23 Apr A Simple 5-Step Structure to Turn First-Time Callers Into New Patients
If you’re like most practices out there, you’re missing out on huge amounts of opportunity by not having structured phone management and conversion systems in place.
And until you figure out how to book an appointment with every caller, it doesn’t matter how much marketing you do — your practice just won't grow.
Think about it this way — wouldn’t you want to fix a leaky pipe before you turned the faucet on full blast?
Of course you would.
It’s the same thing with your phone systems.
Patients have never had more options or more control when it comes to choosing their provider than they do now.
When they call your practice, it’s like an interview.
And if you don’t bring your A game to the phone call, all they have to do is a quick Google search to find a provider who will. So how do you use the phone to turn your first-time callers into brand new patients?
All you need is the right structure.
Lead the Conversation
The first thing you need to remember on a call with a prospective patient?
People are most likely to follow a leader.
If you want to convert your phone calls, you need to structure them so you lead and your prospective patient follows — not the other way around.
If you let the patient lead the conversation, they’ll ask whatever question they called about (like “what times do you have available?”) and then hang up the phone.
But by taking the lead from the beginning, you establish that you’re the one in control — and you’re the one steering the conversation.
Remember — your prospective patient is calling because they’re struggling with some sort of health problem.
They want you to be the expert.
So show them that’s what you are by taking the lead the second you pick up the phone.
Developing rapport with prospective clients is obviously important.
And while I work with tons of practitioners who know how to develop rapport with their clients, it’s rarely done well by front-of-house teams.
So many phone calls seem to be based on getting very generic administrative questions answered — instead of developing rapport and, ultimately, getting a new booking.
“What’s the best number to reach you?”
“What kind of insurance do you have?”
“What times are you available during the week?”
This transactional approach feels cold and impersonal — and falls flat with prospective patients.
Developing rapport with a prospective patient transforms the call from a transaction to a conversation.
It involves establishing trust and getting to the root of why the patient is really calling.
And I’m not talking about price inquiries or scheduling questions.
You’ve got to go deeper than that.
I’m talking about the root of why they’re looking for a health professional.
When you can get to the source of their problem, you can develop a deeper level of rapport.
What are they struggling with?
And, more importantly, how can you help them?
Once you’ve figured out why a prospective client is calling, you need to show them you relate by practicing a little empathy.
Empathy acts as a bridge between you and your patients; it puts your patients at ease and creates a far superior bond than any other relational pattern.
Now, as a healthcare professional, it’s obvious you care about your patients.
But it’s important to make sure this empathy flows through your practice and comes across to prospective patients no matter who they talk to — whether it’s you or someone on your administrative staff.
When they’re on the phone, make sure your front desk staff takes the time to really relate and empathize with every prospective patient that calls.
When you take this approach, patients feel seen, heard, and understood.
They feel a connection.
And that connection is what will drive them into your practice.
When a prospective patient calls to inquire about you, your practice, and your team, their interest with engaging you is at its absolute peak.
And if you want to drive new patients into your practice, you need to take advantage of that.
The time to create a sense of urgency about booking with your practice is when you have them on the phone.
Let your prospective patient know the value you bring to the table, whether it's decades of experience treating their condition or the great results you’ve been able to get with other patients dealing with similar issues.
Let them know your practice has a tendency to fill up, and if they want to get an appointment, they need to make a move now.
The point is, you don’t want people to “think about it.” You don’t want them to “call back when they’re ready.” You don’t want them to “explore other options.”
You want them to make a decision while they’re on the phone. And it’s your job to create the urgency necessary to make that happen.
Lock It In
The last step to turning a first-time caller into a new patient?
Lock in the appointment.
At this point in the phone call, you’ve gone through the entire structure necessary to book your patient.
You’ve led the conversation, developed rapport, demonstrated empathy, and created a sense of urgency around your practice.
Now, all that’s left to do is book the appointment.
The biggest mistake people make at this stage of the game is letting the patient make the decision.
But here’s the thing — you’ve been leading the entire conversation. Why would you stop now?
Instead of waiting for the patient to ask to make an appointment, you need to make the first move.
You don’t have to be pushy or salesy or over the top. (You've already identified what they're struggling with and your know your practice can help them!)
But you do have to ask for the appointment.
Something as simple as “When can we get you booked in for your appointment?” can be effective.
With this simple structure, you have everything you need to turn your first-time callers into new patients. So what are you waiting for? Pick up that phone!
Is your team struggling to turn first-time callers into patients? Book in for a call to chat with the team further…