Is Your Dental Practice Guilty Of “The Switch”?

Last Friday I had a phone call scheduled with a dental Practice Manager to discuss some issues they were having at their practice, and whether or not I would be able to assist them.

This call was scheduled by the Practice Manager after I had exchanged a couple of emails with her.

Here’s what happened:

At the agreed time, I phoned the dental practice.

When the phone was answered by the dental practice receptionist, I told her my name, and explained that I had a call booked at this time with the Practice Manager [who I named].

The receptionist responded gruffly:

“Where are you from?”


“What are you calling about?”

And of course, she said:

“What was your name again?”

The switch had been made….

As soon as the dental receptionist came to the realisation that the purpose of my call WAS NOT to make a dental appointment, she switched her demeanour immediately.

My call was placed on hold.

When the receptionist resumed my call, she explained that the Practice Manager was “busy” and would return my call at a later point in time.

The Dental Receptionist took my number.

And the call ended.

Why is the switch bad?

The switch is not a good move.

The reason is simply this:

Just because the caller has not phoned for a dental appointment this time, doesn’t mean that they will never ever need a dental appointment or want to refer someone to that dental practice for treatment.

The execution of a switch is a very short-sighted behaviour

This is because you don’t know what will ever unfold from the act of just being pleasant and helpful on the phone.

Or for that matter, the act of just being helpful and pleasant to people who might visit your dental practice, or who you might come in contact with in your day to day travels while at work.

Years ago, we had a postman named Jim, who used to hand deliver our mail into our dental practice each and every day.

Jim used to carry the mail in a satchel over his shoulder, but what was remarkable about Jim was that he offered to and indeed did take our outbound mail back to the post office with him.

This was an amazing offer because I know that if that was my job, I’d be looking forward to my satchel getting lighter as I worked each day toward the completion of my postal round.

Now, I figured that my dental practice was not the only dental practice that Jim visited each day. After all, there was a dentist in the suite next door to my practice inside our building, as well as a dentist in the building two doors up the road and another dentist two doors down the road as well.

So I was pleasantly surprised [and honoured] when Jim chose to become my dental patient and completed a course of dental treatment with us.

Because he could have chosen to go to a number of other dental practices instead.

[And, just as an aside, not only did Jim become my patient, he was also a very good referrer of patients to my dental practice.]

The lesson is this:

If any of my dental team had performed THE SWITCH on Jim, and treated him as “just the postman”, then we’d have never had the opportunity of becoming his dentist and treating him, along with those patients that he referred to our practice.

Yet so many times, especially with phone calls to practices, I hear dental receptionists switch their persona to “prison officer” or “gatekeeper” mode, often for no other reason than JUST BECAUSE THEY CAN.

And I know, there will always be hawkers and canvassers who phone dental practices, trying to sell their wares to the dentist.

But just because they do, doesn’t mean that it’s OPEN SEASON for being rude to all of these people.


So, what did I learn from my phone call to this practice?

I learned that in the first instance, the practice needs to ELIMINATE THE SWITCH from their dental receptionist.

And if that doesn’t work, then they need to re-deploy their receptionist.

Secondly, this dental practice needs to review it’s on-hold message recording… too many big words, too many dental words, and too much me-me-itis…. And not enough points of difference…


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Have you read my book , How To Build The Dental Practice of Your Dreams [Without Killing Yourself!] In Less Than Sixty Days.

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The Ultimate Patient Experience is a simple to build complete Customer Service system in itself that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb. If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

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