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8.15.08 Issue #336 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

What Every Top-Notch Telephone Team Must Know
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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“To see ourselves as others see us.” These immortal words of Scottish poet Robert Burns have been used time and again to remind us that the way others view us is often quite different from the way we view ourselves.

The disconnect between the two can be dramatic, as illustrated recently by a company that sought to educate staff on the difference between the level of customer service employees perceived they were delivering and what customers actually experienced. The business went to great lengths to organize mystery shoppers to contact each company branch office and record phone calls. Shortly thereafter, the branch managers were brought together for a seminar on customer service. Each manager was asked to describe the best customer experience and explain what made it excellent.

Every employee recognized good customer service, and everyone wanted to believe that they delivered it in their offices. But when the telephone calls were played, the room was filled with people who, for the first time, were getting a glimpse of how they came across to others. It wasn’t easy for these employees to listen to themselves poorly handle one call after another. It demonstrated that even though these individuals understood well the value of good customer service, they weren’t necessarily prepared to deliver it.

A similar scenario is common in dental practices in every city in every state. Employees handling telephone inquiries from patients often believe that they are being just as helpful and pleasant and conscientious as they possibly could. Yet the reality is far different. Truth be told, most front office staff view the telephone as a source of frustration and interruption; try as they might, they are not trained to represent the doctor or the office effectively on the phone. Consequently, they are costing dental offices a fortune in lost patients and lost production.

Do you have any idea how your team members come across on the telephone? If not, find out. While you’re at it, invest in a 90-minute training program that will turn your business staff into a five-star, top-notch telephone team without ever having to leave the office. McKenzie Management’s Telephone Skill Training program addresses the longstanding challenge faced by business staff: How do you maximize the telephone lines to boost new patients and practice production?

The training process is straightforward and time efficient. The doctor completes a brief questionnaire providing a quick summary of the type of practice and any current policies regarding scheduling of new patients and emergencies. Then the practice schedules time with a McKenzie Management trainer for the three 30-minute sessions—no out-of-office travel, no overnight expenses required.

All the practice has to provide is a quiet area, a computer with Internet access and a telephone. From there, employees log into the training website. With a McKenzie Management Telephone Skills trainer on the phone, they are guided through the training sessions. The lessons are spread out over a three-week period to give the business staff an opportunity to implement one aspect of the training before introducing the next.

As an added bonus, employees will have the opportunity to learn firsthand how they come across to patients over the telephone. During the training period the practice will receive two additional mystery patient calls to help employees and the doctor assess their progress.

After each session the doctor will receive a feedback form with results of the session, including topics covered, support materials provided to the staff and recommendations for improvement.

Once employees complete the training they will have the skills to expertly handle patient objections. They will understand how to guide patients to appropriate appointment times. They will be well prepared to make a truly professional first impression with new patients. And they will learn how to better manage those stressful times when the phone is ringing, the patients are standing at the desk and the clinical staff is making demands.

In most cases, simply educating staff on effective telephone communication can significantly improve their approach. Moreover, it can prevent the loss of hundreds of patients and tens of thousands of dollars every year.

Next, week, burning your bottom line or the telephone line.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com.
Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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