Recently a client told me about a well-intended staff member who was trying to be too helpful with callers to his practice. In this case, the receptionist offered treatment direction. As a result, the prospective patient didn’t feel the need to make an appointment.

Too Much Information can be harmful

The damaging downside of this can be:

  • Too much advice in relation to a patient’s particular problem over the phone keeps prospective patients out of the practice. In effect, being well-meaning on the phone is a barrier, and not a pathway, to new patients.
  • Over-the-phone ‘clinical’ advice might put the practice at risk. It’s good to be warm and friendly, but nobody wants to misdirect a patient.

In this situation, the receptionist had lost sight of their main objective: Book an early and convenient appointment where the new patient would be seen and treated.

The three steps for new patient phone calls

Individuals who call the practice about it’s services want reassurance. And an office appointment is the doorway to the treatment or services that answers their need.

What your staff need to do:

  1. Track the source: What prompted the person to call? Was it due to a patient or professional referral? Was it the result of an advertisement or an online marketing message? Knowing the source helps the practice respond to the patient’s needs or interests. In the long term, tabulating the effective sources helps guide future marketing and advertising decisions.
  2. Convert call to an appointment: The best environment for helping a patient is in the office. The caller needs assurance that the practice or practitioner can help and that an appointment is the best next step. The appointment should be convenient and soon.
  3. Provide additional decision support: Offer additional information to reinforce the patient’s appointment decision. This might be pre-New Patient Email or it could be via the practice website, blog or Facebook page.

The cost of getting it wrong

Think about this, imagine if your clinic reception staff loses a prospective new patient by giving advice over the phone, consider how that would hurt your clinic’s growth plan. For example, if the value of a single typical case was $3,000. And assume that only one case per week was lost.

At a minimum, that is about $125,000 dollars in lost revenue each year!!!