Launched in 2014, The Smilist is one of the fastest growing and most successful DSOs (Dental Support Organizations) in the New York City metro area. The company has 60 dental practices in New York state, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.
We spoke with co-founder and CEO Philip Toh to learn how TrueLark was helping The Smilist fulfill its mission of creating a strong consumer brand and delivering exceptional patient experiences and convenience at affordable prices. When we interviewed Mr. Toh, The Smilist had 37 locations using TrueLark and was in the process of implementing it at the remaining practices. In addition, they plan to include TrueLark in the standard software suite for each new practice they affiliate with.
The Smilist’s commitment to both efficiency and outstanding patient experiences required an advanced and well-integrated tech stack. The company needed a communications platform that could unify their call center, onsite front desk teams and SMS platforms. On top of that, it needed to integrate with their practice management systems.
“Any dental practice – or any small business – is going to struggle with missed calls. And you’ll always feel like it’s a missed opportunity,” said Mr. Toh. “This was the driver in reaching out to TrueLark to find out more about it.”
The Smilist Was Experiencing Explosive Growth
According to Mr. Toh, the traditional answer for accommodating growth in the dental industry is to hire more people to answer the phones. “But it doesn’t always work that way and we had some constraints,” he acknowledged.
Originally, The Smilist had routed all calls to the front desk teams at individual practices. “But there’s only so much room at the front desk and you eventually run out of room if you keep trying to hire more people.”
Consequently, the company started experimenting with a call center to help with call overflow. “Then COVID happened,” explained Mr. Toh, “and suddenly it became very difficult to hire for any position.”
The combination of rapid growth, increasingly complicated needs, and a vanishing labor pool forced the company to look for a new solution.
Mr. Toh contacted TrueLark after researching potential solutions on LinkedIn. After discussing The Smilist’s needs with the TrueLark team, he decided it was worthy of a pilot program. The TrueLark onboarding team worked with The Smilist to customize a communications workflow for a pilot. As outlined below, it consolidates conversations from The Smilist’s communication channels and helps them maintain their elevated standard of service:
- When a phone call comes into an individual practice, the front desk team has four rings to take the call
- If a staff member can’t answer the call, it’s routed to the TrueLark AI communication platform
- TrueLark resolves 69% of calls routed to it without requiring staff intervention
- If TrueLark can’t resolve the call, the call center team follows up
The Smilist kicked off the pilot in July 2021 with a handful of locations. “It quickly showed amazing results,” confirmed Mr. Toh. He had wondered if callers would want to interact with TrueLark but was pleased to discover there was a high rate of interaction.
The automation metrics were so impressive that Mr. Toh didn’t initially believe them. “Let’s just run it for a little bit longer, let’s see what happens,” he recalled saying. Nevertheless, the numbers proved to be correct and TrueLark demonstrated its value. At that point, The Smilist decided to add Truelark to each practice.
TrueLark Dental Practice Management Integrations
TrueLark dental practice management integrations are important for functionality and ease of implementation. “One thing that is unique about TrueLark is that they integrate with our practice management software [Dentrix], and it utilizes the NexHealth API, so that was good, too.”
During the pilot program, Mr. Toh reached out to Dentrix and NexHealth to ask about their experiences with TrueLark. “They had very positive things to say,” confirms Mr. Toh, “and that’s when we started rolling it out to more and more locations.”
Process Standardization is a Competitive Advantage
“Every DSO is a bit different. Some leave the practices on their own system and some do like we do – we convert everyone over into our system, which we find is easier to do. So when we partner with companies like TrueLark, we know the technology is the same.”
It had been standard procedure to migrate all new practices to Dentrix and NexHealth. Once that was done, they would add TrueLark. At the time of the interview, the company was working on an integration which would allow new practices to roll out a unified practice management tech suite with no delay in adding TrueLark.
TrueLark Captures 100% of Calls
Mr. Toh said when he discussed TrueLark with the call center and front desk teams, he emphasized the time savings. “I love to talk about the stats on how many conversations TrueLark is having and what the conversion rates are. ‘Look at all this extra work that’s been taken off your plate.’”
Mr. Toh didn’t get the responses he expected, however. “Instead of saying that TrueLark reduced their workload, each team said it was actually making more work for them.” This is because it allowed them to follow up on every call. Before TrueLark, if a call was missed, only 10% – 20% of callers left a voicemail. Therefore, the staff could only follow up on a small percentage of the total missed calls, and the majority were lost. With TrueLark, every call the staff isn’t able to answer is captured. Now, they have a way to follow up on 100% of the calls.
In other words, to say TrueLark “saves time” is a mischaracterization in Mr. Toh’s view. In practice, it helps their teams accomplish more with their time – which is the goal of any AI-led communications system. And the numbers back it up. The Smilist has increased both appointment bookings and new patient revenue since adding TrueLark.
TrueLark Makes Time for Outbound Lead Engage
As explained, TrueLark began significantly reducing the number of calls going to the call center. Because of this, they decided to have call center agents start doing outbound calls and texting for lead engagement. “Instead of being an inbound call center, it became an outbound call center,” explained Mr. Toh. They are now piloting Business Messenger at their contact center as they evaluate how best to incorporate it into their overall business model.
TrueLark Automation Provides Multiple Benefits
The company’s experience demonstrates the value of TrueLark’s powerful AI and the automation it brings to their patient service processes:
- The Smilist didn’t need to hire more call center agents to handle call overflow from the individual practices, increasing the ROI of their labor spend and reducing the burden on their talent acquisition team
- TrueLark automation started not only capturing 100% of the overflow calls, it provided a way for callers to resolve the call without a staff member needing to intervene
- TrueLark freed up time for call center staff to begin doing outbound lead engage, with the potential for additional bookings, improved patient retention and increased revenue
- With the TrueLark dashboard, The Smilist management can see all conversations and filter by practice, which provides real time oversight of every patient interaction and the call resolution rate throughout the organization
TrueLark is an Ideal Solution for a Forward-Thinking DSO
The Smilist leadership embraces tech-enabled innovation and has experimented with numerous platforms for various business functions. Mr. Toh pointed out that he appreciates that TrueLark can perform multiple functions without the company needing to “Install another app.”
“As an organization, we like to try out new technology. TrueLark has made it to the list. It’s squarely out of pilot, it’s demonstrated its value, and we will add each location as the time is right.”
Moreover, the TrueLark account management team works closely with The Smilist to solve problems and continually optimize the system as The Smilist continues to incorporate TrueLark into their processes. The DSO is also evaluating TrueLark’s new Business Messenger feature and exploring ways it could improve how the call center team interacts with patients.
We appreciate the opportunity to support The Smilist as they continue to build one of the most successful DSOs in the dental industry.
To learn more about what TrueLark can do for your dental organization, we invite you to book a demo today.
TrueLark Solution Highlights
- Allows patients to interact with The Smilist at their convenience which improves the patient experience
- Integrates with Dentrix (and other practice management platforms)
- Consolidates communications from the call center, webchats, front desk teams and SMS platforms
- TrueLark books 1,000+ appointments per month
- TrueLark handles 12,000+ conversations per month
- TrueLark automation decreased contact center call volume which made it possible for call center reps to do outbound lead engagement