Question:When calling a patient to confirm their appointment, what should I be saying?
Answer from Coach Missy: Even before the pandemic, we had specific skills we used when confirming appointments -the type of appointment scheduled, repeating the date and time at least twice – just to name a few. It is important to remember the why behind confirmation calls. We are not just reminding patients of their appointment, we are doing everything we can to make sure they SHOW UP for the appointment. #buttsinthechair
Due to the current pandemic and all of the uncertainty it brings, patients will have questions and concerns that need to be addressed and teams should prepare to answer those in a helpful, appropriate and consistent way.
Each office is different but in every office the check in/check out process will look different than it has in the past. Your team needs to send a consistent message to patients about how the new process will work, and this includes explanation of:
Arrival/Check in – Will they text from the car? Will they wait outside the door? Will a team member escort them in?
Once inside – Will they stop at the front desk? Will they go straight back to the operatory? Are you asking patients to handle payment & scheduling next appointments prior to going back to the operatory?
When treatment is complete – Will they exit the same way they entered? Will they stop at the front desk or will check-out be handled in the operatory? Has payment been handled? Did they schedule their next appointment prior to going back or in the operatory at the end of the appointment?
One new concern is going to be safety and infection control. Patients want reassurance that you are following the necessary protocols so they feel comfortable coming to the office. “Our main concern has always been the health and safety of our patients and our team members. As always, we continue to maintain the highest standards of sterilization and are following all of the guidelines as set forth by the ADA and our state dental association along with the CDC and other experts.” We do not need to go into deep detail about disinfection but we are letting patients know we are current with the standards and are staying up to date on any changes.
Another question patients may ask is “How long will my appointment take?”. Honesty is the best policy with this. “We will do our best to treat you in an efficient manner. We are all still getting used to the changes we have implemented. If the appointment takes a few minutes longer than expected, it is due to the fact that we are doing everything we can to make sure you are safe.” Managing patient expectations is important. I would rather let patients know we may run behind than have an upset or confused patient.
As time goes on, there may be other concerns patients may have. My advice is always to be honest and up front and let them know you are doing everything you can to keep them safe and healthy. If you are not sure about an answer – let them know that. This is an uncertain time for everyone. “Our doctor and our team are continuing to learn about new protocols as they become available and we are always working to continually maintain a safe environment for our office team as well as our patients.”
This may seem like a lot to cover in the confirmation call, but the more information the patients have in advance, the better. We are expecting them to follow an entirely new set of “guidelines”. Offering details prior to their appointment will help alleviate fears and help with the flow of the appointment.