Purtzki, Johansen + Associates


Making the Phone a Practice Builder

Many dentists don’t realize how important it is to have the proper phone etiquette. It is hard to believe some offices still don’t staff phone lines during business hours, opting instead to shunt patients to voice mail. Others allow inexperienced staff members to answer the phone, which can make the wrong impression and lose potential business.

The first contact prospective patients have with your office sets the tone for their experience with your practice. Many forward-thinking businesses refer to the receptionist as “Director of First Impressions.”

The Madow Brothers, America’s best-known dental practice coaches, address this issue in their lectures. They recommend the A-L-A-S-K-A method of answering the phone.


A – Answer the phone promptly (2 rings) and correctly. Suggested greeting: “Thank you for calling Smile Dental. This is Anne speaking. I can help you.”

– Listen. Don’t rush the caller. Be patient and listen. Otherwise the callers will feel they have called a switchboard

A – Analyze the problem. Consider the call more of a consultation but ask only a few questions;

– Solve the problem. It’s not enough to simply answer the questions. Staff should be trained to probe far enough to determine the caller’s real need, and then make an appropriate recommendation.

–   Embrace kindness. “We are so glad you called.”

A – Action. The call should end by making an appointment.


You want the patient to feel good about the call and look forward to coming to the practice.

It would be interesting to track “lost opportunities” in the same way you track new patients. Keep a log of prospective patients who called the office and ended up making an appointment.


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