By Cyndi Miller, CEO of Miller Public Relations
Ever had a bad phone experience when calling a doctor’s office? Ever get caught in a phone tree you couldn’t get out of? Yeah, me too. Remember the frustration you felt?
As someone who works in the medical profession, it should be your constant goal to make sure no patient ever feels that way when dealing with your practice.
The most critical area of any medical practice today should be the phone center, the actual bank account for your practice. Do not underestimate the importance of this key area. Here are 13 ways you can make sure your practice has a Rock Star phone team:
- Have a Monday morning huddle and discuss goals for the week. This meeting should last no more than 15 minutes and should be very positive.
- All phones should be answered by the second ring if at all possible, so staff up accordingly. The majority of medical procedure calls usually take place the first part of the week. It is a good idea to have your full phone team in place Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
- Make sure you encourage all phones to be answered by highly energetic, enthusiastic HUMANS, not by an automated system! If automation is required for part of the call, make sure all elective choices (more cash-pay profitable services and procedures) are placed in first selection rotation.
- Maintain the right voice volume, mid-range tones and carefully enunciate your words. Be patient, as sometimes the elderly patients have difficulty hearing. Be more than willing to repeat yourself.
- Team members who smile and make the phone conversation pleasant for the caller are much more likely to recruit the patient into your practice. Have fun with your callers, make them glad they reached you!
- Quickly get the caller’s name, address, date of birth, email address and all contact numbers, including if the caller prefers to be texted when contacting them is necessary. Thank them for giving you all of their information. If it becomes difficult to obtain a caller’s email address, assure the patient we are not sharing this information outside of the practice. Also, let them know that oftentimes, emailing patients is the preferred method for doctors to communicate with their patients, especially after clinic hours.
- Be more of a proactive listener than a “Chatty Cathy” in order to determine why the patient is calling and, specifically, what they need and want from your practice. What obstacles you must overcome cannot be ascertained unless you listen well. Always ask intelligent and pertinent questions and patiently await the answers.
- When the patient gives you information about why he/she is calling, please jot down what we like to call shadow notes into the patient record in order to appropriately cue up the patient for the visit with the doctor(s). This will help all support team members who are serving the patient once they come into the practice. This expedites the process and eliminates the need for the patient to constantly have to repeat why they are coming into the practice in the first place. Great note taking is absolutely welcomed by the physicians who will see the patient.
- Stay highly focused on the patient you are speaking with and do not become distracted. Be respectful of the patient’s time and remember, every patient has a choice in providers today. We have a great chance to earn the care and business of this patient for a lifetime.
- Offer the patient the opportunity to come in for a consultation. Give them three choices. Get the elective procedure patient in if at all possible within three days. (Remember, strike while the iron is hot). If you make patients wait much longer, they will go to the competition; especially your LASIK and cosmetic patients.
- Have follow-up protocols in place for patients who decide to wait to schedule an appointment. Ask the patient how they wish to be contacted in the future. Send out procedural information via email following the call. Stay with your follow-up methods because these usually generate results and help to build your practice.
- Thank the caller always. Close by asking the patient the following; “Did I answer your questions and/or address your concerns today?” Remember, patients always have a choice regarding where they will spend their medical dollars. Give them the best reasons to spend them with your practice.
- Finally, remember, the phone center is the bank account of every medical practice. Be an advocate for every patient! Make a difference in the lives you touch every day!
If you are interested in creative, intelligent marketing designed to increase your practice revenue, we would be delighted to consult with you, design for you, create a campaign for you…however, we can help!
The Miller Public Relations Team