Ignorance is not always bliss.
Practice managers are faced with the challenge of running day-to-day operations while also growing the practice bottom line. It’s a big job.
With so much on their plate, fixing immediate, short-term issues becomes the focus. Implementing processes and tracking key metrics gets put on the back burner for tomorrow, next week or even next year.
Without tracking business performance, particularly when it comes to the phones, practices have no idea how to improve. While the practice may continue to function from day-to-day, they do so blindly – unaware of where they may be under performing and losing business.
If you “don’t know what you don’t know” you aren’t alone, but it is important to take action. We reveal the key phone metrics you should be measuring to better manage your business:
1. Call Volume & Type
Some practices need to start from the simple question – how many calls are we getting a month? Is it increasing or decreasing? More importantly, how many new patients are calling?
Your practice should be categorizing every call as a new lead, existing patient, or other business inquiry and tracking these details over time. This should be relatively easy to keep track of, but your efforts shouldn’t stop here.
2. Caller Information
We find a lot of practices still not requesting contact information from phone leads. Big mistake. OptiCall phone counselors capture at least 3 critical pieces of information:
- Caller name
- Phone number
- How they heard about the practice
- And once rapport is built, email address
Why these 4? They’re gold. They are the most important pieces of information and the easiest to capture in a short amount of time. Knowing the patient’s contact information allows for personalized follow up if the patient is not ready to book on the phone. Understanding how they heard about the practice tells us what marketing efforts have been performing the best.
How the call ended is also important to note. We call this a Disposition, and we have a number of set categories including if the end result was the patient booking a consult, still researching, needing future follow-up, etc. Setting up Dispositions within your phone plan is key to understanding success.
3. Missed Calls
The average practice misses 34% of calls. Additional data shows a measly 15% of prospective patients actually leave a voicemail if unable to reach someone at the time of their call.
Practice managers cannot ignore calls that go unanswered. The first step in making sure this doesn’t happen is understanding how often it actually does. It may make sense to restructure roles and responsibilities, hire more staff, or offload phone handling to ensure you never miss a lead.
4. Calls Put on Hold
A practice that’s in the habit of putting calls on hold is immediately losing about one-third of their leads. There is a growing lack of patience among consumers, and it is critical for practices to get the number of callers who have to wait on the line down to zero.
To achieve that goal, make sure you have a tracking system in place that indicates how often your staff is forced to put a call on hold and for how long.
One of the most important metrics for measuring practice performance is determining how many phone leads “convert” into booked consultations. This one benchmark can reveal a lot about the health of your practice. For example:
- Low Call Volume, High Conversions: This typically indicates a marketing issue. Evaluate your website and digital marketing efforts. Consider boosting advertising spend or testing a new campaign or promotion, or a different marketing channel to drive more awareness.
- High Call Volume, Low Conversions: This likely indicates solid marketing, but call performance is not up to par. Evaluate training to ensure staff is aware of technical capabilities, how the practice differentiates from competitors, and is well versed in answering frequently asked questions. It is also important to understand call data such as hold times and missed calls.
At a minimum, practice managers should have a grasp of conversions and should be able to compare months over time to understand growth trends.
6. Training & Performance
Regular staff training can often fall to the bottom of the priority list for a variety of reasons: it takes a lot of time, there are no formal programs or processes put in place, and many managers struggle to provide constructive feedback often enough, if at all.
A practice that is not trained well may still function day-to-day. But it doesn’t take much for the wheels to eventually fall off (and they will), where suddenly your office staff is overwhelmed.
Every employee should be knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the practice. They should feel completely comfortable handling their roles while simultaneously interacting with patients. Implementing regular training programs and frequent performance evaluations that provide constructive feedback takes time and effort, but it is more than worth it.
We mentioned earlier that many practices fail to capture caller information. 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 continuously nurturing new leads, then you are missing an incredible opportunity to maximize all those dollars spent acquiring the lead in the first place. A follow up on a potential patient could be as simple as emailing a practice overview following their first call, then making a plan to check in with them in a couple weeks.
It’s not just the newbies that don’t get enough love. Practices also struggle following up with thousands of existing patients who are overdue for appointments. Retaining clients is easier, less expensive and yields a far greater return than acquiring new ones. Don’t forget about them.
The importance of tracking ongoing communication with new and existing patients cannot be underestimated. Develop systems that capture key data to ensure you are maximizing follow-up.
Creating an Action Plan
This is quite the list to keep in mind, but when you know how vital each of these metrics is to your practice performance, you won’t want to turn a blind eye.
Start out by assessing the data you have been collecting, while also gathering information in areas you may not know anything about. A customer relationship management (CRM) system is one of the best tools. Most practices have them, but are not using them to their full potential.
From there, identify under-performing areas and prioritize those that are most critical to your business. OptiCall’s free phone assessments provide a comprehensive and objective analysis of where your staff is performing well, and where improvement is needed. It’s also one of the best ways to provide unbiased feedback to your staff in a way that directly impacts practice goals. Click here to request a phone assessment
Finally, it may make sense to streamline business operations. OptiCall’s First Contact program has been one of the most effective tools in alleviating practice inefficiencies and optimizing phone handling.
You no longer need to be in the dark when it comes to managing your practice. Our detailed reporting evaluates key metrics and provides insights that allow you to make informed decisions. Want to see for yourself? Contact us for a free demo.
There are some cases when ignorance is bliss. But when it comes to running a thriving practice, managers need to be able to track, measure and optimize performance based on data. Anything else and you’re flying blind.