Telephone Skills for Difficult Situations
We all know that the telephone is the lifeline to the practice. It is the patient or potential patient’s first impression of the business and often the deciding factor in making an appointment. It does not stop there in the building of patient relationships. Patient retention is also governed by how we handle the difficult situations that arise over an office policy or between the patient and a staff member. A system with scripting on how to handle problematic events is good customer service and a necessary tool for your office.
Every caller is different. People experienced in customer service learn to recognize these differences and adjust their responses accordingly. In the dental practice, challenging calls can be attributed to the usual billing and insurance issues but can also be about treatment options, post-operative concerns and feedback on how the patient was treated by a staff member. Defining the caller’s behavior will help give an idea as how to manage the call. The basic behavior patterns are:
Let’s take a look at The Angry Caller, who is a challenge to even the most experienced Business Coordinator. Separating yourself and not going on the defensive are important skills to learn. Follow this course of action:
The Demanding Patients will show themselves by trying to take control of the conversation in the first sentence. They are very clear in what they want and may catch the usually very accommodating business coordinator off guard with their no-nonsense directness. They want to get down to business and want to be assured that there will be immediate call to action. Try this approach:
The Analytical Caller is focused on accuracy and wants every step of the treatment explained so that they can digest it and give value to it. They want to know the “who, what, why, when and how” of their treatment. If time was not given to this type of patient during the diagnosis and treatment-planning stage of the office visit, you can expect them to call later. If the Clinical Assistant or Treatment Coordinator is available, you can transfer this call to make sure the information is accurate or you can schedule a call-back after research is done on the patient’s proposed treatment plan.
The Talkative Callers want attention and they are usually friendly and enjoyable to speak to. You may be very busy and not able to spend the time that they want in a conversation. Use the following to remain in control:
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