How to Convert More Dental Appointments with Follow-Up Communication

Converting patient inquiries into scheduled appointments is mission-critical for dental practices. While it starts with effective dental marketing, the follow-up process is just as important. Patients who call but don’t schedule immediately, submit appointment inquiries online, or leave voicemails without responding to call-backs represent a huge opportunity to grow your practice — but you have to put the right systems and processes in place. Here are five effective strategies to ensure these potential patients don’t slip through the cracks:

1. Persistent Follow-Up Phone Calls

Persistent follow-up phone calls are one of the most effective ways to convert new patient appointments. Many practices make the mistake of calling only once or twice. However, studies show that it often takes multiple attempts to reach someone. Implement a system where follow-up calls are made at least three times over the course of five days. 

Here’s a simple protocol to follow:

  • Day 1: Call the patient within 15 minutes of receiving their inquiry (ideally, immediately). If you received a call overnight, return the call first thing in the morning. If there’s no answer, leave a friendly voicemail (see voicemail tips in #5 below).
  • Day 2: If you haven’t connected with the patient, call again around the same time as the first call. People are more likely to answer a call at the same time they initially reached out.
  • Day 3: If you still haven’t connected, make a final attempt. To increase the chances of catching the patient at a convenient time, this call can be scheduled at a different time of day, perhaps early or later in the day.

2. Utilize Text Messaging Platforms

In today’s fast-paced world, many people prefer text messages over phone calls. And better yet, text messages have an average read rate of 97% within 15 minutes. Platforms like Weave can help you manage and automate text messaging to improve your appointment conversion rates. 

Here’s how you can leverage such a tool:

  • Automated Text Response: When a call is missed or a voicemail is not left, an automated text message can be sent immediately. This message can acknowledge their attempt to reach out and provide a convenient way for them to respond.
    • Example: “Hi [Patient Name], this is [Staff Name] at [Practice Name]. We noticed you tried to reach us. How can we help you today? Please call us back at [Phone Number] or reply to this message to schedule your appointment.”
  • Follow-Up Texts: If there’s no response to the initial text, schedule follow-up messages over the next few days. These messages can gently remind them of their inquiry and the availability of appointments.
    • Example: “Hi [Patient Name], just a friendly reminder that we’re here to help you with your dental needs. Please reply to this message or call us at [Phone Number] to schedule your appointment.”

An automated text messaging system can ensure that no potential patient inquiry goes unanswered, increasing the chances of converting inquiries into scheduled appointments.

3. Email Follow-Ups

Sending a follow-up email can also be helpful for patients who provide an email address via an online form. The email should be personalized and professional and provide clear instructions on how to schedule an appointment.

  • Timely Responses: In addition to the phone call and text message outline above, send a follow-up email within 24 hours of the initial inquiry. This email should thank them for their interest, address any specific concerns they mentioned, and offer available appointment slots.
    • Example: “Dear [Patient Name], thank you for reaching out to [Your Practice Name]. We understand you are interested in scheduling an appointment. Please let us know your availability, or you can directly schedule online through this link: [Scheduling Link].”
  • Reminder Emails: If there’s no response to the first email, send a polite reminder after a couple of days. These reminders can reiterate the importance of maintaining dental health and how easy it is to schedule an appointment with your practice.
    • Example: “Hi [Patient Name], just a friendly follow-up regarding your inquiry. We still have some appointment slots available. Please let us know if there’s a convenient time for you, or book directly here: [Scheduling Link].”

NOTE: If you don’t offer self-scheduling, no problem! Just encourage the potential patient to call your office directly by including a “click-to-call” link in the email.

4. Implement a “Speed to Lead” System

A “speed to lead” system ensures that your practice immediately responds to potential patients who fill out appointment inquiry forms on your website. At DentalScapes, we’ve developed an automated system called SmileDial that places a call to the front desk as soon as a potential patient submits an online form. Here’s how it works:

  • Instant Notification: When an inquiry form is submitted on your website, an automated call is placed to the front desk. The automated call shares the potential patient’s name and asks your front desk to press any key to be connected.
  • Immediate Outbound Call: With the touch of a button, the front desk staff can initiate an outbound call to the potential patient. This immediate response can significantly increase the chances of converting the lead into a scheduled appointment, as it shows promptness and professionalism.

By reaching out to the potential patient right away, you reduce the likelihood of them considering other practices and emphasize your commitment to their dental care needs.

5. Personalized Outreach

Personalizing your follow-up communications can significantly increase your conversion rates. Addressing potential patients by name and referencing their specific inquiries or concerns makes them feel valued and understood.

  • Personalized Voicemails: When leaving a voicemail, mention their name and a detail about their inquiry.
    • Example: “Hi [Patient Name], this is [Staff Name] from [Practice Name]. I’m following up on your interest in scheduling a dental check-up. We have openings next week and would love to assist you. Please call us back at [Phone Number].”

By combining these strategies, dental practices can significantly improve their conversion rates and ensure that potential patients turn into scheduled appointments. Persistence, personalization, and leveraging both manual and automated outreach methods are key to successful follow-up communications for dental practices.

Implementing these strategies not only helps in filling up your appointment book but also demonstrates your commitment to patient care and convenience, setting the stage for a positive patient experience from the very first interaction.

Ready to take your dental marketing to the next level?

At DentalScapes, we help general dentists, pediatric dentists, and orthodontists get more patients with online marketing. To learn more about how we might be able to help, schedule a free strategy call and let’s talk!