Dentists lose patients, turn to virtual answering service

December 4th, 2008


Imagine the following scenario: You arrive home from work on a Tuesday at around 5:00 o’clock. You have been feeling a sharp pain in your tooth that continues to become more intense. Finally, you decide you cannot take the pain anymore so you call your dentist’s office. You know they are open until 6:00. The first two times you call, you get a busy signal. The third time, a receptionist answers and responds “Hold please”. After three minutes of waiting, you hang up the phone. Finally, you make a connection at five minutes until close only to have an abrupt receptionist tell you the office is now closed and to call first thing in the morning.

The aforementioned scenario happens many times a day in dentist’s office across the country. Why? Because overwhelmed and stressed receptionists, working with simplistic phone capabilities are unequipped to effectively manage the multitude of patients, phone calls, and other tasks that come their way. The solution? A virtual answering service that essentially serves as a backup receptionist can be the saving grace for a dental practice.

A virtual answering service is a high quality technology that operates as a backup call answering service in the event a live agent is away, on the phone, or unable to respond to a caller for some other reason. Many of the phone calls a receptionist receives are for routine needs, such as appointment scheduling. A call answering service is extremely well-developed to assist callers efficiently and accurately with scheduling an appointment. In fact, most people would agree that it is much better to work with a quick and effective virtual answering service than to face busy signals, delays, or abrupt receptionists. Keeping patients happy is obviously important to the long-term viability of any dental practice.

The best virtual answering service solutions are actually more capable in many situations at handling calls like the one described above. Whereas handling an urgent need call can be a challenge or a process for a receptionist, a virtual answering service can answer multiple calls at once and is designed to immediately connect the caller to the appropriate care provider in the event of an emergency or urgent need.

Does this mean a live receptionist is no longer needed in a dentist’s office? Absolutely not. Personalized care, completion of complex office tasks, and processing of insurance claims paperwork are among the many important jobs that receptionists must attend to on a daily basis. However, assistance in managing appointment schedule and immediate transfer of emergency calls are tasks that can be effectively performed by a medical answering service. This frees up the receptionist to focus on key responsibilities and give better attention to the needs of patients and more complicated situations. Plus, a virtual answering service can be acquired with a moderate up front cost and requires little to no ongoing maintenance, making it an excellent value as a backup receptionist. Receptionists are more than happy to have the support.

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