Handling Patient Objections

Years ago I did an article concerning treatment presentation. Poor or weak treatment presentation is still the most common difficulty among our clients. Even with a good presentation, you must be able to deal with the objections raised by the patient in order to get them to go ahead with the optimum care for them.

The following are a few of the most-often-heard objections and some of the ways to deal with them.

  1. Have to think about it.
  2. Is it covered by my insurance?
  3. Don’t have the time – too busy.
  4. Fear of the procedure – this is not often vocalized but is often a consideration which stops the patient from proceeding.
  5. Can’t afford the treatment – don’t have the money.
  6. Not covered by my insurance.
  7. Have to talk to my spouse.

“I have to think about it” provides you with nothing to deal with and is NOT a legitimate objection. You must politely ask the patient if you have failed to make everything clear. If there is something additional that he wants to know, fill in the blanks. If not and the patient states that everything was clear, ask what he needs to think about. His response will most often provide you with the real objection.

“Is it covered by my insurance?” is a legitimate question to ask and will often block a patient from proceeding with treatment unless the question is answered. The best approach in such a case is to do a light presentation and get their agreement to send the predetermination forms off and spend as little time as possible explaining the procedure. Obviously, the patient must know what he needs, but this can be done in fairly short order.

Then, before the patient leaves the practice, schedule an appointment for a free consultation (one unit should be enough). The appointment should be four to six weeks in the future, i.e. after the predetermination has been received back from the insurance company.

When the patient arrives for his consultation, then the denturist will know how much it will cost the patient as the insurance information will now be complete. Any remaining cost considerations would then be handled in the same way as outlined in the later section: “Can’t afford the treatment – don’t have the money.”

“Don’t have the time – too busy” may delay the patient getting treatment but should not prevent it. One of the keys to dealing with this objection is to first realize that the patient has made time to have whatever work you are doing done and so can do it again if he thinks it is necessary. Offer the patient an appointment time which is the same as the one he is there for now, or determine the least inconvenient time for him. You can also explain that an emergency never happens at a convenient time. If the denture breaks, it will be at a very inconvenient time and this is something he wants to avoid?

In some instances there is no convenient time as the patient is in busy season. This being the case, you should schedule an appointment for when the busy season is over. Be sure to explain that this is not optimum and hopefully the denture will last until then.

Fear of the procedure – this is not often vocalized but often a consideration of the patient’s which stops him from proceeding. This should be handled when outlining what the procedure involves. Do everything possible to make the patient as comfortable as possible with the treatment that is being proposed.

Can’t afford the treatment – don’t have the money is probably the most common objection. It will often be necessary to establish what is acceptable to you as the practice owner in terms of practice policy on payment plans. In dealing with this objection, you want to start with the optimum approach for you, i.e. prepaid in full when the appointment is made and then offer other options as the patient rejects each. Be sure that the patient rejects one option before proposing another. This is not a place to give multiple choices at the same time. The financing options are as follows:

  1. Prepaid in full when the appointment is made.
  2. Half of the cost at the first appointment and half upon completion.
  3. MasterCard and VISA can be used and then the patient can pay it off however they wish.
  4. The lab fee paid for on the first visit and then post-dated cheques over the next month or so but the terms should not exceed 60 days beyond the date of insertion, and terms should only be given if the patient has a good credit rating with the practice. Check the patient’s records to determine how much of a risk you are willing to take. Several bounced cheques, even though they have been subsequently collected, should tell you that the risk is too great.
  5. If the patient is still balking at proceeding, then find out how much they can afford to pay each month. VISA and MasterCard monthly payments are quite low for a set of dentures.

If you do not get the real objection from the patient, then assuming money is the problem is a reasonably safe approach.

Not covered by my insurance – if they need a new denture, they need a new denture. The insurance company will not feel and pain or discomfort either way, but the patient will.

Have to talk to my spouse. Politely inquire as to whether they usually talk to their spouse about such matters. If yes, then determine whether they can reach them now – offer the phone, if appropriate. Another alternative is to have the spouse come in for a consultation or to call at a convenient time and talk to the spouse.

Legitimate objection

The difference between the legitimate objection and someone who is simply afraid is that the patient sticks to that one objection, i.e. “I can’t do it now because I have an office trip to New York starting and I don’t get back for three weeks.” The frightened patient keeps coming up with a new objection.

The solution is to listen for the close, get them to talk about the problem and listen and see what they come up with to solve it.

Need more help?

If you have other objections which you run into, send me an e-mail and I will let you know we deal with it.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to The Art Of Management Inc. and a clickable link back to this page.

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