Monday, July 18, 2011

The New Patient Experience . . . initial telephone call

First Impressions Matter
You know that old saying: “You never have a second chance to make a first impression”?  Well that old saying still means a lot in this day when exceptional customer service is so hard to find.  How your front office team handles the very first phone call from a new patient not only establishes the patient’s perception of how his or her visit will go, it even impacts the likelihood that they will refer their friends and family.
Scripting your Success
“Thank you for calling Smiles by Johnson, this is Dayna, how may I help you?” 
“Hi, this is Susie I want to schedule a cleaning appointment.” 
“Great, how long has it been since you have been in Susie?”
“Oh, I have never been there, I am a new patient.”

Now what do you do?  Does your office have a scripted phone slip you use?  If you have a well rehearsed format for handling the new patient phone call, the patient will feel heard and well taken care of.  I suggest creating a form that helps the team member navigate through all the questions that are necessary to ensure the patient has an amazing first appointment and the office collects enough information so the clinical team can treat the patient effectively.  Check out this sample Telephone Information Slip that was created by Pride Institute.

Integrating The Telephone Slip With Your Paperless Chart
Now that you have collected this information, where in the heck do you put it?  If your office is still using paper charts, you might put it in an accordion file until the patient comes in to their new patient exam and then stick in the paper chart.  But what if you office is chartless?  I know I don’t want to keep any paper.  I have a couple suggestions for you.  Does this screen look familiar?:

How many of you use the check boxes at the bottom of the Appointment box?  Did you know that they are customizable?  You can take the information that you gather from the initial telephone call and use this area to keep a checklist for yourself and other team members can see if there is any missing information.  That way, when your new patient comes in to her or his appointment, you will be completely prepared and your patient will feel heard and taken care of.
Now the next question . . . where to schedule this new patient?  I will tackle this question in my next post.

Dayna Johnson, Certified Dentrix Trainer
Dayna loves her work. She has over 25 years of experience in the dental industry, and she’s passionate about building efficient, consistent, and secure practice management systems. Dayna knows that your entire day revolves around your practice management software—the better you learn to use it, the more productive and stress-free your office will be. In 2016, Dayna founded Novonee ™, The Premier Dentrix Community, to help cultivate Dentrix super-users all over the country. Learn more from Dayna at and contact Dayna at


  1. just to note, I have heard recently that you should never say "how can I help you" when answering the phone. You should always make it obvious that you CAN help. So instead of asking How may I help you, you may say, "I can help you" or "who do I have the pleasure of speaking with?"

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