Your front desk is the first and last thing that every patient experiences every time they interact with your practice. This position is likely the lowest paid position in your office. This position is also likely the highest turn over in the office AND you are probably absolutely sick and tired of training new people.What can be done to remedy this? What do we want, what are the absolute most important things that this position should do at the highest possible level? I would sum them up in these three items:
- Swiftly and professionally schedule all new patients that call.
- Keep patients on schedule for their care plan.
- Make patients feel welcome.
Sure, they will likely perform any number of other menial tasks you no longer want to do, but these three will make or break your practice. So, how do you get these three vital tasks done at the highest level over and over again?
First, "Swiftly and professionally schedule all new patients that call." How should they be greeting people? What is the greeting they are supposed to use?
- "Hello and thank you for calling ABC Chiropractic?"
- "Hello and thank you for calling ABC Chiropractic, how may I help you?"
I am sure most of you think your staff is using something very much like the third. But much more often than you think they are saying something more like: "ABC Chiropractic (DEAD AIR)"
This is really not friendly and puts the caller off from the first second they are introduced to your office.
The greeting is also about how they say it not just what they say. What is their general tone when they greet people; happy? Bored?
If the caller is a new patient, these greetings, or lack thereof, may be enough to make the person hang up or walk out right on the spot, and if it doesn't it will (at the least) make scheduling them in, signing them up and keeping them coming back regularly for care that much harder.
The second vital duty is "Keeping patients on their schedules."
For years, there has been a "reconfirm call" duty. Demanded (hopefully) by doctors and hated (unfortunately) by staff.
Every time reconfirm calls drop out your patient visit numbers go down as your no show rate goes up. Then after "down visits" for two, three or four days you go up and ask, "What is happening with the patient visits are you still doing the reconfirm calls?" Then you hear something about how they are just too busy to do those calls. The good news is that with technology you can automate this and remove the duty all together from the front desk position.
The third point is "Make patients feel welcome."
Think about when patients are walking into the office. How does your front desk greet them then? Hello? Hello, welcome back? Hello (insert name), welcome back?
Again, I would guess you expect the third but likely have the first or possibly no greeting at all. What about when the patient is sitting in the waiting room and they hear the front desk answer the phone in a short, less than professional manner? It is time to defer to technology.
Today, call tracking technology can be used very economically to monitor and train your staff on how they handle calls. You can have every call that comes into your office recorded. You can download these, play them back with the individual staff member or play them back at your staff meeting.
This is accountability on every call - every time. This isn't done surreptitiously.
All callers are made aware of that they are being recorded. Reputable call tracking companies always include a verbal, "This call may be recorded for training purposes" disclaimer to all calls prior to them being connected and recorded.
And of course, your staff too will know that every call is monitored.
Just knowing that there is accountability can improve their performance drastically not to mention then actually listening to the calls, rating the calls and performance and seeing each staff member's statistics on number of calls taken vs. the number of new patients scheduled. That will take your accountability to the next level.
SMS or text message marketing and communication is going to become much more popular. Adding a phone line to allow people to respond to your ads via SMS can increase your lead numbers by as much as 50% now and in the future it will be even more. Allowing patients to schedule or reschedule via SMS will become popular.
But right now, call tracking technology properly used makes life easier, more organized and gives you data you need as an executive of your practice.
Don't let another day go by where you have no idea what is really happening up front. You may be wasting marketing dollars generating calls that are literally turned away.
Set up call tracking; explain what you are doing to your staff and how you will use it to improve the handling of patients. Then watch your practice numbers soar!