Word perfect

Excellent verbal skills are a key ingredient to the success of dental practices. ‘One cannot not communicate’, as the old saying goes.

Every practice system – scheduling, customer service and case presentation to name a few – depends on communication. The better you and your team deal with patients, the more successful your practice is likely to become. For cosmetic and elective services, communication plays an even more vital role in affecting patient perceptions.

Top practices achieve exceptional performance by developing an excellent ability to communicate with patients. However, it is not good enough for the dentist alone to be an excellent communicator. Every member of the dental team must be skilled in educating and motivating patients to seek good oral health.

The good news is that staff members can learn to improve their verbal skills, which will benefit both the team and the practice. Not only do verbal skills help to create and

maintain a superior positive attitude, but they will also change the way people view the level of intelligence, sophistication and manners you and your team possess.

Creating scripts

Scripts can be created for different aspects of your practice, but all of them should be customised to maximise the capabilities of your team members. These factors can help you create and implement effective scripts in your practice:

1. Consistency. Scripting provides patients with consistent messaging. One of the most frustrating experiences for a patient is when he or she hears conflicting answers regarding the same question. It gives the appearance that the dental staff does not know what they are talking about. Such an experience undermines case acceptance and could, in the long run, lead to patients leaving the practice.

2. Power words. Power words are enthusiastic words that create positive energy and are used many times at the beginning of sentences. Words like great, terrific, wonderful, fantastic, super and awesome are examples of power words, and they shouldn’t be used only by you. Team members should also be upbeat and motivating. No matter how upbeat and positive you may be, a negative or disinterested team member can deflate what might have been an excellent case presentation.

3. Customisation. Scripts should not be recited word for word, as if a team member had memorised a speech. Rather, staff members should use their own words, paraphrasing the scripts, so that the essential information is communicated to the patient in a natural and positive way. Scripts should be used as a guide, providing staff members with direction and suggestions on the best ways to communicate with patients.

4. Role-playing. Team members should read over the scripts and ‘act them out’ or role-play. This training process reinforces the messages and helps staff members see the practice through the eyes of patients. Role-playing can take place at morning meetings and can be a fun and informative activity for the whole team.

5. Positive communication. People are attracted to positive people. Not only will the dental team with a positive outlook have a better impact on the patients, but they will also perceive the dental team as more effective and customer-focused. When you use verbal skills to present yourself in an upbeat way, patients respond better. All of a sudden, dentists, staff and patients find themselves more motivated and more positive. What you have begun is a cycle of positive communication.

6. Practice. The key to scripting, like many other activities, is practice. Scripting needs to become ingrained and second nature so that team members will use proper words and statements delivered in a natural, positive and energetic manner. The right communication can lead to reduced stress, increased case acceptance and greater profitability.

Conclusion

Team members flourish in a thriving practice. Scripting every patient interaction, including case presentation, contributes towards making team members more effective in their jobs. When your staff sees case acceptance increasing due to scripting, they become even more committed to the practice’s success. A highly motivated team invariably leads to a highly productive practice.

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