Phone Skills Are Still Important

posted by Kathy Everitt on Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Phone Skills Are Still Important

Good telephone skills are often overlooked, but they are important to building good rapport with patients. 

Offices are busy. Dentists may feel overextended with a multitude of practice management concerns on their mind. It’s no surprise they may be unintentionally short with patients while on the telephone.

Despite all the technological tools at our disposal, the old fashioned hard-wired “landline” telephone remains one of the most often used communication tools between dentists, patients and colleagues. Follow these easy tips to ensure you consistently make a good impression over the telephone:  

  • When possible, answer calls before the third ring.
  • Answer with a warm greeting and don’t forget to smile—it carries through your tone of voice.
  • Callers like knowing who they’re speaking with, so be sure to identify yourself by name. 
  • Always ask how you can help.
  • Practice active listening skills. Be in the moment and be attentive to the caller.
  • Repeat back to the caller the reason for his/her call to ensure you heard and understood correctly.
  • Before transferring a caller, explain the reason for the transfer and ask for permission. 
  • Ask if the caller is okay with being connected to voicemail if the other party is unavailable.
  • Always ask for permission before placing a caller on hold.
  • In the case of abusive callers, try to diffuse the situation and advise the caller that to be helped they must use appropriate language. If the caller continues using inappropriate language, warn them that the call could be terminated.

In the case of sensitive calls or complaints, do not argue, contradict or interrupt the caller. Thank the caller for bringing the situation to your attention and advise them that it will be looked into immediately. Share with the caller the name of the designated staff person (typically an office manager) who will be calling them and provide a time when that may occur. For example:  “I understand you are unhappy with ________. I am very sorry this situation upset you. I will share your concerns with our office manager, ________. He/She will get back to you _______ (by the end of the day).”

Remember to document all relevant telephone calls including the time and date. Provide sufficient documentation details to ensure that the reader of the entry will have a clear understanding of the reason for the call and how the call was handled.

To learn more about tips for handling office and staff situations, go to:

Blog Author

Kathy Everitt

Senior Risk Management Consultant

Kathy brings with her more than 30 years of professional liabil...

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