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Ready for Change in the New Year?
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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Chances are, your team members are pretty set in their ways. They’re comfortable with their routine and have no interest in changing how they complete their tasks, even if implementing small changes will make their job easier and help grow your practice. This isn’t because they’re not interested in being more efficient or increasing production numbers. Your team members want to do their part to move the practice forward. But the fact is, most people are resistant to change. It’s simply human nature. That’s why team members will often shoot down even the best ideas if they require fundamental changes to their work processes.

Changes to their routine might make your employees feel threatened, leaving them worried about their ability to perform their role and, ultimately, their job security. I’m not even talking about drastic changes. If you suggest something as simple as altering the way team members answer the telephone you’ll likely be met with puzzled looks and questions as to why the change is necessary. Employees might also resist if you want to add a new task to their list of duties. They’ll come up with a variety of excuses in an effort to avoid the change to their routine, such as “I don’t have time to do that” or “Our patients won’t like that.”

Let me give you an example of how this might play out in your practice. Practice production is down and you’ve decided it’s time to do something about it. You’ve tasked your loyal team member, Sarah, with making follow-up calls to remind patients of their appointment times two days in advance. You’ve also asked her to begin auditing patient records to identify unscheduled treatment and then call those patients as well.

While this is a great way to reduce cancellations and no-shows and grow production, Sarah wants no part of it. Why? She’s afraid these calls will do nothing to encourage patients to make an appointment and will annoy them instead.

But that’s not the only problem. Sarah has no idea what to say to these patients, and she’s truly afraid her job could be in jeopardy if she says the wrong thing – especially if she knows you plan to measure her performance based on her ability to get patients in the chair. It’s no wonder Sarah doesn’t want to take on this new task.

This is where proper training comes in. Sarah won’t be nearly as nervous about making these calls if you give her the tools needed to succeed. And in this case, she needs well thought-out scripts.

Scripts will prepare Sarah, and your other team members, for any situation that comes up while talking with patients over the phone. They won’t have to fumble around for answers to questions or figure out how to tell patients why it’s so important to move forward with recommended treatment; it will all be right there in the script.

Now I know some people think scripts make conversations sound canned or unnatural, but I’m here to tell you the opposite is true. Scripts make effective communication possible. They can help you build patient relationships while also increasing production and growing your bottom line. 

Just remind team members that it’s important to keep these phone calls conversational. They certainly don’t want to sound like a robot while talking with patients about scheduling treatment. Have team members practice using the scripts together, and record conversations to listen to later. This will help them further improve their telephone skills, which will make a big difference when answering new patient phone calls or following up with patients to schedule treatment.

For your practice to grow, your team members must be open to and prepared for any necessary changes. Otherwise, any change you attempt to make won’t be successful and everyone will fall back into the same old routine. In Sarah’s case, that means developing scripts that help her naturally talk with patients about scheduling treatment. Armed with scripts, she’ll no longer worry about losing her job because she isn’t comfortable making calls. Instead she’ll focus on scheduling more patients for treatment, which will in turn grow practice production and revenues.

Not sure how to develop scripts? These templates should help. If you need more guidance feel free to contact me. I know change can be difficult. Just remember you don’t have to do it alone.

Next week, Create scripts that lead to positive change 

For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
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