Every relationship starts with that first phone call, that first meeting between your practice and your potential patient. First impressions can help make or break your healthcare marketing strategy. This is common knowledge, yet many practices find that business is slipping through their fingers every time the phone rings. If your practice is finding itself in this situation, it may be time to reassess the way telephone inquiries are handled. If you want to ensure that each call your practice receives becomes a marketing success, here are some things to keep in mind.
Does your front desk staff realize how important new business is to your practice? Do they realize that they are more than just greeters or schedulers? They are business people, too. It is important to have them properly trained to handle more than just the most common telephone scenarios. In a perfect world, every patient who calls your practice would be ready and willing to make an appointment, but this is not always the case. Some new patients call with simple questions that may seem to warrant one-word or single-sentence answers: “Is your office open on Fridays?” “Do you take such-and-such insurance?” “Do you offer flu vaccines?” These calls have just as much value and just as much marketing opportunity. Don’t let them slip away.
Patient satisfaction and business generation requires more than just a “nice person” at the front desk. Your greeters need to understand how to treat every patient inquiry. They need to know how to navigate a conversation in order to generate business. If they are not sales trained, you could consider practicing telephone scenarios with them until they feel more comfortable. However, front desk staff should first and foremost build rapport. They should offer the patient a personal experience. Conversations should make the patient feel like he or she is unique and valuable to the practice. In short, your front desk team should feel like “real people,” not machines reading from a script or businessmen trying to push a product. They should stand out from the rest.
Every patient who calls your practice, whether it is to make an appointment or ask a question, analyzes your practice and judges whether or not to remain on the telephone or move on to the next listing. The way a patient is treated on the phone is a reflection of how they will be treated in the office. Even the patients who decide to make an appointment before they pick up the phone can have their minds easily changed if they have a negative telephone experience.
Your practice may be generating the leads, but they mean nothing if not greeted and handled properly. Once that call is disconnected, are you confident that you’ve made the sale? Is your practice converting every lead into business? Having a better understanding on how patient’s are received and processed by your staff will help you make any necessary changes to improve their quality of care. This is what will transform telephone inquiries into lasting patient relationships.