Don’t’ Let Your Office Phone System Hold You Back!

 My partner, Lynette, has taught phone skills in dental offices across the North America for over 10 years and has seen it all. The hardest fact she must convince the dentist of, is that the phone is the most valuable piece of equipment for bringing in new patients. It is hard for the dentist to hear that all the modern equipment and beautiful facilities that come at very high prices, are meaningless to a new patient who have never seen them.

 Almost all new patients who are referred by a friend or attracted by media ads (billboard, mailer campaigns, broadcast commercials, webpages, email or interactive locator sites) will call the practice before coming into the office. So, Lynette is absolutely accurate when she tells doctors that a typical office phone IS the most important piece of equipment in their practice.

 Are you still using an analogue phone system? While great in their day, these systems cannot compare in cost or sound quality to VOIP (voice over internet protocol) digital system.

 A doctor told me the Merlin™ system her father bought in the 1980s was great! I asked her why and she said because they never had to program it and it always worked. Also their long distance bill was very reasonable, and they had the same phone number that she did not want to lose if they upgraded.

 Okay, at least she did have a digital phone system, as Merlin™ was the first to introduce a digital phone to small business. It was state-of-the-art in the mid-80s, but relied on old phone-to-phone wiring, and still used an analogue intercom. It came with 5-line conferencing, custom ring patterns, auto select lines, intercom dialing and last number redial, and a precious few other features. It truly was cutting edge in its day, but it was pricey and not easily updated. It was not easy to program and usually required an AT&T tech to come to reprogram it for updates. Unfortunately, they had never updated their phone plan, so she was still paying a separate long distance plan. Still, it was solid and digital, and opened the door to the new era of VOIP phones. Also, never let a phone carrier tell you can’t move a number to your new phone system. By law, the vast majority of phone numbers are owned by the customer and can be moved to your new provider.

 Many dental offices still operate with inherited business phone systems and some even still have analogue systems, believing that digital phones are less reliable and have inconsistent sound quality. That may have been true of the first generation Skype™, but no longer. Despite what many believe, old analogue and early digital systems do not approach the high sound quality of VOIP phones, so much so that today, NO major American phone service provider even offers new analogue systems.

 Each VOIP phone is a small computer and runs off the same cable that runs your computer. It looks just like any traditional desk phone, but is much more on the inside. It has more features than most Fortune 500 companies need and incredible digital sound. Best of all, they integrate directly into your customer relations management program (CRM) and into some practice management programs. Your ability to bring in more new patients will immediately improve.

 The VOIP business System that we recommend is FluentStream (FS) out of Denver, Colorado. We have recommended this service because of the value they represent to small and medium businesses. They provide preprogrammed digital phones (from the best phone manufacturers on the market), they provide customer support on a 24-hour schedule, and they are very reasonable in their pricing, usually less that 50% of the price of a traditional carrier. We like FS because they integrate with other services so well. Our clients who use FS integrate seamlessly into our contact center. They can auto-roll or manually roll into our system for Concierge Contact Center after-hours call/chat service and 24-hour scheduling with the same high resolution sound quality.

John Ross