Practice Production: Case Acceptance #101

by Angie Drinic

Most would surely agree that having a semester dedicated exclusively to the psychology of Case Acceptance and New Patient Compounding before starting their dental career, would have been highly beneficial in dental school. Take into consideration these fundamental points before coming to any conclusions.

We all know, all too well that in order to have a successful practice the dentist and the team members need to be well prepared to deal with patients in a way that they have most likely never been trained on during their formal education. We rely on learning on the job, but is that enough? The psychology of human behaviour is a complicated issue, yet it can be mastered. When Dent-Cents is training teams the number one comment we get is; this is so obvious, yet we would have never thought to implement all these formats.

The dentist and the team members must comprehend these vital keys in order to increase case acceptance and get that coveted “YES.” Here are four essential keys that will help the practice increase their case acceptance immediately.

It all starts with the phone call and how it is handled. When the patient calls, they are taking that crucial step forward. Now the ball is in the court of the team member taking the call. We made over 50 calls to many dental practices all over Canada, asking a simple question; “Does your office offer whitening procedures?” 48 out of 50 made all three of these crucial mistakes. They did not ask for our name, they did not ask for our number, and they did not ask why we were interested in whitening? If they had asked for that fundamental information, it would have presented the opportunity to convert that call into a new patient knowing that dental offices get these calls all the time not only for whitening but many other procedures as well.

Whether the doctor or a treatment coordinator is in charge of the New Patients and the Case Presentations, here are four keys that will assist in the case acceptance.


Key Number 1.

When answering a call from a potential new patient, they must state their name twice. The first opportunity is when they thank the person for calling the office and then identifying themselves. The second opportunity will be after the caller states the purpose for their call. Instead of moving immediately towards answering any questions or statements, they must state their name again in order to get the caller’s name. Here is how you can get the best results.

a) “So again, my name is Angie, and yours is?” This format invites the caller to share their name without feeling interrogated.
b) The second step is; to ask for their phone number in case they get disconnected, this will allow them to call back immediately in case the call gets dropped.
c) The third one is asking; what got them interested in that particular procedure? Encourage the caller to share their story.
d) Say their name at least three times in the conversation. “There is nothing sweeter than the sound of one’s own name. Dale Carnegie” this will help in the likeability factor. People tend to hold likability in higher regard than expertise.

The more information we have, the better prepared we will be to answer all their queries accurately. Too often we want to speak more than ask all the right questions. The information provided will give the practice the opportunity to establish a better relationship with the new patient and the tools to follow up if the appointment is not booked.


Key Number 2.

Creating a long-lasting relationship between the practice and the patient can be challenging. We are limited to our information about them; here are just a few of the many fundamental questions that can be asked during the first phone call.

a) Mrs. Patient, in order for us to give you the best service possible during your appointment, may I ask you a few questions?
b) What can we do to ensure that your appointment becomes an excellent experience?
c) What is the most significant information you would like your doctor/hygienist to know before your appointment?

These questions will leave the team armed with some powerful information they can use to impress the new patient and leave them wanting more. The format only works when the information is shared with the team in the morning meeting on the day of the patient’s appointment.


Key Number 3.

Now it’s finding out what is most important to the patient. In other words, ask more questions while the patient is in the chair. Here are some of the reasons that motivate patients to move forward with treatment.

a) Appearance
b) Comfort
c) Money

By identifying what is most important to the patient, it will create ease when presenting the procedure that will get them what they want. If the patient shares that the most important thing to them is “Appearance,” the case presentation will be highly effective if it is geared around how moving forward with the proposed treatment plan will get them what they want. Share with them how not moving forward will affect what is most important to them, if not now, soon. Another example will be if they shared that “Money” is what concerns them the most. Present the treatment plan mapping out how it will affect the price, and how it will cost them much more money in the long run if they wait until it gets worst.

The bottom line is “People do things, for their reason, not ours.” If we can remember this rule, we will be far ahead of most dental practices.


Key Number 4.

Linking correctly; this is what will make one of the most significant impacts in the office. Think about the last time you called your doctor’s office to make an appointment and had to explain why you needed the appointment over the phone. On the day of your appointment, you show up at the front desk only to be asked: “What brings you in today Mr. Patient?” You repeat your symptoms and take a seat. The nurse comes out to retrieve you, you follow her down the hall into the operatory room, and you take a seat, she asks you; Mr. Patient what brings you in today? You repeat the symptoms for the 3rd time. She then leaves the room after documenting the issue and proceeds to call the doctor. The doctor walks in and asks you; yes, if you guessed, he asks for your symptoms for the 4th time, you are correct.

The incident leaves no patient with a pleasant memory of the experience. Linking correctly is vital, here are two out of four links that are essential to case acceptance.

a) Get as much information as possible over the phone, document it, and share it with the rest of the team, save it in a place where the whole practice knows how to access it at any given moment.
b) When the patient comes in and if the team member that took the call is there, have that team member take the patient back and introduce the new patient to the provider, share the information they want to be known including the reason for the appointment.

Before walking away, ask the patient if any information was left out, to ensure they feel what’s important to them has been shared. If the person that took the appointment is not available, do not fret, as long as the information is always well documented, accessible, and shared adequately with the rest of the team, the appointment will be a success.

Share these keys with the team, sit down with your right-hand person and come up with a plan on how you will implement these ideas, set up a “Smart Action Plan” make it Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic (ROI) and Timely.” Involve all the team to ensure the success of the plan. People tend to follow through with what they perceive as their own ideas more than what is commanded to them.

About the Author
Angie Drinic is the founder of Dent-Cents and the creator of many dental training courses. The company is dedicated to training teams all over Canada and is a dental management training leading source. She is a public speaker and trainer with close to 4 decades of dental experience. She is also the author of many training videos. Dent-Cents currently delivers a leadership course at McMaster University Burlington Campus. Angie will be conducting another of her courses at The Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University in London Ontario starting in March of 2019 as part of their continuing education curriculum.