It’s always good to refresh your phone skills. The phone is often the first point of contact for patients with your practice.
Even though most practices are busy, answer the phone as quickly as possible (preferably within 3 rings). Always remember to ask permission before placing someone on hold or transferring them.
Utilise cheerful and warm greetings and farewells, and thank the patient for calling and for engaging with your practice.
How you sound on the phone can make or break the perception of the practice. Remember, how you use your voice acts as a stand-in for body language in phone interactions, so you need to appear as welcoming on the phone as you are to a physical patient.
Avoid the dreaded robotic monotone or fast blip of sound when saying the name of your practice or answering the patient. You may not even notice you’ve slipped into using it, but the patient will, and it may come across as boredom or disinterest with the conversation. Vary your tone, pace and volume to reflect your expressions and engage with the patient.
Good phone etiquette is part of caring for the patient. By being friendly, interested and professional, you will demonstrate respect for your patients and ensure that they will remain long-term patients of the practice.
Here’s a great training video that you may want to share with your team members on how to improve your phone skills.
The Medical Receptionist plays a big part of the overall patient experience
I read an article recently that identified the true value of a medical receptionist. Initially, the article spoke about the negative perception of the role of the receptionist either by the medical receptionists themselves or by the public at large. To change this perception, it was considered important to change the job title to something like ‘Brand Ambassador’ or ‘Director of first impressions’ creating a more positive image and perception of the true value of the role.
While those job titles may not be something that would ever occur, from a business perspective, it is those type of role titles that identify the importance of the first point of contact in any business and potentially the importance of the role in driving business growth and patient satisfaction.
Many of us have had experiences where we have arrived at a medical practice for a scheduled appointment and have had to wait for an unreasonable amount of time to see the doctor. There can be a couple of outcomes to this scenario.
A positive outcome would be that we were greeted with a friendly smile, the possible time delay explained to you and an apology for any inconvenience this may have caused. Alternatively, you arrive at a practice for your scheduled appointment, and you are asked your name and invited to take a seat, where you wait and wait and wait … (No communication, no explanation just plenty of time to start those stress hormones bubbling).
The impact of what a patient experiences in the above scenario can have real consequences for a growing practice. While the patient may have a good relationship with their doctor, the overall experience of visiting that practice is also important in retaining that patient and often other family members.