A few weeks ago, we released an article, “Your office is part of your marketing.” This article touches on the general topic of branding your practice. Every time a patient interacts with your practice it is an opportunity to brand your practice. What does someone experience when they walk in the door? How about when they call on the phone? How knowledgeable are the responses to questions they ask? What is their experience like? Is it professional? Is it consistent?
We help practices generate new leads but what happens to those leads when they pick up the phone and call the office? Is your staff trained to convert those new leads into patients? Updating your website for conversion optimization drives more leads but how can you increase you conversion rate inside the practice?
One of the elements we integrate into nearly all healthcare marketing campaigns is call tracking. When integrated properly, call tracking provides a great deal of information about whether your marketing is working or not. We can use call tracking to help understand which campaigns are generating leads and what types of leads they are generating. Another benefit is that our call tracking system allows us to listen in on recorded phone calls between new patients and healthcare staff. From reviewing hundreds of these calls, we have noticed a few insights that, if correct, will help you convert and retain patients.
- Have a real person answer the phone.
Sometimes in small offices, this can be difficult but we encourage all offices to have a real person answer the phone. Patients calling in expect to be able to ask questions and schedule an appointment. If they are forced to leave a message, 7 out of 10 times they won’t.
- Ask for the sale.
Often, in an attempt to be nice, the receptionist or person answering the phone does not attempt to close the sale. This person may give away too much information and scare the patient or they may act indifferent about whether the patient schedules an appointment or not. In our review of healthcare practices, we have seen that many receptionists are not trained salespeople but they are serving in that role. Invest in some basic sales training for this person and you won’t be sorry.
- Be helpful.
It is shocking the number of practice representatives that appear to be burdened by a patient call. A patient calling in is great news because they are interacting with the practice. Be friendly and helpful. Find a way to help solve their problem. You can listen in on the conversations between your receptionist and new patients. Is that how you want your patients to be treated? If not, change it.
- Be knowledgeable.
Many practices have a receptionist that takes calls. Unfortunately, this representative also is forced to field difficult and technical questions. It is important to have a knowledgeable representative on the phone that can quickly and efficiently answer questions. If that is not an option for your practice, it may be a good idea to have a hygienist or doctor on call to be able to take over the call in a more complex situation. If you have someone on the phone saying I don’t know or I can’t answer that, this reflects poorly on the practice. The receptionist needs to know what to do or say in each situation. Whomever is on the phone needs to be confident in their responses to questions.
- Be available.
Let’s face it, some practices have strange hours. For the average patient, it is difficult to understand when the office will be open or not. If you have work-friendly hours, that is great. If you are closed every Monday or Friday, that can be a problem for some people. We have found patients often will delay care because they have a hard time remembering to call during certain hours. In fact, when we monitor healthcare lines, we see a great deal of non-emergency call activity early in the mornings and between 5PM and 7PM in the evenings. Unfortunately, most practices are not available during this window. Even worse, many offices don’t answer the phone during the traditional 12:00PM – 1:00PM lunch hour, which is the highest volume time for calls for many practices. Worst of all, we have discovered through our call analysis that patients are extremely reluctant to leave a message for the healthcare practice. Instead, they will call back at a later time. If it is a first-time caller, they will likely call the next practice they find in their Google search and book an appointment with them.
These are just a few tips on how you can improve your new patient conversion and existing patient satisfaction. As always, each practice is different but the concept of creating a positive and consistent patient experience applies to all practices. Review these tips and implement them and I guarantee you will have more and happier patients.
If you read this article and are interested in utilizing our call tracking system, feel free to contact us. It is very affordable and can help track the success or failure of your print and online marketing. The recordings can also be a great sales training tool to help understand and advise your staff on how to better interact with patients.