How To Train Your Front Office Staff To Get Results – Part 1

October 1, 2019

Trent Wehrhahn


What can be so hard about answering the phone and booking people in for appointments, right?

Don’t take this part of your marketing system lightly. One of the places many dental offices drop the ball is the training they give their front office staff.

The people who answer the phone are the first point of contact most prospective new patients will have with your office. Handle that wrong and your new patient counts can take a dive, handle them right and your bookings can improve dramatically.

An example of this comes from one of our clients. We were running both online and traditional marketing campaigns, tracking calls and web conversions, and getting what we thought were good results. That was until we got the new patient numbers from the client. They were not nearly where we would have expected with the volume of calls and website submissions.

We quickly went to the call recordings to see if we could see anything that could be affecting the conversion rates so dramatically.

The first thing that jumped out at us was the length of the calls. Many of them were in the 6 to 10-minute range with some topping out at over 15 minutes! No wonder the front desk felt busy!

After listening to these calls we could tell right away why the calls were going so long and to our dismay not converting even after that amount of time spent on the phone.

Here is what we found:

As you can tell these 5 things may have caused some calls to go longer and even more to not convert to new patients.

Here’s how we think they should have gone.

First, we need to ensure the receptionists knew the importance of not being rushed when they picked up the phone even if everything felt that way. They needed to speak slowly and clearly so each caller knew for sure they reached the right place and had the name of the person they were speaking to.

Second, no matter what the caller said they need to take control of the call by saying, “Absolutely I can help you with that. Can I get your name and number in case we get disconnected?”

This is tough for people to do. They find it cumbersome and awkward but as long as the caller is asking the questions, they are in control. Plus, what if they don’t end up closing? You can call them back tomorrow and see how they made out. Nobody else is doing that in your area I bet!

What about existing patients? Should you ask them for a name and number too? Yes! Well, not exactly. You can use your caller ID and say something like, “Hey John, is the number you called me from ending in 1234 the best number to call you back if we get disconnected?”

Why would you do that? Why get a number that you already have? Habit, that’s why. If your staff are in the habit of asking on every call, they won’t forget on the calls they really need to.

Now that they have control of the call they should keep control by continuing to ask questions. The scripting for that is another post but if someone can do those two things (clear greeting and ask for Name and phone number) after a single training session I am ecstatic!

We did 2 training sessions of about 25 min each on these two items. The first didn’t go over so well but at least they tried to implement what they learned. They didn’t get it right even half the time but their closing rate went up and they felt more confident when answering the phone. The call length dropped as well. No more 10-15 minute calls…almost .

After the second session they were at least asking for name and number more than half the time. Their closing rate went up again and the call length dropped as well.

Now we could look at the next step which was building value. But that’s another post.

Trent Wehrhahn


Trent Wehrhahn is the founder and President of Dental Growth Strategies. With his years of multinational sales and marketing experience with dental offices, he has focused his strengths on marketing solutions for local dental offices just like yours.

At DGS we help you assess where you are at and implement a custom marketing plan that gets results.