Front Desk Fails!

Front Desk Fails!

Why your reception team is critical to the success of digital marketing campaigns

I thought I’d sign off our blogs for 2021 with a couple of salutary tales and a reminder of just how critical the dental admin and reception team is in the success of digital marketing campaigns.

This was brought home to me quite dramatically in a couple of similar cases over the last couple of weeks where a lack of communication and insufficient systems at the practice threatened to lose lots of new patient enquiries.

Scenario 1

In the first example, we launched a new website for a long-standing, ‘traditional’ practice, introducing ways for patients to get in touch using mechanisms that the practice clearly were not used to. These were essentially enquiries coming from contact forms on the new website, both general enquiries and also treatment specific ones from different pages on the website.

We had discussed the benefits of a new website with the dentist, including ease of enquiry using the usual website contact forms. The email address for submitted enquiries was agreed and quite soon after the website launch we saw plenty of enquiries coming in via this channel. We could also see the “conversions” being registered in Google Analytics – so all good; at least so we thought!

A few days later, the practice manager called to ask us to remove the contact forms because the front-desk team was apparently being overwhelmed and had no clue what to do with them. We were somewhat taken aback by this as normally we use the number of contact form enquiries as a key indicator of a successful dentist website.

Clearly we did not go-ahead with removing the contact forms, instead we notified the principal and advised what had happened so that the appropriate measures could be taken at the practice to bring the admin team up-to-speed with what was required.

Scenario 2

In the second example, we launched a wide-reaching Facebook and Instagram advertising campaign for a dentist seeking new private dentistry patients. Exactly the same thing happened as in the earlier example with the front-desk team complaining that they didn’t have time to deal with the influx of new enquiries. Again we addressed this to the principal so that the necessary training and resources could be made available at the practice.

What went wrong?

What was slightly disconcerting in both cases was that a member of the admin team contacted us to intervene as they felt that their teams could not cope. Whether this was actually the case or not is difficult for a marketing team to establish; however it does demonstrate the critical need to ensure that the practice team is fully aware of any new marketing initiatives and what to expect. Normally we explain exactly what to expect, how new enquiries will arrive and advice on how to handle them. Unfortunately in both of the cases briefly discussed above, it appears that this was not passed on at the practice, resulting in confusion and worse, the potential for lost new patient enquiries.

Consider a CRM – customer relationship management system

Clearly you need robust procedures within a dental practice, whether these are “routine” or come as the result of a specific marketing campaign. Failure to follow-up quickly and diligently will certainly result in the enquiry going cold and worse, potential for reputational damage. So as a minimum, procedures need to be implemented and periodically audited to ensure compliance. This is also essential to close the feedback loop on your marketing and allow you to see what is working and what isn’t.

Many of our dental marketing clients now use a CRM system (customer relationship management) to record new enquiries, follow them up and then track them right through to the completion of treatment. This way, enquiries can be categorised and it provides a very structured and disciplined was to ensure that enquiries are optimised – nothing gets lost. Some set-up and training is needed, but it’s very well worth it. Please call us for more information.

Key learning points

Whilst it may seem obvious that a front-desk team is equipped to handle new patient enquiries however they come in to the practice, experience suggests otherwise. We need to remember that people get used to their way of working and when something new comes along, it can be disconcerting and lead to knee-jerk responses; sometimes without the principal’s knowledge.

In these two examples we see how something seemingly straightforward as dealing with lots of new patient enquiries didn’t go as planned, even though the practice leader had been advised what to expect. It’s clearly quite a busy and uncertain time again at the moment but it’s essential to keep an eye on the fundamentals to ensure that extremely important things such as new patient enquiries, don’t get mishandled.

We’ve certainly learned a lesson from those unexpected examples and will try even harder to stress the importance of the dental admin team in the success of marketing campaigns moving forwards.

This may well be something to consider in your own practice as you plan for the year ahead? Are the systems you think you have in place coping as well as you believed?

Please enjoy the break and best wishes for the New Year from all the team at Dental Media. We will be closed for routine work between Christmas and New Year but please use 01332 672548 in case of an urgent issue or to lodge a new enquiry.