The Importance of a Transition Statement
If you own a dental office and you want your staff to book more new patient appointments, then they must master the use of a transition statement.
A transition statement is a powerful tool that will allow your staff to take control of the conversation, build trust with prospective patients, and ultimately secure them as new patients.
But what exactly is a transition statement, and how do we use it? Keep reading to find out!
What is a Transition Statement?
A transition statement is a single sentence that can change the entire course of a call. This one simple sentence allows receptionists to take control of the conversation so that the call goes smoothly and is much more engaging.
Without the use of a transition statement, a call will often end up being led by the patient and the conversation doesn’t go where it needs to, resulting in the patient ending the call without booking an appointment.
How Not to Book an Appointment
Often, when a new prospective patient calls your office, the conversation might go something like this:
Patient: “Hi, do you guys do dental implants?”
Receptionist: “Yes we do.”
Patient: “Ok… how much do you guys charge for implants?”
At which point, most dental receptionists will assume that the patient is a price shopper calling around to find the cheapest dentist in their area. They’re not alone. We used to think this too– until we learned better from our friends at All-Star Dental Academy.
According to All-Star, when a patient calls asking for the price, they’re not asking because they’re comparing costs to other practices, but because they simply don’t know what else to ask!
In other words, they don’t know how to begin the conversation. But neither do the dental receptionists. We have listened to thousands of dental calls and when a patient asks about the price, as in the above exchange, most receptionists respond with something like this:
“Oh well… I’m not sure…it really depends… everyone is different… you’d have to come in for a consultation”.
Not only do responses like this fail to lead the conversation anywhere, but they also risk making patients feel like you are not being upfront with them. They might suspect that you just want to get them in the door, and they won’t book as a result.
This might lead us to believe that the best course of action is to be upfront about the cost… but this doesn’t work either.
Let’s say the receptionist answers with a firm amount, like:
“At our office, dental implants start at $3,000 per tooth.”
At this point, the patient’s question has been answered, leaving them with no choice but to say something like:
“Oh… okay… thanks,” and hang up.
When this happens, not only are we left without the patient’s name or their phone number for a follow-up, we don’t know anything about their issues, whether they were missing one tooth or multiple teeth, whether they were calling for themselves or someone else– we don’t know anything at all and the conversation ultimately went nowhere.
How Transition Statements Work
A transition statement allows us to take control of the conversation and steer prospective patients toward booking an appointment. The following is a great example of a standard transition statement:
“I’d be happy to help you with that today. Would you mind if I ask you a few questions so I can better assist you?”
A sentence like this can make all the difference in how well a call goes. Let’s take a look at how the previous exchange might play out with the use of a transition statement:
Patient: “Hi, do you guys do dental implants?”
Receptionist: “Absolutely. We’ve got a very talented dentist in our office who has done hundreds of implants, he’s an artist when it comes to that type of thing. Are you looking for some information on implants?”
Patient: “Uh… yeah. How much do you guys charge for implants?”
Receptionist: “I’d be happy to help you with that today. Would you mind if I ask you a few questions so I can better assist you?”
Patient: “Sure, okay”
Receptionist: “Great! Well, my name is Andrea, who do I have the pleasure of speaking with today, and would you mind giving me your phone number in case we get disconnected?”
This one simple sentence has shifted the power away from the patient and into the hands of the receptionist, allowing them to assume the role of the expert. The transition statement signals to the patient that the receptionist has done this before and that there is a process in place for the service they are looking for.
Because the receptionist now has the power on this call, they can ask investigative questions that will build trust and rapport with the patient. The following are a few examples of good investigative questions:
- “How did you find out about us?”
- “Are you looking for implants for yourself or someone else?”
- “Are you missing one tooth or multiple teeth?”
- “Is it top or bottom? Left or right?”
- “Is it causing you any pain? Are you having any trouble eating?”
You can see how these questions can lead to a much more engaging and meaningful conversation with a patient. Even if they do call a dozen other offices, it’s going to work in your favor because you will have been the only office to make a great impression.
A transition statement creates trust and people buy from people they trust. Make sure your staff knows how to use it, and that they use it on every call because it’s going to make a huge difference in the quality of conversations they are having with patients, and ultimately in the number of appointments you book.
While marketing can get the phone to ring with new patients, it’s important to remember that how well your staff does on the phone plays a big role in how many patients actually come through your door.
You could get ten new patients calling this week, but if your staff are not well trained and have no idea what to say to patients to maximize their chance of booking, then those ten new patient leads may only result in two to three new appointments. Meanwhile, there could be another dental practice in your area that is spending just as much on marketing while also securing ten new patient leads. However, if their staff is well trained in how to talk to new patients, those ten new patient leads could result in 7-8 new appointments for that practice.