The Bottom Liine Ep. 10

How to handle the pricing question on new patient phone calls, with Dylan Kemna of Opticall

Dylan Kemna joins us to discuss best practices for new patient phone calls, bringing over 15 years of experience managing healthcare call staff. Today, Dylan shares insights into his call structures that are proven to convert more leads into booked appointments. We learn about building rapport, when to collect patient info, and how to think beyond simply answering questions. We also take a deep dive into the most common question – “What does it cost?” 



Ken: All right. Welcome back to The Bottom Liine. Today we’re talking about call staff and phone call performance. And we have the expert, the master Dylan Kemna from Opticall. Do you wanna say hi real quick, Dylan?

Dylan: Yes, hello. Thanks for having me, guys. Appreciate it.

Ken: Awesome. Yeah, I’ll do a quick intro for Dylan and we’ll jump in. Dylan is VP of Sales and Marketing at Opticall, and he’s been there for 15 years now. And before joining Opticall, he worked with a Lasik marketing agency that used Opticall for their clients. Sounds like you’ve been doing this for quite a while, buddy. He has a passion for networking and helping people succeed.

Dylan started groups on LinkedIn for dental marketing, plastic surgery marketing, ophthalmology marketing, dermatology marketing, and audiology marketing. They have over 100,000 subscribers collectively. Yep, I see them all the time. So join those, too. They’re great resource for staying connected in the industry. Dylan is a graduate from THE Ohio State University. I like how you put that in all caps.

KenSomething that not everyone knows about Dylan is that he has actually visited all 50 states in over 20 countries. What’s your favorite country?

Dylan: USA

Ken: Haha.

Dylan: We seem to visit Australia quite a bit.

Ken: Oh, awesome. He also enjoys reading, sports, and music. Glad to have you here.

Charlie: Hey why didn’t we list the Fantasy Football League as part of the networking example.

Dylan: Because it’s an exclusive invite.

Charlie: You know, that’s a good point. Just everybody needs to know I made it on that list this year. So just saying.

Dylan: That doesn’t mean you’ll stay on the list. You gotta perform.

Charlie: Damn it. I know, I’m not acting. I’m not acting like I’m worthy right now. Okay. Ken are we rolling? Should I start, like, with questions? Good to go.

Ken: I think you should start with questions.

Charlie: So we’re. I’m excited about this, and we’re going to talk about staff performance and what I call the greatest mismatch in the history of business. What I mean is I’ve never seen any other industry where the businesses are spending the type of money they do in health care specialties on marketing to drive leads. And the leads are worth usually thousands of dollars just for the first series of treatment.

Right. There’s a lot of specialties where lifetime value is tens of thousands of dollars or more. And that was we’ll start just kind of focusing on a phone call. Let’s say they’re inbound phone calls ending up on the desk of someone who doesn’t even really think of their job as anything related to business. Right. We oftentimes ask staff like, hey, what’s your job in the practice, The ones that are handling these calls?

And they say, my job is to answer the phone. And if that’s their mindset, like, that can lead to a whole lot of different issues. So I guess first question is what what what have you seen Dylan as far as like the mindset of the typical staff member and why that causes problems in their ability to A) provide an amazing patient experience to B) really optimize converting leads to an appointment?

Like what’s the biggest issue?

Dylan: Well, that’s a great question, Charlie. There’s there’s a lot of issues usually where that often the people that are handling these calls they’re the first impression of the practice, but they’re often the people with the least amount of training. Sometimes they’ve been on the job for one week, they’re already fielding calls. Practice may not have a triage to be able to prioritize, prioritize new premium patient lead from just any call that could come through on the practice line.

And like you’re mentioning, sometimes the people that handle these calls may not have a real vested interest in the practice. They may just look at it as a job. So they’re they feel like they’re doing their job, that they’re answering somebody’s questions where there’s not a real foundation for engagement and maximizing these opportunities.

Charlie: Totally. Yeah. I was actually just at a conference this past weekend, an aesthetics one, and one of the things we were talking about going back to the mindset is if you ask your team that handles these calls what their job is, it shouldn’t be answer the phone, it should be help people schedule. I answer the phone to help people schedule.

And just thinking about the point of the conversation that way will change everything right? Because otherwise people will fall into the trap of I think what you were saying, which is just answering people’s questions and what are like the most common I mean, I think I know the answer to this, but what are the most common questions people are asking patient wise when it’s especially cash based stuff?

Dylan: The most common question is always around price, but I’m glad you asked that because I’d like to touch on that, that I consider the price question almost an artificial question that the reason people ask about price, isn’t it because they want the cheapest brain surgery, It’s because they don’t know how to distinguish one practice from the next so that price prices all they know to go off of.

So what we’re looking for and we do that on the assessments that we do for practices. We call our lead conversion assessment for Mystery Shop, where our goal is and to stump the counselors. We ask something around price. And what we find is most practices, if they’re able to answer the phone, will just try to answer the question and say, Is there anything else I can help you with?

Where we’ve developed the process at Opticall to be able to engage and maximize these opportunities. We’ve handled millions of calls since we started in 2002. We’ve developed the process that we call a logical progression, which is just a finesse of like introduction, exploration, education and closing that you can’t just like come out of the gates in information capture mode and start asking for a name, email, address, date of birth, Social Security number.

But you got to build some rapport where people might just be shopping around. So you want to create a great experience from that first point in contact. But then I don’t know that we’re going to go through a whole demo, but just in terms of how you engage them, there’s some finesse to how you do that.

Charlie: You just there is a lot there to talk about. The one thing I wanted to dive in to is when people hear. So the price question is by far the most common for sure. Right. And the reason people are asking for it, like what you said, artificial and what I take from that is it’s just people are rational consumers.

So if they don’t know anything else about whatever, they’re going to ask how much it is and just just think about the people listening. Think about yourself. If someone’s like, Hey, have you ever thought about getting LASIK just in a regular conversation, one of the first things you’re going to go is in your head is, I wonder how much that costs.

Not because you’re like, my God, if I was going to do that, I would get the cheapest one. It’s just a rational question to ask. So what I take away from that is most people, when they hear price question, they either go, God, we have to answer it, or they make an incorrect assumption and that person is a price shopper and that is 100% not true.

It just simply makes sense logically that people would ask about cost if they don’t know anything else about a procedure which most of the people calling in don’t know anything about the procedure. So they just that understanding that the pricing question itself isn’t bad is a huge thing for people to realize.

Ken: Real quick, we have some data on that actually because we track – we track the reason patients aren’t booking. And we found that less than 2%, less than 2% of the patients that don’t book was because of the price. objection. But I’ve heard, you know, providers say, why aren’t we booking? It must be because of price, because that’s what they ask all the time. But it’s not true.

Charlie: And also they’ll ask their staff about especially if it’s paid leads. Right. Because these are people that are finding on the air they’re going to ask about price. Right. So if you go ask yourself like, everybody’s just trying to find the cheapest one. They’re not good leads. And there’s this massive misconception there. So I’m interrupting. Go ahead.

Dylan: Well, I was going to touch on that, just that I think what people really want to know is did I call the right place? Am are getting a good value. And that has a lot to do with the experience that the practices are delivering. So it’s not just about answering that question. It’s it’s about how you engage them.

It’s it’s the greeting. Thank you for calling Name of the practice. This is Dylan speaking. How may I help you? It seems so basic, but practices miss that they might be some the worst ones. Just say doctor’s office. So you leave out their name. Some leave out the thank you. And it’s just good customer service and whatever it is they’re asking about, we always start out with, I can help you with that because we’re trying to create an experience.

We’ve talked about the smiles, we’ve got mirrors at our desks like they can hear the smile. Like as far as our our approach, ‚ÄúI can definitely help you with that. Is this your first time contacting us.‚Äù That can assist the stage that we’re going to ask some questions helps us identify if it’s somebody certainly contacted the practice that they might be in the system already, but also serves as a buffer to ask for the referral source.

And depending on the procedure they ask about, we have our own phone scripting program that we’ve developed and it’ll prompt different exploratory questions. So like if it was LASIK, our team knows to ask what type of trouble are you having with your vision is a distance or reading? Find out if they’re glasses or contacts. Find out if they’ve had any previous conditions, previous surgeries, things that are necessary to get to the next step.

But it I think it is impressive to the caller if other practices aren’t following this protocol where if it’s delivered properly, it just sounds like they know what they’re doing. And I think that exists. Confidence for the for the callers.

Charlie: One of the yeah I mean nobody does this so if you’re listening and you start implementing some of the things you’re hearing, like you’re immediately going to have an edge. I love the beginning of the conversation that you just had, which is I can help you with that or I’d be happy to help you that whatever you said.

And then is it your first time – you use the word buffer. And I think when people think about training their staff, they make it too complicated as far as like, what should we actually be saying on the phone? They also, by the way, go into asking for people’s information immediately, which I think is very invasive at first.

Right before you have any type of dialog, which is what you said. But I love the ‚ÄúI can help you with that‚Äù because what it means when you say buffer to me is let’s go to the pricing question. Someone says, I want to know how much you charge for LASIK. You certainly don’t want that person to feel like you’re avoiding the question.

And so I can help you with that. Is this your first time calling is a beautiful way to not start by answering the question which you don’t want to do, but have a conversation which you’re now in control of because you’re asking the questions and that saying I can help you with that at the very beginning is what allows you to accomplish what I’m saying without making the caller feel weird.

So A, you should do that if you’re listening. B How simple is that? Like, that is not complicated. And when you talk about training your staff, it’s this type of shit that we’re talking about Excuse my language. Can these little things done consistently will improve your conversion rate. So I love that approach.

Dylan: Absolutely. I left out one of the key steps. After you ask if it’s the first time, contacting you. Then it’s okay to ask for a name and a phone number in case you get disconnected. You can call them right back. It’s not too intrusive. Most people appreciate that because we’ve all been on those nightmare calls with maybe a cable provider where you’ve been on the phone for an hour, get disconnected, have to do it all over again.

Most people are pretty receptive to that. And that’s that’s all we want to ask upfront, just so at least have a way to call them back up. Most practices that we do our assessments on, they never get a name or number. I would say it’s like in the high nineties that don’t ask for that name and number. They only do that if somebody is actually moving forward in scheduling.

So it’s a good practice to get into.

Charlie: And I agree with that. And again, I love where you’re doing it because if someone let’s, let’s say someone called in and said, What do you charge for LASIK? And I said, Can I get your name and number in case we get disconnected, then it feels like I’m avoiding it versus, yeah, I’d be happy to help you.

Have you been here? Okay, cool. First time. Well, what’s your name, by the way? Let me get your number in case we get disconnected. That is totally different, and it’s way more likely you’re going to get it. And the caller feels good about that.

Dylan: You mentioned the pricing question itself, should we jump ahead and talk about when it’s appropriate to discuss price. Sure.

Charlie: Yeah, I think I like that we’re getting into like specific because this is the stuff that people have happening. They’re getting calls right now with pricing. So let’s dive into that.

Dylan: Yeah, we we typically well, I mentioned introduction, exploration, education, and closing. I like to do it during the education step. So that’s also the step where we paint the expectations of the initial step. So don’t just mention the consultation. You want to you want to let them know how long they’re going to be there. Is there a fee associated with that?

Who do they get to meet with? Any expectations you might want to have like a plastic surgery office might do before and after pictures? But usually during that education step, that’s also when we address pricing. And for Opticall we have it built into our frequently asked questions, which is something our counselors can jump ahead on if the caller insists.

So we do want to address the pricing question. I know this is this is always kind of like a point of contention for practices. Some practices feel strongly like they don’t want you to mention price, They don’t want those objections. Some require it, but I think it’s important that you have a script in place and you validate it.

Like like I said, I don’t think they want the cheapest. I think they just want to know. They call it the right place. So it might be something to the extent of our prices range from 1500 to 20 $500 per day based on the technology is best suited for you. That’s why we offer a free consultation and then we move on to the next step, as opposed to trying to belabor that if somebody does does give pushback on the price.

We also have validations built into this profile under the frequently asked questions. So validations are items that are distinctive and quantitative, not platitudes, not just like we’re number one in America, like September one. Man, number of procedures. They’ve done technology that they offer any kind of local awards, things like that are very important.

Charlie: Yeah, I always smile when you were saying like point of contention. I mean, here’s what here’s my opinion. If you’re if you’ve told your staff, like under no circumstances will you ever give anyone any information about pricing. You’re afraid you’re afraid that you’re going to have to talk about some information that, by the way, people it’s people are going to want to get some info or they’re going to feel like you’re hiding something.

So if someone as if some if someone continues to ask you about pricing, you should give them a range. Like, why the hell would you want someone who’s telling you that pricing is actually important for them to understand, to even probably know if that’s something that they can do? Why would you want to put that person on your schedule if they find out it’s like three times what they would be able to afford?

That person just didn’t come in right now. Right now, if you if that happens on the phone and then they have an objection, if you offer financing, that’s a good time to talk about it. But don’t run away from talking about pricing. Just don’t do it at the beginning of the call. And I love the process Dylan’s talking about of the education and exploration and so forth.

There’s a better part in the conversation to do it. You should do it if people are still asking about it. Otherwise they just feel like you’re not being helpful at all. Right. And scaring those people doesn’t make sense.

Dylan: Yeah, all good points and.

Charlie: Ken, what do you think?

Ken: I totally agree. I mean, what else is there to say?

Dylan: I was going to mention like somebody you have such a limited window to build trust usually within 30 seconds, whether they’re going to want to do business with you or not, a lot of that has to do with your demeanor and how you’re handling the phone call in general, your confidence level. So it’s important to have a roadmap in place that you know what you want to do with the phone call and address their questions and when it comes to practices that don’t want to answer this question, I feel like the owners of the practice are almost egocentric about their business, where they’re not really aware of what other practices they’re offering.

So if they spend some time calling the competition, they might find that they are sharing price and it comes with the trade off, say, with charging for consultations. I mean, that’s a whole nother subject, but can help reduce those shows. But it could have an adverse effect on overall conversions to some.

Charlie: Totally. And I think it can make sense in different specialties more so than others. You know, you know as well. Well, there’s the I love what we’ve talked about so far with like the main mistake and the wrong mentality that staff have in how to train around that. And that being more simple than most people think. What about like the people themselves, do you find do you think most staff would be able to do what we’re talking about if they had the proper coaching and training?

Or are there like any characteristics when practices are hiring staff for this role that you think are of particular importance?

Dylan: Yeah, that’s another good question. I think the thing that we look for the most is the customer service mindset that we can try to teach that, but that’s somewhat something you have or you don’t have that willingness to help. That goes a long way because we can teach our process and somebody with that mindset can gel with the process.

The other thing that’s important is a nice phone voice. So we typically have them submit some kind of phone recording just so we can hear what they sound like as opposed to just a resume.

Charlie: What do you think is.

Dylan: The biggest.

Charlie: You want to know about the pricing? Allow me to educate you for who it. I love that. So you guys actually get recordings in here and listen to people. That’s really cool. That’s a great idea and it’s not hard to do either. And for the for the average practice for that, they could just have that person just call in during business hours and there’s a 20% chance that they’re going to miss the call anyway.

So they’ll be able to leave a voicemail right? man. Okay, cool. Willingness to help and customer service mindset, which you can probably tell like pretty quickly in an interview if someone is like excited at all about helping people and probably, you know, great. Plus if they have any experience in their background. But there’s sort of a initial impression that you would get in the interview process if someone has that.

I think that’s easy to distinguish. And then if you’ve got a process which most people don’t, but if you do, of exactly what should they saying and what should they be focusing on, someone with that mentality should be able to be pretty successful, which I agree with.

Dylan: Cool.

Charlie: What what about the other thing I hear all the time is people are excited about call center or like specialized team set up so they’ll find they have issues or think they have issues with how they’re handling calls and and lead follow up. And look the people that are up front, they do have multiple jobs. So like I get the reason why people would say well we got the same person check in patients and checking them out, hailing existing patient calls, handling new doing insurance stuff.

There’s just a lot of stuff on their plate. So what if we built like a call center model and this team was only focused on, you know, the new patient leads? It’s sexy, right? So that makes a ton of sense. But have you have you seen that be successful for most practices that have tried to implement it?

Dylan: another good question. I’d say it varies on the practice in terms of what their infrastructure infrastructure is like and what their volume is like. The most important thing I would say is that they have a process to be able to deliver consistently where most practices don’t have the scalability of, of a center like Opticall where we have those scripting in place to deliver the same experience every time.

Charlie: Twice is what you do. Man. Yeah.

Dylan: There’s also a staff turnover. I mean, just all the the patterns that we went through through the pandemic with the Great Recession, the great regret, like all these people were leaving and then we saw a spike in volume that we’ve never seen before and then see go the other way where maybe they’ve kind of staffed up now they’re overstaffed where there’s there’s a lot of benefits outsourcing that in.

And for medical professionals, doctors that have gone to medical school, I’m not sure why you’d want to spend time and resources trying to manage that part of your business. If you’re aware of a solution out there that that could be a good fit for your practice.

Charlie: I agree. I have personally never seen it work unless there’s someone involved who’s done it before. Has have.

Dylan: Do.

Charlie: You have to have someone who knows what the hell they’re embarking on and if you don’t, it’s not going to work and it’s going to take a lot of time and be very painful. So you either need, you know, into obviously, you know, that people could could work with you guys right up there. Like we want to have the call center concept.

We don’t know we’re doing that’s the purpose of Opticall But if someone’s going to try to do it internally, you just have to have somebody legit who’s done it before because there’s so many things that you don’t know about that are absolutely critical. And you know, if you have some good people on your team, maybe it can work for a little while.

But long term, it’s never going to work because you’re going to deal with turnover. You’re not going to have systems that can withstand that. And as Dale mentioned, you won’t have consistency and then it becomes a worse situation than than you’re in now. So it’s just it again, it’s a sexy thing to think about. And I think I’ve seen people go, yeah, we’re just going to do this.

And they don’t they don’t understand what they’re embarking on and it becomes a mess.

Dylan: You’re the first person I’ve heard refer to call centers as sexy.

Charlie: So sexy.

Dylan: Advocate.

Charlie: That it’s very sexy.

Dylan: I did just think about something that we do license our software. So if a practice is going to do it on their own, they could follow the same process as Opticall So I might recommend that if that’s the direction that they’re going to.

Ken: Let me take up a softball for you real quick. What what makes a practice a good fit for a call center like Opticall When do they know we can’t we shouldn’t be doing this on our own. Is that every practice or is that a certain size? No.

Dylan: I mean, for me personally, when I engage with a practice, I look at two things specifically, which is overall volume and revenue per patient. I mean, there’s other variables. First, like do they have a problem, which is where you guys come in? I know you have great software that can identify the opportunities that kind of cues up Opticall that are they missing phone calls are they low in their conversions?

Are they getting calls outside of business hours that we could help out with? Those are usually the biggest identifiers that they need some help. And then as far as us going through the process for for our business to be a good fit has to be three things. It has to be a better customer experience, a good return on investment for the practice where it actually pays for itself and frees up time for the staff.

So it has to be win win across the board and not all practices meet that criteria. Like if they’re patient, revenue is in the hundreds. That might not be a good fit. Most of our clients usually have patients that are in the thousands and then volume is a factor as well. Because we’re not involved in the lead generation.

We’re involved in the conversion. Just the interesting stat we share in some of our presentations that 96% of marketing budgets are I misquoted that 94% of marketing budgets are spent on generating leads and less than 6% spent on converting leads.

Charlie: That’s a killer stat. That stat is insane. I I’m going to I’m going to I’ll credit you and find we’ll figure out where that came from. But that is the killer and that is it. So think about that for every for every $100 you spend on marketing the average practice, you’re spending six on making sure that those people book.

So either you’re assuming that 100% of the leads you’re going to get are booking, which you’re probably not. So what you’re doing is you’re just not realizing that you have a problem.

Dylan: Yeah, could be spinning your muscles just.

Ken: I love Dylan. This is awesome. I feel like we could talk probably three times longer, but let’s, let’s put a bow on it because we’re hitting our wall here. But why don’t we tell everyone at home where they can find Opticall

Dylan: Well, you can find us on the website. It’s Opticall dot com. So that’s like optical with an extra L opticall dot com. You can find me on LinkedIn if you want to connect on any of those groups that try to be pretty open networker and we do offer what we call a free lead conversion assessment that’s usually five recorded calls just to get a barometer of what the experience is like.

And we do the same with web forums just to see what the response time is like and the consistency. You know, if you’re already working with line, you probably already have those tools at your fingertips. We could actually connect in with your permission. We could review some of those calls together with him because our assessment can take 3 to 4 weeks where if you’re already online, you’ve got that information.

Charlie: So we don’t just help.

Dylan: But kind of share some pearls from our process, whether we’re the right fit or not. I’m always happy to walk somebody through a demo to get some takeaways from our experience and whether we’re the right fit now, maybe later. We’re always happy to plant those seeds and just create awareness within the industry.

Charlie: Love it can.

Ken: Absolutely.

Charlie: Great job, Ken.

Ken: Thanks to you again. We’ll see.

Dylan: It’s Charlie’s pleasure. Yeah, we’re.

Charlie: Going to do another one. There’s so much meat on the bone here. Good, good stuff today. I appreciate you joining us.

Dylan: Take care. Likewise.