Unscripted Telephone Skills

By Plan Forward October 17, 2023 4 min read

We know Katherine is 100% a champion of unscripted telephone skills and we’re thrilled she agreed to help our clients with difficult conversations and dealing with the phones.

LionSpeak’s CEO, Katherine Eitel Belt presents Unscripted Approach to Communication

LionSpeak is a distinguished communications coaching firm with a primary focus on the dentistry sector, although they have also expanded their reach to other industries. Their approach is categorized into three distinct communication lanes:

Patient-facing Communications – Tailored for direct interaction with patients.

Team-facing Communications – Concentrating on team culture and internal dialogues.

Audience-facing Communications – A program designed to train individuals to become effective speakers and trainers.

Across these three domains, Katherine has identified a consistent challenge: while scripted communications can offer uniformity in message delivery and brand representation, they often come at the expense of genuine connectivity and authenticity. The drawback of rigid scripting is that it can render interactions as rehearsed, lessening the genuine feeling and reducing presence in the moment.

Katherine’ss philosophy hinges on the idea of marrying consistency with authenticity. Instead of traditional scripts, they champion the use of a flexible framework that still maintains brand consistency. Within this structure, individuals are encouraged to be genuine, allowing their unique personalities to shine through.

For instance, while managing patient phone calls, Katherine teaches a four-step framework. The core principle is that while adhering to the framework’s main points, communicators are free to express themselves naturally. Whether one’s nature is humorous, kind, or direct, it’s about showcasing that genuine self, without sounding robotic or overly rehearsed.

LionSpeak emphasizes the importance of sounding genuine, especially when training leaders or speakers. They believe in nurturing the individual’s authentic voice while providing them with a framework to ensure the delivery is impactful.

The essence of LionSpeak’s approach is the embrace of an 4-part unscripted methodology. 

1. Relationship Building:

  • Establishing a connection with the patient is the first step.
  • Begin by getting their name to personalize the conversation.
  • There are two ways to connect: a. Personal Connection: Engage in small talk related to referrals, location, etc. b. Empathy: Show understanding and care, especially in urgent situations like a toothache.
  • Officially welcome the patient to the practice.

2. Discovery:

  • The most crucial and often overlooked step.
  • Control the direction of the conversation by asking questions. This allows the professional to lead and the patient to follow.
  • Discover the right appointment type for the patient based on their needs.
  • Ascertain what else they care about, such as cost, urgency, appearance, etc.

3. Solutions:

  • Provide potential appointment times based on the discovery phase.
  • Address additional concerns by presenting solutions. For instance, introduce financial solutions like membership plans if the patient is concerned about the cost.

4. Details:

  • Once the appointment is secured, gather other details like address, phone number, email, and insurance information.
  • These details are secondary and should be sought after establishing a connection and understanding the patient’s needs.
  • The idea is not to dominate the conversation but to guide the patient in the right direction.
  • It’s essential to be adaptable and adjust to each patient’s unique needs and history.
  • Avoid outright denials (“No, you can’t…”); instead, redirect the conversation in a helpful and informative way.

By following Katherine’s approach it not only ensures that the patient feels heard and valued, but it also helps the dental practice schedule the right kind of appointment and address any concerns or questions the patient might have.

Here are our key takeaways: 

Handling Price Queries and Insurance Questions in Dental Practices: 

  1. Initial Response to Price Queries:
    • Initially, the administrator would provide direct answers to the price-related questions.
    • This approach was not successful as most inquiries did not convert into actual appointments.
    • The doctor advised against quoting fees over the phone and emphasized the need for a physical exam to provide accurate pricing.
  2. Shift in Perspective:
    • The administrator realized that asking about the price doesn’t mean the patient is solely price-conscious or can’t afford the service. It’s a logical question. 
    • The way the price question is answered can heavily influence a person’s decision to schedule an appointment.
  3. Current Approach to Price Queries:
    • Build Rapport: Engage the caller with questions about their needs, symptoms, and concerns rather than answering the price question directly.
    • Reframe the Question: Dive deeper into the reason for the inquiry to understand the true need behind the price question.
    • Offer Value: Emphasize the expertise and comprehensive nature of the exam to justify the price.
    • Redirect to Booking: Without quoting the exact fee, suggest a suitable appointment slot.

Handling Persistent Inquiries:

  1. Some callers might persistently ask for the price. In such cases:
    • Reiterate the importance of a physical examination for an accurate quote.
    • Offer assurances about transparency and the lack of pressure to commit.
    • If pressed further, discuss with the practice manager or owner on whether to provide a price range or refrain from quoting fees.

Dealing with Insurance Questions:

  1. A common misconception is that dental services can’t be accessed without insurance.
  2. When asked if a certain insurance is accepted, it’s essential to:
    • Establish control over the conversation.
    • Offer alternatives like payment plans and membership plans that provide affordability.
    • Emphasize the value of services over the mere presence of insurance.

Conclusion:

  1. Building rapport and trust with potential patients is crucial.
  2. Addressing their true concerns rather than focusing solely on price or insurance can convert more inquiries into appointments.
  3. Training staff to handle these questions effectively is key to practice growth.

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