities, new patient calls, conversion rates, and the actual return on investment (ROI) from your advertising campaigns. Has your call-tracking software kept up with the times, or is it still living in the past? Here are seven call-tracking features that your practice needs to attract new patients, retain existing patients, and grow.


Habit 1: Your Call-Tracker Tracks Missed Calls—and Gives You Tools to Get in Touch

Missed calls mean lost patients and empty chairs. What happens when a new patient calls your office and doesn’t get through on the first try, they get a busy signal or a voicemail message? They give up and call the next dentist on their list. Today, the technology exists to track missed calls on a whole other level and to notify you in real time, within 7 seconds via a text message when a call gets missed. Most email alerts happen from 2 minutes to 60 minutes depending on how many servers it has to bounce through to get to you. Do you think a new patient will wait 2 to 60 minutes for you to call them back before they’ve moved on? With this information, you can modify your staffing to increase phone coverage at busy times of day. You can train staff on how to handle multiple incoming calls. Best of all, when a call gets missed, your office can call the new patient back before he has a chance to talk to the next person on his list. Whether you are spending a lot of money on marketing or not, if your current call-tracking tools don’t give you these abilities, you’re missing out on new patient opportunities and income.


Habit 2: Your Call-Tracker Helps You Reach Smartphone Users

Young people hardly ever use their phones for calls. In fact, if you ask any person aged 15 to 25, many will tell you they’d much rather chat with people versus talking on the phone with them. If that’s how they feel about their friends, do you think they want to talk to you? Instead, they’d prefer to use technology and not pick up the phone. That means that some of the ‘calls’ to your office that you might be missing out on could come in the form of website visits and chats. Can you convert a website user into an appointment? Your call-tracking software should include the ability to have a 100% HIPPA compliant chat with a significant customer base you’re not communicating with now and give you the ability to chat and book appointments online. Otherwise, you may be writing off a large percentage of young professionals.

Habit 3: You Call-Tracker Includes Detailed Review of Phone Calls

If you’ve used any of the “Voicemail to Text” programs on the market, you know that voice recognition software still needs a lot of work. That means that it’s not enough to have a computer review your calls to look for problems. Accents, language slang terms, background noise, etc. All of these things make it difficult for computers to really know what’s going on with your phone call and could mean you’re not getting all the data you need to make a smart decision about your marketing efforts. A good call-tracker service should understand the limits of technology and know when it’s better to use human oversight. Your call-tracker should offer the option of having a real person review your phone call. Not just one or a couple of calls to give you a guess at what’s going on but every phone call to spot problems, inefficiencies and areas of weakness in your systems that can be modified via training to save you money while increasing your new patient numbers.


Habit 4: Your Call-Tracker Separates Out the Data for New and Returning Patients

Any office can convert most existing-patient phone calls into appointments. The odds are they called you to make an appointment, and that they’re not going anywhere until they get their next appointment scheduled. A new patient referred to your office is also an easy convert because they’ve received the word of mouth testimony from your patient so they are willing to forgive any issues on the telephone. New patient calls that come strictly from advertising sources are a completely different situation. If your call-tracker doesn’t disaggregate the data for new and returning patient calls, your statistics might be concealing big issues. For instance, what if 90/100 returning patients, or 90%, schedule an appointment on a certain day, but only 10/50, or 20%, of new patients do? Well, over all you might think you’re doing well because you’re scheduling 2/3 of your calls. That’s great, right? Wrong. Because you’d expect returning patients to schedule, and your new patient conversion rate is abysmal. The combined data gives you a false sense of security; the disaggregated data points you to a real problem in your practice and is one of the biggest reasons we find offices are so desperate for new patients.

Habit 5: Your Call-Tracker Lets You See How Many Calls Result in Appointments, and Tells You Which Staff Members Have the Best Conversion Rates

This should be a basic feature of all practice call-tracking software. The point of taking phone calls is to turn callers into patients. Unless you schedule an appointment, you’ll probably never hear from them again. It’s not enough to know when people call and why they call. To judge your staff performance and grow your practice, you need to know how many of those calls ultimately result in appointments. It’s also important to break this data out by staff member. Your office staff is not a monolith. Some people are better at convincing new patients to make appointments than others are. Some people do better greeting patients in office and handling paperwork. Good call-tracking software together with proper monthly reporting helps you ensure that you give the right duties to the right people. It also gives you concrete data so that you can approach struggling employees, show them where they’re making mistakes, and help them improve their performance. Plus, knowing with 100% certainty how many new patients scheduled from each of your advertising sources will allow you to track your ROI like none other.


Habit 6: Your Call-Tracker Lets You See the Reason for Calls that Don’t Convert to Appointments

Can we blindly trust those Staff Conversion numbers 100%? Is it always the employee’s fault if a caller chooses not to make an appointment? Of course not! Some callers will hang up without an appointment because you don’t take their insurance, because you don’t have an appointment available for several weeks, or because they’re simply shopping around and comparing prices. Without knowing why people fail to make an appointment, you won’t know what real barriers your office is putting up that keep people away and your staff won’t really be able to improve their conversion rates. Furthermore, this lack of information could cause you to focus your energies on an excellent employee who just had a bad run of calls rather than a struggling employee who’s gotten easy patients on the phone in the last month. Your call-tracker should give you enough data to weed out the ‘impossible to convert’ to the ‘we could have converted’ calls. It should alert you to any capacity issues present and give you a true measure of all of your team’s performances with new patients on the telephone.


Habit 7: Your Call-Tracker Helps You Determine ROI for Your Marketing Campaigns

How many actual new patients do your marketing campaigns attract to your office? Is that billboard worth the money you spent on it? Do customers who hear you on the radio but call you from your website tracking number go on to make appointments? Do you know they actually came from your radio ads? Did the Ad provide you enough Quantity and Quality of new patients to justify the expense? At the basic level, your call-tracker should tell you how many calls came in from which ad source. It should also give you the data you need to see how many actual new patients scheduled from each of those ad sources. If they scheduled, then it should also give you that person’s name. With that name, you can track what they spend in your offices, what they family they referred spent, etc. Now add up what they all spent in your practice over some period of time, factor in what the Ad cost you over that same time period and the result is the Whole Truth, your Actual ROI! Not the Half Truth, your Anticipated ROI or Estimated ROI, that comes from only having the total number of calls that came in by each Ad source. Is your call-tracking software up-to-date? If it’s failing at any of these 7 tasks, it may be time to search for a new vendor that provides more value to your practice. If you can track your calls and analyze the results, you can keep your practice on the path to independence and profitability. Remember, whatever is tracked, improves. Whatever is tracked and properly reported, improves exponentially!

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