Do you sometimes wonder where some of your favorite patients have gone? In a study by the International Customer Research Institute, individuals gave the following reasons for becoming “non-repeat” customers:
- 1% died (makes you wonder how they responded)
- 3% moved out of town
- 5% said friendships convinced them to shop elsewhere
- 9% said competition – only 9%???
- 14% were dissatisfied with the product or service
- 68% cited an attitude of indifference by employees (doctor and team)
Do you believe that your team’s attitude is communicated over phone to patients? Very often the telephone is the first and only contact patients have with your practice. Make sure that this experience is the best you and your team have to offer so that interested new patients become scheduled new patients!
Smile when you answer the phone.
Even if your hair is on fire or the last caller chewed you out, pause for a moment to put a smile on your face and in your voice. Believe it or not, people can hear you smiling through the phone.
Try to answer the phone no later than the third ring.
If patients have to wait through rings four and five, they begin to think that you have closed for the day, gone out of business or just don’t care. We live in a world of instant gratification. Be sure you meet your patients expectations.
Ask permission before you put someone on hold.
You may have multiple lines ringing and a patient standing at your desk, but wait to hear the caller’s response. It is that person’s choice to hold or not. Try not to turn this move into a power play. When you come back on the line, thank the person for holding. If you have to ask the caller to continue to hold, offer to take a number and return the call soon after.
Always make an offer of help.
It may not be your issue or your job, but if a patient has a problem, you need to show concern. Never tell the patient ” ‘I don’t know'” or “I can’t help you.” The best response to a problem is a genuine “Let me see what I can do or who I can find to help you.”
You will attract new patients to your practice and provide existing patients with exceptional service every time when you use good phone answering skills.