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Phone Tips from the Experts

How to maximize the patient experience before the call is even answered

Practices with a higher conversion rate from phone leads to booked consultations go beyond looking at the dialogue between the prospect and their staff. They look at the entire structure of the phone system and they’ll actually walk through the prospective patient experience from start to finish. It’s looking at the small details in the first 20 seconds of a call that can help avoid confusion and direct the caller right where they need to go. These 5 strategies can help:


1. Mind the Phone Tree

We are all too familiar with the “Please listen closely as our options have changed”  followed by prompts for all the different departments of a practice including billing, referring physicians. Too many options are often presented and the one a prospect wants may not be clearly called out. 

However, the practices that are against using a recording and who pride themselves in answering every call with a live voice, are the some ones that have long hold times and the wrong people answering the new elective procedure phone leads.

OptiCall’s most successful clients use a simple 2 step recording to maximize the premium elective patients calls and make sure they are routed to people within the practice that are trained and prepared to handle those calls. So while phone trees are useful, it’s important to keep them simple and to the point.


2. Speak the Client’s Language

Practices tend to assume the average Joe speaks their language. They often forget prospective patients aren’t familiar with many of the medical terms they use every day. That’s why it’s a good rule of thumb to set up your phones and introduction message in a way that’s so simple and straight-forward, a five-year-old could reach the right department.

When patients are navigating through the initial phone menu, it’s sometimes best to avoid using procedure words like “refractive” or “PRK”. For example, a message like:

“Thank you for calling ABC Medical. Press 1 for refractive procedures…” could be confusing.

A better approach would be:

Thank you for calling ABC Medical. If you’re interested in Laser Vision Correction or scheduling a consultation, press 2.  All other calls and existing patients, please press 1.

Identifying and directing new prospects to your staff quickly, eliminates the potential for a new caller to get confused and lost in a long and complicated phone triage. Don’t let them try to self-navigate. Get them connected to a dedicated person who can help guide their journey and make them feel comfortable every step of the way.


3. Connect New Prospects to Your A-Team

You don’t want to leave your prospects in just anyone’s hands. All new leads should be managed by highly-trained phone counselors who know the ins and outs of your practice and can walk the prospect through almost every aspect of what they’ll experience – from when they walk in the door for the first time, to when they leave after a procedure, and subsequent follow up. This person isn’t someone that simply answers questions; they get to know the patient by listening and asking exploratory questions. They operate with the one goal of helping that caller feel good about taking the critical step of booking a consultation.

Given their job is so much more than just answering the phone, practices either outsource phone handling of prospective patients to professional counselors, or they have their best staff members manage those calls and have other members of the team handle existing patients, patients in the office, and administrative tasks.


4. Missed Calls = Missed Opportunities

The average practice misses 34% of calls. When considering only 15% of prospective patients actually leave a voicemail, you could be letting a high number of patients just fall through the cracks.

Not only are you losing out on potential revenue, you could be wasting a good chunk of your marketing budget driving those leads to well, nowhere.

It’s extremely important every call is answered.


5. Extend Your Hours of Coverage

Practices often hesitate to extend availability beyond the typical 9:00am to 5:00pm because it’s either difficult to ask staff to stay longer or the cost of hiring additional staff outweighs revenue generated from call volume.
However, prospective patients often do their research after work or on weekends. In fact, about 50% of patients research outside of business hours. That’s why many practices take advantage of OptiCall’s First Contact program, which gives them the ability to customize their business hours from 8:30am-10:00pm EST on weekdays, and 12:00pm-6:00pm EST on weekends. This allows them to capture the patients who are in their critical research phase and are ready to talk to someone in that moment – when their competitors may be closed.

With the growing consumer demand for quick access to information and a personalized approach to customer service, practices need to ensure their phones are set up in a way that avoids any confusion or potential frustration by the caller. Designing your phone structure in a way that prioritizes new prospects and gets them in the hands (or listening ears) of the best staff gives you the greatest chance of increasing the number of conversions and booked consultations.