Does Your Patient Want A Lime Or A Green Lemon?”

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Have you ever had a patient call your Practice enquiring about something that doesn’t seem to make sense or that you don’t understand?

Were you able to help the caller and find a solution for them as well as make an appointment?

In most Offices a call that begins with some confusion and misunderstanding usually ends the same way.

Having the skill on the phone to determine the needs of the caller is a skill that is needed to be developed in your Practice.

I recently had a similar experience while in Paris.

Now given English is not the first language of the French I did expect there to be moments on my trip where there could be some misunderstandings.

One example stands out in my mind.

I was looking forward to a Gin and Tonic before my dinner in a restaurant. I asked if I could please have a piece of lime instead of the usual lemon. The waiter, who could speak some English, looked at me in a baffled kind of way. I then tried to explain I didn’t want lemon but lime in some way that he would understand. After all lime makes a big difference to the taste of the drink.

I then thought about how to differentiate between the colours of the two fruits. Finally I asked for a “verte” (green) lemon not a “citron”. Suddenly the waiter nodded his head as he now knew exactly what I wanted.

Lime and lemons

The lime story is a lot like those of our callers and patients, and the confusion that can occur over the phone and in the dental Office on a daily basis. Once we eliminate the confusion there is trust, and a belief by the caller that you are going to be helping them with their Dental needs.

Think about your own Practice. How many callers end their conversation just as confused and often even more confused than before they called you. Why then would they want to make an appointment at your office?

The skill of the Front Office Person to cut through confusion over the phone is crucial to the success of your Practice.

Does your Office know how to ask the right questions to overcome confusion?

Think about how many potential patients have called your office and did not make an appointment because their problem was not addressed.

It’s probably a significant number.

Reducing that number, and increasing your conversions, is a way to a more successful Practice.

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This blog will feature simple practical ideas that are easy to implement tomorrow in your Practice, impacting immediately on the Patients Phone Experience, and ultimately, improving your practice profitability.

Phone Excellence Mastery is a simple to implement complete Phone Answering system I developed that helped me to build an extraordinary practice in the heart of working class western Sydney.

For more information on how I can improve your practice profitability contact me, Jayne Bandy at  jayne@theDPE.com

 

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The Difference Will Make All The Difference

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When New Patients call your Practice what do you say to them to set you apart from the other Offices they may have already called?

What do you think happens when the New Patient calls your Practice and is told the same generic information they only just heard on their last call?

When the calls come in, your Office needs to ask or let the caller know something they did not know or thought about before.

There are a number of ways to do this.

After speaking to a number of Practices over the years, the point of difference between one office and another can be as simple as one or two questions to create curiosity and concern in the caller’s mind.

For example:

“How long have you had this discomfort?”
“Have you had this before and then it went away?”
“Does it wake you up at night?” (even if it hasn’t, the caller will now begin to think this could actually happen. Often it does.)

Answering the phone

Most offices answer the phone in a pleasant and kind manner. It would be nice to think this is a point of difference but it really isn’t.

Simply listening to the needs of the caller can also be a big point of difference.

Listening and finding out is really the only way to provide the best advise to then make the correct appointment for the caller. You don’t want to waste the patient’s time and the doctor’s time by booking in the wrong appointment.

Most Offices will talk to the caller with generic questions and answers that don’t let the caller know anything different.

If your Office can start the caller thinking differently about their medical concern then you will send the message to the caller that your Office has more expertise and you really know what you are doing.

This is ultimately what you want.

Giving expert advice creates trust and confidence, which will make it very likely the caller will book an appointment with your Office, and not the office they previously called or the next office they were going to call.

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This blog will feature simple practical ideas that are easy to implement tomorrow in your Practice, impacting immediately on the Patients Phone Experience, and ultimately, improving your practice profitability.

Phone Excellence Mastery is a simple to implement complete Phone Answering system I developed that helped me to build an extraordinary practice in the heart of working class western Sydney.

For more information on how I can improve your practice profitability contact me, Jayne Bandy at  jayne@theDPE.com

Posted in Customer Service, Front Office, Medical, Medical Consultant, Phone Excellence Mastery, Phone Skills, Practice Management, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“How Long Do I Need To Spend On The Phone?”

I was recently asked by a Practice Team Member:

“How long should I spend on the phone with a patient or New Patient enquiry?”

I thought about this question for a while thinking I needed to give an actual amount of time or there must be some sort of equation to work this out.

Then I answered.

“As long as it takes.”

As long as it takes to do what?

As long as it takes to help the caller make an appointment.

This is really the best way to help the caller.

As long as it takes means:

1. Have clear, precise questions for the type of call you are on

2. Stay in control of the conversation by asking those questions

3. Listen more than you speak

4. Ensure you stay on track during the conversation

5. End the call by making an appointment.

If you don’t have these steps in place when answering the phone you will end up with an extremely long call.

This will not work well for your busy Office Schedule or the caller’s day.

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Keep in mind my previous blog Handling The Shopper Call: “How Much Does It Cost?” where I mentioned being careful which questions you do and do not answer straight away.

Some questions will immediately cause the caller to say thank you and hang up.

Yes you know the dreaded question often asked:

“How much does it cost?”

Keep your questions to the point. And that point is to stay focused on helping the caller make an appointment.

This is how long it takes!

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This blog will feature simple practical ideas that are easy to implement tomorrow in your Practice, impacting immediately on the Patients Phone Experience, and ultimately, improving your practice profitability.

Phone Excellence Mastery is a simple to implement complete Phone Answering system I developed that helped me to build an extraordinary practice in the heart of working class western Sydney.

For more information on how I can improve your practice profitability contact me, Jayne Bandy at  jayne@theDPE.com

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How Do You Know If Your Office Phone Is Being Answered Correctly?

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Have you ever listened to how your Front Office people are answering your Office phone?

Which Doctor has time to be listening to calls coming into their Office?

In reality, don’t the patients come in to see the Doctor not the person taking the calls?

Ultimately they do need to see the Doctor but just imagine if someone is stopping them from coming in?

Have you ever thought that the person answering your phone in your Office could actually be STOPPING patients from seeing the Doctor?

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I don’t mean they would ever be doing it on purpose but even worse they may not even realise their words on the phone are stopping callers from making or keeping their appointments.

What we say to our patients on the phone makes the difference between them making an appointment and not making an appointment.

So that means, answering the phone must start with an outcome in mind.

Then, in the process, you find out everything you can to help meet the needs of the person calling so that you can make them an appointment.

The person calling has not really been helped if they make no appointment and never get to see your Doctor. When this happens the person answering the phone has actually stopped the caller from seeing your Doctor.

Before the patient sees the Doctor they speak to the person you have entrusted to answer the phone.

Who is the person you have chosen to do this?

Do they know what to say and ask?

Has anyone educated them to know what to say?

Is anyone checking that they are saying the right things on the phone?

Next time you have a chance, listen to what’s being said on your Office phone and see what you think.

If you don’t like what you hear or you believe the phone should be answered better, then do something about it today!

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This blog will feature simple practical ideas that are easy to implement tomorrow in your Practice, impacting immediately on the Patients Phone Experience, and ultimately, improving your practice profitability.

Phone Excellence Mastery is a simple to implement complete Phone Answering system I developed that helped me to build an extraordinary practice in the heart of working class western Sydney.

For more information on how I can improve your practice profitability contact me, Jayne Bandy at  jayne@theDPE.com

 

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The Power of Referring to a Higher Authority

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Over the years of helping my patients make appointments, I have found myself often referring to a Higher Authority.

The Doctor.

Using and presenting the Doctor as a Higher Authority is always very helpful when making appointments over the phone and increasing the patients concern and urgency.

No I don’t mean you drag the Doctor out of their office/surgery away from their patient to answer the phone, but you can make the Doctor a big part of your phone call without them actually being on the phone.

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When following up with a patient who has delayed their treatment due to a number of reasons, letting them know that the doctor has asked you to give them a call, does create MORE importance than a call only from the Front Office.

The patient has already discussed the importance and concern of their condition/treatment with the doctor.

When the doctor asks you to call the patient this is always going to be received with more concern from your patient.

“Dr Brown has asked me to call you regarding your appointment. It must be important.”

You can also include the doctor when a patient has called with a question or you are checking the patient’s chart. “Let me check with Dr Brown and I will call you straight back.” or “May I place you on hold for a moment while I check this with Dr Brown?”

This reinforces the urgency to make an appointment.

“I have checked with Dr Brown and he needs to see you.” Let’s make an appointment time for you right now.”

The patient calling also feels they are in good hands because you asked the doctor to confirm the importance of making an appointment for them.

So next time you take a call from a patient you don’t have to do it alone. You can ask your doctor for help and not even disturb him in the treatment room.

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This blog will feature simple practical ideas that are easy to implement tomorrow in your Practice, impacting immediately on the Patients Phone Experience, and ultimately, improving your practice profitability.

Phone Excellence Mastery is a simple to implement complete Phone Answering system I developed that helped me to build an extraordinary practice in the heart of working class western Sydney.

For more information on how I can improve your practice profitability contact me, Jayne Bandy at  jayne@theDPE.com

 

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The Follow Up Call. Is It A Nightmare In Your Office?

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Does your Front Office always seem to be calling patients because they have cancelled their appointments, or they never made an appointment?

Accepting cancellations over the phone and not making ongoing appointments for these patient is a nightmare in most Practices.

Factoring in the time for Patient Follow Up Calls is so time consuming especially while other calls are coming in.

Ensuring your patients make their next appointments before they leave will save a lot of time organising a new appointment over the phone later on.

The Follow up call is always a challenge. It’s even more of a challenge the longer it has been since the appointment was cancelled or not made.

Try to get onto the follow up call as soon as you can.

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There can be a number of reasons a patient does not make an appointment over the phone but more than often we have not increased their concern or created enough urgency in their minds.

Making an appointment on the phone is easy with the right language.

  1. Go over where the patient is up to in their understanding of their treatment needed.
  2. Ask questions to build concern and urgency

“What would happen if…”

“Are you concerned that…”

“Have you noticed…”

Get the patient thinking about what they have not thought about or may have forgotten.

The patient needs to be concerned about what will happen if they don’t make an appointment.

There are four main reasons why a patient cancels their appointment or leaves your Practice without their next appointment.

  1. Not enough urgency and concern was given to your patient before they left your office or over the phone.
  2. You didn’t find out if there was anything standing in the way of them getting started with their treatment. For example:  fear, money, time, trust.
  3. Your patient didn’t understand their Treatment.
  4. You did not build enough trust and belief in their treatment

There are some great questions we can ask patients to check how ready they are to start their treatment so as to avoid cancellations down the track or no appointment being made in the first place.

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This blog will feature simple practical ideas that are easy to implement tomorrow in your Practice, impacting immediately on the Patients Phone Experience, and ultimately, improving your practice profitability.

Phone Excellence Mastery is a simple to implement complete Phone Answering system I developed that helped me to build an extraordinary practice in the heart of working class western Sydney.

For more information on how I can improve your practice profitability contact me, Jayne Bandy at  jayne@theDPE.com

 

Posted in Customer Service, Front Office, Medical, Medical Consultant, Phone Excellence Mastery, Phone Skills, Practice Management, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Everyone Deserves The Opportunity To Change Their Mind.

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Now, I know you might be thinking that I’m referring to the patient who calls to cancel their appointment for what they often believe is a very good reason.

Well, yes, I am referring to this patient.

But, you see, I don’t believe this patient needs to be given an opportunity to cancel or change their appointment.

What they need to be given is the opportunity to change their mind about cancelling or changing their appointment.

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Sometimes at your Practice, a patient will call to cancel their appointment.

Your Practice  may be busy, busy and the easiest and quickest reply to a cancellation call is to accept it and listen to the patient and say,  “I will call you back to make another appointment”.

And the answer is “OK” and even “Thank You”!!

What!?!

The patient now believes it is OK to cancel their appointments and you thank them for calling and cancelling!

Think about this…..

If a cancellation call comes into your Office never be in a rush, no matter what.

Take the time to think and ask the right questions.

You do have a duty of care to this patient to give them an opportunity to change their mind and not cancel their appointment.

The appointment was made for a very good reason and you will have to now increase  their urgency and concern on the phone.

Ask your patient if they can change a few things to keep their appointment.

Let them know the dentist is concerned they will not be coming in.

If you don’t ask for them to keep this appointment they definitely won’t.

You also need to think very carefully about the language you use to set up the appointment in the first place.

Asking your patient if they are aware of what can happen if they don’t come in for this appointment is a great question.

Having the caller keep their appointment can be as simple as getting this part right in the beginning.

If your patient has little concern or urgency for their treatment then of course it will be top of the list for them to call and cancel if a better offer comes along.

It can be tough.

We all know going to the doctor is not at the top of the list of favourite things to do for the day, but knowing what can happen if we don’t go ahead can be so concerning that cancelling the appointment just isn’t an option.

So next time a call comes in from a patient wanting to cancel their appointment, take a deep breath and think about what you are about to say and ask them.

Give your patients the gift of changing their mind.

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This blog will feature simple practical ideas that are easy to implement tomorrow in your Practice, impacting immediately on the Patients Phone Experience, and ultimately, improving your practice profitability.

Phone Excellence Mastery is a simple to implement complete Phone Answering system I developed that helped me to build an extraordinary practice in the heart of working class western Sydney.

For more information on how I can improve your practice profitability contact me, Jayne Bandy at  jayne@theDPE.com

 

Posted in Customer Service, Front Office, Medical, Medical Consultant, Phone Excellence Mastery, Phone Skills, Practice Management, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment