Answer the phone before the third ring. Patients calling the office can only hear the ringing. They cannot see a patient standing in front of the desk, being helped. However, the patient at the desk hears the telephone and understands that it must be answered. When new patients get busy signals, they may forget to call back, or look for another dentist who isn’t so busy. Answering after the third ring gives the impression that the office is uncaring or disorganized.
Putting a patient on “hold” is a sure way to chill enthusiasm. Being placed on hold says that the caller is not important enough to rate immediate attention. The first caller always has priority, so make the second answer brief. To the first caller say, “Excuse me, Mrs. Jones, my other line is ringing. I’ll be right back.” To the second caller say, “Good morning, Dr. Smileys office. This is Alison. I have another call. Can you hold for a few moments, or may I call you back. Never answer with, “Can you hold please (click)?”
Placing a Patient on Hold
“Mr. Jones, it may take a few minutes to locate those forms. May I call you back rather than keep you waiting?”
“Alison is on another line. Would you like to hold, or may I take a message?”
“Would you mind if I put you on hold while I tell Alison you are on the line?”
“This will take me just a moment; would you care to wait or may I call you back?”
“I have another call. Can you wait just a moment, or may I call you back?”
Staff phone calls are made at lunch or break time. If someone other than a patient calls the office and asks to speak to a staff member take a message and tell the caller that the staff person will return the call at their next break.
Personal calls disrupt office efficiency. If the receptionist spends a lot of time answering calls for the doctor and staff about their personal business, then the business of the practice is being overlooked. It is intolerable for any staff member to waste time on the phone chatting to friends and family. It is not acceptable to other staff members who are striving to achieve certain production goals and it is certainly unacceptable the doctor. Excessive time spent chatting on the phone is grounds for dismissal from the practice