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Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS is known as a top dental consultant by Dentistry Today.

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One More Tip That Will Help Reduce Last Minute Cancellations

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

March 18, 2015

Dental Professionals know that open operatories destroy the dental practices profit. When the office is silent, the dentist and entire team risk losing their job!

Unfortunately, no strategy will completely eliminate last minute cancellations and  no-shows. Howver, here are some strategies you can employ to keep downtime to a minimum.

During the month of March I will create one video tip each week and then write a little about how you can implement this and help keep patients coming back to your office.

This week I want to talk about one more tip that will help  reduce last minute cancellations.

Do you have an after-hours message on a voice mail for your office?

Most offices do have a message machine where patients can leave a message when the office is closed.

What does your voice message say to patients who call your office after hours?

Do you allow patients to leave a message to cancel their dental appointment?

Many times leaving a message about appointment cancellations is a scape goat for the patient.

State in your after-hours voice message “This voicemail does not accept cancellations. All cancellations must be made in during business hours.”

Also consider if you do feel it’s necessary for your patients to leave this type of message AND if you have your patients trained right…your patients will only cancel when they have an emergency situation. If you are the doctor, don’t you want to know about a personal emergency with your patients?

Your patients are most likely a friend and in the case of an emergency and they do need to cancel last minute, have your answer machine state that if there is an emergency situation that requires a change in their appointment they need to call doctor at such-and-such phone number.

Most patients will not call doctor UNLESS it really is an emergency.

My point here is:

  • #1 do not allow patients to leave a message to cancel their appointment on your voicemail.
  • #2 is if you MUST allow patients to leave messages on your voicemail to change an appointment at have your voicemail state that if the patient does need to change their appointment, they must call doctor personally. This will eliminate the scape goats from calling because (as I stated in last week’s video) too often patients value another type of appointment over their dental appointment and they will call last minute to cancel their dental appointment. Seldom do people call to cancel their massage, spa appointment or haircut! AND
  • #3 if you communicate via text and emails with your patients, let me know these types of communication are not accepted when a patient needs to change their dental appointment. The must call to change an appointment during office hours.
  • #4 is eliminating the word cancel and instead say “Change in appointment”.

What challenges do you have with cancellations in your office?

What has worked well to reduce cancellations for your office?

Please do share below.