Consumer demand for an exceptional customer experience is growing. Elective medical practices who simply “answer the phones” are missing critical opportunities to engage with prospective patients and guide them toward taking that next step of booking a consultation. Our partners at OptiCall, a leading provider of phone services that convert more calls to booked appointments, have identified 6 of the most common mistakes practices make when handling the phones. Is your practice guilty of these?
- Improper Greeting
Every call should be answered with a friendly greeting that such as, “Good morning, thank you for calling ABC Ophthalmology. This is Kimberly. How can I help you today?” However, just as important as what you say, is how you say it. Patients are sensitive to tone, energy and cadence. A friendly and upbeat attitude communicates a warm and caring environment. It’s a good idea for the client services team to practice smiling while on the phones. Even though a patient can’t see it, it can help the tone to sound warm and positive.
- Not Obtaining the Caller’s Contact Information and Details
Always try to ask the following 4 questions to get the patient’s contact information and key details:
- Phone Number
- Patient Type: “Are you a new patient?”
- Referral Source: “How did you hear about us?”
It is important to collect this information and record it in a database or customer management system for future follow-up. It will also provide important metrics to determine call performance and effectiveness of marketing efforts.
- Not Listening First
Staff should listen for a customer’s spoken and unspoken needs. What is their tone? What are they most concerned about? Before “telling,” ask exploratory questions to gather as much information about the patient as possible. Great examples of exploratory questions would be:
- “What motivated you to call us today?”
- “Can you tell me about the problems you are having?”
- “What are your goals in having this procedure?”
These questions help prompt the right information to be provided at the right time. It also creates engagement with the caller and helps them to feel like your practice cares about understanding what is important to them.
- Not Selling the Consultation
The point of the phone call shouldn’t necessarily be to provide all the information up front. Rather, the goal is to get the patient to take that next step of booking a consultation. Yet many practices don’t ever mention the consult.
Sell the consultation by providing step by step details on who the prospective patient will meet with, how long the appointment will be and how they can prepare. Follow up by asking for the appointment. Here is a great example:
“Your first step is to come into our office for a free consultation, where we will do a full exam to see if you are a good candidate. You can expect to be with us for about an hour. While you’re here, you’ll get a chance to meet with our refractive coordinator, our LASIK technician and our surgeons who can answer all of your questions. To help us get the best results, we’d like you to not wear your contact lenses a day before the exam. So, would you prefer the morning or afternoon for your consultation?”
- Not Following Up
A prospective patient may not be ready to book an appointment during the first phone call, but they may be ready in the near future. Always have a brochure, special offer or coupon that you can send them. This not only serves as another touch point, but also gives a reason to collect their email and/or physical address for further future follow up.
Avoiding these mistakes and implementing effective sales techniques will empower your staff to go from “simply answering the phones” to building a long-term relationship with your prospective patients.
Want specific insights on how your practice can convert more calls to patients? OptiCall offers free phone assessments to provide you with insights on how your practice performs on the phones. Click here to request a free assessment.
Want to hear how OptiCall converts more calls to patients? You can listen to actual recorded calls by patient counselors. Click here to request sample calls.
Medical phone services is one of the many practice management options available in the healthcare Management Services Organization (MSO) at Advantage Healthcare Consulting, a division of Advantage Administration. By joining our MSO, you can take advantage of our large group volume pricing with suppliers such as OptiCall to receive the very best pricing. The ultimate goal of our MSO is to give you access to products and services that can improve your practice’s efficiencies, customer support and, ultimately, your revenue.
To learn more about your options to help manage and grow your ophthalmology practice, contact Advantage Healthcare Consulting, a division of Advantage Administration, today.