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A customer’s first impression is key making the first call to your office a critical moment. Unfortunately, many medical practices are unaware that 20-30% of potential new patients are lost on the initial phone call to their office.
A number of our clients have frequently inquired about this problem - they have had so many calls but can’t figure out why they are unable to convert those callers into scheduled appointments. The first concern is typically related to lead quality and sometimes that can be the issue.
However, in other cases, it only takes listening to a handful of their calls to understand where there may be a disconnect. While your office staff may be professional and friendly, they may not be properly trained to promote and sell your practice to the potential customer on the other end of the phone.
In order to help you make the most of every call, we have put together a list of best call practices so you can make the best of your first impression with potential patients.
Let Them Hear You Smile
Years ago, when I was in inside sales for a large cosmetic medical company I was given a mirror to put on my desk next to my phone. When I asked what the mirror was for, my trainer explained that she wanted us to glance over and physically smile into the mirror as we answer the phone.
At first I was hesitant to take her advice, but eventually I took the message to heart and started smiling as I spoke to callers. I found I built rapport quicker and ultimately started to convert callers into appointments easier.
I’m not saying that you need to have a huge smile on your face for the entirety of the call but answering with a smile will make a difference and the tone of your voice will as well. If you are bored or disinterested, that will come through on the call. If you are rushed, your caller will feel rushed and uneasy. If you have a calm, happy demeaner, most times your caller will feel calm and at ease as well.
Often times while reviewing a call, I hear staff engaging in conversation for three to five minutes without ever asking the caller’s name. This can’t happen, especially if you are marketing and this is a “paid medical lead.”
When I train medical staff, I always recommend that you answer the phone with a standard greeting, followed by “may I ask whom I’m speaking with?”. At that point you may ask where they heard about you or how you can help but always make sure to ask what their best call back number is in case you get disconnected.
If you do this in a streamlined manner it won’t come off as intrusive and callers will be more likely to give you the information you need to put them into whatever patient management software you are using. If you want to accurately measure your marketing efforts, tracking every lead is paramount.
Building rapport ties back to number one but should be a constant during that initial interaction with a potential new patient. Ask questions and then listen when they answer. Have a notebook next to you and jot down notes during the call that can help during scheduling.
Depending on what your specialty is, your caller may be in pain or have an underlying medical condition that is affecting their day-to-day life so make sure you show compassion by letting them know you care. This will help establish trust and set a strong foundation moving forward.