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8 Outgoing Phone Calls Your Practice Should Make with Jenni Poulos
Episode 3687th January 2022 • The Best Practices Show • ACT Dental
00:00:00 00:42:12

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8 Outgoing Phone Calls Your Practice Should Make

Episode #368 with Jenni Poulos

Every dentist and team member feels too busy — especially when it comes to making outgoing calls. But are you too busy to build your practice, or too busy to be more productive and profitable? You can create a better practice just by making phone calls, and Kirk Behrendt brings back Jenni Poulos to share how in Part Four of the Verbal Skills Webinar. To learn about the eight outgoing phone calls your practice needs to make, listen to Episode 368 of The Best Practices Show!

Main Takeaways:

Put energy into keeping patients you already have.

Be proactive in how you're reaching out to patients.

Lean into the relational aspect when making calls.

Be aware of HIPAA compliance when making outgoing calls.

Prep with patient information for outstanding treatment calls.

Save-the-date calls give you the gift of time.

Reminder calls should be 24 to 48 hours in advance.

Reminder calls are reminders, not confirmation calls.

Set aside time to get these calls done.


“We don't want to be a reactive team. We want to be a proactive team. We always want to be proactive in how we’re reaching out to patients and the things we’re reaching out to them about. It allows us to eliminate E - R = C (Expectations minus reality equals conflict), it allows us to build value, and it allows us to control our days.” (1:43—2:02)

“People think they have to put so much energy into getting new patients into the practice — you do. And let's put some energy into keeping the patients that we already have. So, this needs to be something that is systematized that happens consistently. Don't tell me, ‘My schedule is full, so I don't need to make these calls.’ Because I'll tell you what, if you don't make them, eventually, your schedule is not going to be as full. So, this recare/recall, we’re going to reach out to our patients and we’re going to invite them to get back on the books.” (5:23—6:04)

“When you're making outgoing phone calls, you have to be aware of HIPAA compliance. So, if we are leaving a message, we’ve got to be careful about what we say. We can't leave any personal health information. We can't talk about specific treatment that a patient is going to be needing. So, we want to just lean into the relational component of these.” (6:08—6:32)

“I like to tell teams to just KISS [with recare phone calls]. So, Keep It Simple Stupid. ‘Doc and I were talking about you. Give us a call. Dr. Poulos and I were chatting. We were thinking about you today. He asked me to give you a call. Give me a call back.’ A key thing there is that it’s not just me, Jenni, team member, saying, ‘Hey, I'm thinking about you,’ it’s doctor and I saying, ‘Hey, we were thinking about you.’ That little extra layer is going to get you some more return calls.” (7:18—7:52)

“Stay on top of [recare phone calls]. Set aside time to get them done. And we’re just letting patients know, ‘We’re thinking about you. Give us a call back.’ And you'll be able to get them on the schedule.” (8:47—9:04)

“If I haven't seen you in two years, I did see you at some point, I've established some sort of relationship with you already. Let's try to re-call you back to the practice. Also, I want my data to be clean. I want the data in my software to be clean. I want to know how many patients I really have. So, you've got a lot of patients sitting in there that have moved or that are now seeking care elsewhere. I want my software to accurately reflect the status of my patients. So, [the purging call] is going to help you get there.” (9:24—9:55)

“The reality is that the farther and farther and farther a patient goes away from being in your chair, the harder it is to get them back on the schedule and the harder it is to get them to schedule treatment.” (11:35—11:49)

“[For outstanding treatment calls], I want you to lean really, really heavily into that, ‘Hey, doctor and I were reviewing your chart. We’re thinking about you. Give us a call back.’ If you get them on the phone, get that RFR out there right away, that reason for return, what's going on. The example that we have on here about, ‘We've got some tooth decay. We don't want that to become any worse.’ When we get them on the phone, we want to know what's going on with that patient because, again, what are they hearing there? They're hearing that you value me, that you've listened to me, that you know what's going on with me. So, be prepared with all of the information about this patient when you call them. Don't just wing it and call. Know what you're calling about.” (14:27—15:20)

“You'll notice a very consistent theme here. All of these, I'm going to say, ‘Doctor and I,’ or, ‘Your provider.’ If it’s something hygiene, ‘Provider and I.’ ‘Doctor and I were talking about you. We’re thinking about you. Give us a call back.’ I can't say anything specific to the treatment, so what I want to convey is, ‘I care about you. Please give me a call.’” (17:00—17:25)

“I don't want an E - R = C [with consult follow-up calls]. So, patients had treatment presented. They're uncertain. They're not ready to move forward. I'm going to set a follow-up call with them when they’re there, ‘Mrs. Jones, I understand we’ve got some more questions. We’ve got to chat with our significant other. We have to check on some finances. Whatever it might be, I hear you. I understand. Let's set up a call so we can follow-up and review any questions that you might have. Does next week, Monday or Tuesday, work better for you? Does a.m. or p.m. work better for you?’ And then, I'm going to set that time. They're going to expect that I'm going to call, and I'm going to follow through with that expectation. The worst thing that you can do here is tell a patient, ‘I'm going to follow up with you next week,’ and then not do it. What a huge E - R is that.” (18:01—18:55)

“The farther the patient gets away from that presentation of treatment, the harder it’s going to be to get them on the schedule. And the more time that passes from when they hear from you, it’s harder to bring them back in. So, I don't want you to say, ‘You've got some questions? Okay. I'm going to follow up with you in a month.’ I'm going to follow up with you next week. And then, I'm going to follow up with you a week later. We’re not going to let this go months and months and months out. We want to stay in front of them and let them know, ‘This is important. This is an important thing. Your health is important. We are advocates for your health, so we are following up because we want to advocate for the right decision for your health.’” (20:39—21:25)

“This is a care call. You're only saying, ‘I care about you.’ This doesn't have to be referencing the treatment, specifically. It’s just, ‘Hey, how you doing? Went well today.’ My brother, younger, new age, he does these oftentimes via text. And that's okay. For younger patients, he sends them a text message because that's the cadence of communication that a lot of people have. Some of our older patients, he’ll still give them a call. But one way or another, you need to be doing this.” (24:26—25:02)

“People will forget what you say and did, but they’ll remember how you made them feel.” (29:08—29:11)

“I am telling all patients that their appointment is confirmed when scheduled. So, I don't need to be reconfirming that. I'm just peppering little reminders out there. So, the save-the-date call is, I want to make sure if you didn't get this on your calendar, it’s now on your calendar. I want to make sure that it’s back in front of you so you see it, you know it’s there. So, the save-the-date call is a reminder it’s two weeks out so if, by chance, they do need to change the appointment, I'm giving my team ample time to deal with that opening. So, the save-the-date is very simply, ‘Hey, looking forward to seeing you on July 23rd. If you have any questions, give us a call.’ I don't need to invite a call back. Inviting a call back can sometimes be making the patient feel that, ‘Oh, it’s not confirmed. I have to call back to confirm it.’ It’s just a reminder that I've got time reserved specifically for you and can't wait to see you.” (29:51—30:59)

“One of the most common things that I hear from every team member on every team that I've ever worked with is, ‘I don't have time. I don't have time.’ This [save-the-date] call gives you the gift of time and it allows you to not get into that panic mode. It allows you to have options to pull people forward. And then, you don't have to scramble. So, people tell me, ‘Oh, it’s an extra call. I don't have time.’ No, this gifts you time because I'm now allowing myself some space to put the right person in the right appointment time.” (34:29—35:13)

“Reminder call, 24 to 48 hours prior to the appointment. And again, I am not confirming you, I am just reminding you that I have time confirmed for you. This is a courtesy call, is really what it is. You will have some people that are going to try to move their appointment, and this is an opportunity for you to test some of those skills that we talked about in the first couple of webinars when people want to change or cancel their appointment. But again, we are just reminding you that we have reserved time for you, and it’s very simply that.” (35:54—36:40)

“When we refer someone out to a specialist, we’re broadening our care team. And that's really what it is. When you're a GP, you and the patient are a team together and you have to work well as a team to get the best care for them. That team approach builds when I bring in a specialist. So, it’s just letting your patient know, ‘We are a team together. I know what's going on there. They know what's going on here. Together, we both care for you. We are working to do what is best for you. We value you.’ It gives them confidence in you, confidence in the referral. This is a differentiator call that if you can make it, it’s on par with the care call.” (37:49—38:41)


0:00 Introduction.

1:35 Why outgoing phone calls are important in a dental office.

2:10 Outgoing call 1) Recare calls.

6:33 The best way to do recare calls.  

9:04 Outgoing call 2) Purging calls.

10:35 The 18-month window.

12:46 Outgoing call 3) Outstanding treatment calls.

17:25 Outgoing call 4) Consult follow-up calls.

18:56 E - R = C (expectations minus reality equals conflict).

19:52 Tethering your patients.

21:25 Outgoing call 5) Care calls.

24:16 It’s a care call, not a dental treatment call.

26:09 Doctors need to be making these calls.

28:03 Let your patients know two things.

29:15 Outgoing call 6) Save-the-date call.

31:23 Call far enough in advance.

35:43 Outgoing call 7) Reminder call.  

36:42 Outgoing call 8) Post specialist follow-up call.

Reach Out to Jenni:

Jenni’s email: 

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Jenni’s social media: @actdental


ACT Dental Verbal Skills Webinar:

Jenni Poulos Bio:

Jenni brings to dental teams a literal lifetime of experience in dentistry. As the daughter and sister of periodontists and a dental hygienist, she has been working in many facets of the dental world since she first held a summer job turning rooms and pouring models at the age of 12. Now, with over 10 years of experience in managing and leading a large periodontal practice, she has a firm grasp on what it takes to run a thriving business. Her passion for organizational health and culture has been a driving force behind her coaching career. She has witnessed firsthand how creating an aligned and engaged team will take a practice to levels of success that they never believed possible!