Guest blogger Cathy Sundvall, of Kissimmee, Florida, serves as a consultant, trainer and lecturer for orthodontic practice enhancement. Cathy believes that orthodontic practices should us phone on hold messaging as part of an overall patient communication strategy. For over 34 years, Cathy has immersed herself in techniques, systems and methods to improve the performance of orthodontic practices and their teams. In this article, she provides tips and ideas for putting an effective message-on-hold program into place.
Using Your Hold Button As A Marketing Tool
Guest Author: Cathy Sundval
HOLD PLEASE, MAKE THE MOST OF THE TIME YOUR PATIENTS SPEND ON HOLD
Your telephone is one of the most effective and least expensive practice marketing tools available – if you are using “on-hold” messaging. It’s pretty safe to say that targeting your practice information to pre-qualified callers will produce the best results for your marketing dollars. It’s crucial to remember that every caller, whether or not they are existing patients or parents, could react to a need for your orthodontic services, either for themselves, their child, a friend or an acquaintance.
In the perfect orthodontic practice, you would never place callers on hold. No practice is perfect, however, so it pays not to overlook the importance of what callers hear when they contact your practice. Research has proven that, for prospective patients, what happens in those first 60 seconds will mean the difference between requesting your services or hanging up the phone.
THE SOUND OF YOUR PRACTICE
You may know what your practice “looks” like…but ask yourself, “What does my practice “sound” like?” When you place your callers on hold, what do they hear? Are you advertising for other practices by playing a radio station while on hold or frustrating callers with “dead” silence? Keep in mind that, with on-hold messaging, you can use on- hold that time productively by creating a “talking newsletter” that provides useful information about your practice, services, staff, and unique image.
Some practices use on-hold messaging because they understand that anything is better than silence. In fact, on-hold messaging (let’s call it educating and marketing to callers) is a under-used tool that enables you to speak to your potential patients and patient family one on one.
WHEN TO HOLD ’EM
Maybe you feel you don’t place patients on hold often enough to consider on-hold messaging. Think again, on average 70% of your calls will be placed on hold. Your patients can and will be placed on-hold for a number of possible reasons:
They are waiting to speak with someone when they first call in, and the receptionist is busy.
- They are being transferred to the appropriate team member who can answer a financial question.
- They are waiting to talk to a staff member or orthodontist that maybe with a patient at the chair; and
- They are waiting while a member of your staff is getting information or pulling their chart .
Here are 10 vital pieces of information that you can pass along via on-hold messaging:
- Spark their interest in a new innovative treatment modality: Incognito™ Hidden Braces, Invisalign, and aesthetic brackets
- Reinforce your branding strategy, “We start treatment at the right time!”
- Tell them more about your practice mission and your vision
- Inform them about your office hours and days in the office
- Present your scheduling and appointment policy
- Answer your most frequently asked questions
- I them to the doctor, associate or team member of the month
- Inform them about upcoming contests, patient events and marketing events, both internal and external
- Inform them of employment opportunities
- Remind them about your website address
MAKING THE MESSAGE
Once you know what you want your on-hold message to say, you need to focus on how you want to say it.
Consider both male and female voices for your on-hold messages.
Did you know that choosing either a male or a female voice could radically affect the overall message you intend to send. Male voices are typically used to sell products, while female voices are used to convey emotion. Keep that in mind when choosing both your message and voice, as many times orthodontics is an “emotional choice”.
Music plays an important supporting role in your on hold message.
It should reflect the general tastes of your patient families and represent your practices identity in a positive manner. Keep in mind that long periods of music may make your patient’s mind wander. The purpose of music in any message is to help carry the words to the listener, to help callers more easily understand and accept your message, and to convey the feeling of the type of practice with which they are dealing.
Use Voice Clips from Patients, Referring Dentists and Your Team Members.
These satisfied patients, referring dentist and team members are an excellent source for on-hold testimonials. Their stories and endorsements are effective-easy on hold marketing messages that should be conveyed to your callers. People relate better to actual voices and believe the endorsements far more than if they were given a brochure to read.
Educate, don’t entertain!
You want to educate and inform the callers about your practice, your services, and especially how you fill their needs. Avoid the bells and whistles, stick to the relevant information and facts, and they will hold longer.
Change your voicemail message daily.
Some patients would prefer to leave a message rather than wait on hold, so change your voicemail message daily. You should include the date, your current status and a turn-around time for your return calls. This greatly reduces phone tag with patients/parents, referring doctors and vendors and lets them know that you are in the office and available to help them.
WHAT YOU HEAR IS WHAT YOU GET
One of the major benefits I have seen of having ON-HOLD MUSIC AND MESSAGES is how much it enhances the image of a practice. When I call a practice, I often asked to be placed on-hold to learn more about them, When I hear a high quality, on-hold production with music and a great voice talent, I automatically assume the practice is established, professional, and likely puts patients first. In the orthodontic practice perception and image is everything.
The bottom line is that placing a caller on hold is an opportunity to start an exchange of ideas. On-hold messaging is one of the most cost-efficient and targeted methods of driving your message home to your patients and potential patients. Plus, an on-hold message program is like having a marketing department working in your office 24/7 for pennies. What a bargain.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cathy Sundval is an experienced orthodontic practice coach and trainer, based in Kissimmee, Florida USA. Cathy’s goal in working with practices is to contribute to the overall enhancement of the practices health, improve productivity and quality of the team members, and increase profitability of the operations. As a result, the practice and team members increase the excellence of service to their patients.