- "Hello, Dr Schoor's office. Our address? Sure. 285 Middle Country Rd. OK, by."
- "Hello, Dr Schoor's office. No, went don't take credit cards. OK, by."
- "Hello, Dr Schoor's office. OK. By."
So my question was, what the hell was going on? I decided to ask the receptionist, one of the new hires, what the phone calls were about.
- Call 1 was from someone who asked for our address, but she did not enquire as to who was calling or for what purpose.
- Call 2 was from a person who asked if we take credit cards, but my receptionist did not know who called or why they wanted to know whether or not we take credit cards.
- Call 3 was from a person who wanted their records sent to someone, only the receptionist did not ask for the patient's name or to whom they wanted the records sent or why.
Well, that is certainly not how I want my phones answered, and I could get angry at her, but the anger should really be directed at me. See, one can not assume that someone would or could know how you want the phones answered and what information they need to get from the caller. Some training was needed and I dropped the ball. No doubt in my mind, call #2 was from a new patient, so I lost some potential income. Serves me right!
Since the phone is the life's blood of a practice and the first, and perhaps most important, encounter that people have with you and your practice, phone training is essential for new hires. I knew that, and didn't do it. Now we drill the new hires with a variety of phone scenarios. As a mystery caller, I call my own office and ask the following questions.
- "Hi, is this Dr Kim's office?"
- Is this Suffolk Urology Associates?"
- "What is your address?
- "Do you accept United Health Care?"
- "Do you do vasectomies?"
The answers to the above questions are not simply yes or no. Instead, I have trained my staff answer those questions with questions and to try to elicit from the callers their names and the reason for the call and if it turns out that the caller is a new patient, to get them in the front door.
Poor phone skills can cost money. Lots of it. Phone training is critical!