Have you ever called a practice only to hear something very similar to this: “Xxxxxx Clinic, please hold…”
How did that make you feel?
If the patient does not have a good experience when they first call your practice, they may hang up or decide they’re not very comfortable with your practice and call one of your competitors. You’ve got to handle that first call well enough to instil a sense of trust in any prospective patient that calls so that they feel in their heart, or in their gut, that they’ve called the right place. If you botch this step, and you’re not converting these calls into appointments, you’ve just wasted all the marketing dollars it took to get that phone to ring in the first place and you’re getting zero return on your investment.
So… have you ever “Dummy Called” your practice to see what patients and potential patients who call actually experience? “Dummy Calling” can give you a patient-centric view of your practice.
Too often, the front desk receptionist for a busy practice is one of the least trained, lowest paid employees in the practice. And oftentimes, they’re not given the proper direction on how to answer a call from a prospective new patient. If they’re not trained properly and there aren’t protocols in place to handle inbound calls from new patients, then you could be spending a lot of money on marketing to generate those phone calls, only to lose any hope for a return-on-investment once they call your office!
Every front desk receptionist should follow some basic protocols with every prospective patient. Did the receptionist identify the practice? Did she identify herself? I don’t want to hear “Xxxxxx Clinic”. I want to hear “Thank you for calling Xxxxxx Clinic, this is Anna, how can I help you today?”
Did the receptionist ask the prospective new patient’s name and use the prospective new patient’s name in that critical first conversation? Using someone’s name when you speak with them makes them feel more comfortable and welcome.
Did the receptionist track the prospective patient’s referral source? “How did you hear about us?” “Who may we thank for referring you to our practice?” I call this “tracking” – determining the referral source of every new patient. How did they find out about you? How did they come to call you? Which of those marketing channels you’re investing in are actually working for you?
Did the receptionist get the prospective patient’s telephone number, address and any other contact information so you can communicate with the patient later? You need to be able contact these prospects if they don’t show up for their appointment or if they called your practice looking for information without actually scheduling an appointment. This way you can continue to market to them and to get them to ultimately make an appointment to come see you. You can offer to send them information and a brochure as a way to solicit their mailing address.