A dentist, or any healthcare practitioner, for that matter, cannot build a successful practice on the basis of skill alone. Communication is also important. Dentists who can match their professional skills with communication skills may have a better practice. If you are not able to communicate with your patients, if they do not trust you and believe in your dental abilities, you would have failed in your job. Trust is the basis of a dentist-patient relationship. You should be able to talk in such a way that puts the patient at ease and allay his fears.
Think as if the patient is in front of you when you speaking to them on the phone
Many dentists do not look their patients in the eye when they speak, or listen to them. This can be due to various reasons like shyness, communication problems or other factors. Note that avoiding eye contact is not considered good etiquette in the west. If you avoid eye contact, people will think that you are hiding something or that your intentions are not good.
It is true that you cannot see people you are speaking to on the phone. But what is stopping you from thinking that you are looking them in the eye when you speak? The only tools at your disposal, when you speak on the phone are your voice and the tone you take. This is enough for the patient to conclude how you are feeling about talking to them and what you are thinking.
Tips to speak on the phone as if you are looking at the patient in the eye
It is generally seen that dentists who are fully able to engage with their patients who are in front of them, have little trouble conveying the same feeling when they speak on the phone. This is because they are able to connect the one-on-one conversation with how they speak on the phone.
Try standing up when you speak to the patient. It is a sign you ready to fully engage with the patient and give him or her your undivided attention. Job seekers use this technique when they are giving telephonic interviews.
A dentist may have to face many distractions when they are working, so they end up multi tasking. As a result, they are not able to fully engage with their patients on the phone. So avoid all distractions when you speak on the phone. Never have full conversations with patients, on the phone, if there is another patient in front of you. You will not be able to do justice to the patient on the phone and you end up antagonizing the patient in front of you.
Note that he or she is paying your fees and expects your full attention. If you don’t do this, the patient will think that you are in it only for the money. If you get a call from a patient when there is a patient with you, tell the caller that you will call them back. Return the call when you can give them your full attention.
Speak clearly and in an empathetic fashion
In dentistry, communication is vital but many dentists do not have the time to fully engage with their patients when they call and it can have a big impact. The patient may not tell you but he might think that you are pursuing your own agenda and not his. So show empathy when you speak to your patients on the phone, and be clear in your communication.
Note that it is not enough for you to be able to give information to the patient on the phone. How you do it and how the patient feels when he or she hears you, is more important. So engage with patients on the phone as if they are in front of you, and see the difference it makes to your business.