Hellos and Good-Byes at Your Office
“You had me at hello.” Remember that line from Jerry Maguire? This is exactly what you want patients to say after their first phone call with your office. And let’s not forget when Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “I’ll be back!” You want your patients to say this, as well! Let’s look at some common patient communication scenarios and see where areas for improvement may be.
Initial Phone Call
First, it was actually the afternoon when she answered the phone, but your team hadn’t been to lunch yet so for them it was still morning. Instead of having to think about “morning or afternoon”, how about simply saying “Thank you for calling.” Second, who is this person answering the phone? Since the incoming phone call is an introduction to the office, it is appropriate for the person answering to introduce themselves. Third, what will the Business Coordinator do with this call - offer to assist, transfer the call or not extend their request to assist? “Thank you for calling Dr. Smith’s office, this is Julie, how may I assist you today?”
If more than one team member works in the business office, it is more efficient to ask the caller, in a very pleasant and helpful voice, “How may I direct your call?” If there is only one Business Coordinator at the front desk, then it would be just fine to answer with “How may I help you?” or “How may I be of assistance?” If you have wonderful clinical team members who are willing to answer the phone to keep it from ringing, I would recommend that they use “How may I direct your call?”
“How may I direct your call” allows the Schedule Coordinator who answered the phone to transfer the call to the Financial Coordinator, who is very familiar with the patient’s financial concerns since she/he works with the accounts daily. The Schedule Coordinator is busy “dialing for dollars” because there is a 2:00 opening on the doctor’s schedule today and the doctor is not scheduled to produce the daily goal.
Arrival at the Office
The clinical team member escorts Bob over to Sandy the Schedule Coordinator so she can schedule his next appointment. As Bob approaches Sandy, it is important that she looks up from her computer monitor, smiles and says “Hi Bob! How did everything go today?” She then reviews the services that were delivered and requests his payment for $75, which was pre-determined when his appointment was made so there is no surprise today. Again she requests his payment, makes eyes contact and smiles. She says nothing and just continues to smile until the checkbook, credit card or cash comes out of his wallet. Remember - whoever speaks next loses!
Sandy thanks Bob for his payment and proceeds to schedule his next appointment. She doesn’t ask when he wants to come in because she has a specific appointment time that needs to be filled, so she offers that time-slot first in hopes that he will take it. She has a scheduling “puzzle” to put together in order to reach the daily goals of the providers.
Sandy’s good-bye to Bob is warm and friendly. She asks if there is anything else she can do for him today, says thank you for taking time out of his busy schedule to visit, and tells him that she looks forward to seeing him again on August 5 at 3:00. Bob leaves saying to himself, “they are just so nice here…and I’ll be back!”
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