When OptiCall conducts phone assessments for prospective clients who want to understand how their practice is performing, we get to hear exactly how office staff across the nation are responding to interested patients. Sometimes the office staff does a really good job, and it shows with a full schedule of booked appointments.
But most often practices are making some major blunders when it comes to the phones, and they don’t even know it. Considering the high-cost of marketing to patients in call the practice, this is the critical part where a lot of those dollars end up going down the drain.
Here are 3 main mistakes we see practices making over the phone, and how you can do it better:
Mistake #1: Losing Sight of the Main Goal
Pop quiz: what do you think is the main objective of every prospective patient call?
A.) To get off the phone with them as quickly as possible. There is a lot of office work to do and patients to attend to in the office.
B.) To thoroughly answer every question they have.
C.) To schedule them to come in for a consultation.
…Brief pause while you think about it…
…Playing Jeopardy music…
Ok, if you answered A. – please stop what you’re doing, pick up the phone, and dial (877) 238-0555 because clearly you will benefit from our First Contact program.
If you answered B., you are almost right (in fact, we’ll give you partial credit).
But, the objective when answering a call from a prospective patient is to not to answer every single detailed question a prospective patient may have. Why? Because the main goal is actually answer C.: to get the patient to come in for a consultation.
There is a fine balance, an “art” if you will, in effectively answering calls. You want to provide enough information to patients to make them feel comfortable and to address their immediate needs, but not so much information they either get overloaded, or they feel they have heard everything they think they needed to hear, so they move on to calling the next practice.
Your practice should determine what information will be shared over the phone and what is needed to discuss during the consultation. Create an internal frequently asked questions list or script with detailed responses for your staff to follow. If a question is not on the list, the staff should respond by recommending the patient come in for a consultation.
Mistake #2: Not Having a Follow-Up Process
We find a lot of practices still not requesting contact information from phone leads. This type of information is like gold, because it enables the practice to stay in touch with leads who may be still researching or who just decide to move forward at another time.
But just as bad as not collecting it, is doing little or nothing with it. If your practice does not have a plan or process for re-marketing with valuable content that would interest the patient, then you are missing an incredible opportunity to maximize those marketing dollars.
Be sure your practice knows to try to gather as much patient information as possible on every call. Then have a follow-up plan in place that provides value, such as a special offer or a highly-informative brochure, to help your practice stand out.
Mistake #3: Not Reading Patient Emotions
There is a lot of information about someone’s emotions and personality you can gather by listening to their tone and the type of questions they ask. By identifying certain personas of patients based on this information, you can adjust your approach to accommodate exactly what they need.
She’s a little on the timid side. Her initial questions are about how safe a procedure might be, how experienced the doctor is, and what the recovery is like. For Nervous Nancy, it’s important your staff takes their time in answering questions and reassures her she is in great hands. At a point when she asks very detailed questions, a response like, “That’s a great question, and many of our patients initially share your concern. Dr. Smith thoroughly covers that and all your other questions when you come in for a free consultation.”
For a Nervous Nancy, focus on safety, understanding, and solid listening to ensure she feels cared about and comfortable in taking the next step.
Researching Rob may be just starting out in the research process and maybe doesn’t even know what to ask or may bring up information from other practices he has researched. For this type of patient, it’s important to ask them questions. What issues is he contending with? Why is he considering a procedure? Understanding more about what is important to someone like Rob, can help you know exactly the type of information to provide to engage his interest in learning more. Of course, when questions require more detailed answers, it’s always best to acknowledge his inquiry and point him to the specialist. “That is a tough question to answer without doing an evaluation, as it really varies by patient. I would be happy to book your free consultation with Dr. Jones so she can provide you with the right information.”
Get to the Point Pete
Pete is a real straight shooter. He’ll call and just want to know price, and no, he doesn’t want to know much else. For someone like Pete, it is important to try to ask a few questions, but acknowledge the sense of urgency and be succinct in responses. When Pete asks about price, a response such as “To help me get you accurate pricing quickly, I just need to know a couple details about your specific needs and the procedures you are interested in. Would you mind if I asked a few questions?” Acknowledging time as a concern with someone like Pete can make him feel understood. Avoiding a quick response can open the door to providing more accurate and complete information to the caller, collecting a lead for the practice, and perhaps even scheduling a consult.
Of course three stereotypes cannot possibly apply to everyone, but the point is to be able to provide the best customer service to the caller on the line. Actively listen to what they say and how they say it to provide the best response to meet their needs.
No practice is perfect. But using these simple tips and processes can help maximize every call to increase patient volume.
Want to see how your practice handles calls? Complete the form below to assess a free practice assessment.