2.1.13 Issue #569 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
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And the Oscar goes to…the Successful Collection Call
Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

Oscar night is soon to be here and I am one to never miss it. The nominations are being made for best picture and actor, and many of us (including myself) are trying to see them all before the big night. 

Often your job as Business Coordinator will mimic a big drama as you rehearse and practice what you are going to say when making those dreaded collection calls.  Collection calls are the end result of poor financial arrangements in the beginning stages of the relationship with your patients. Setting up sound financial arrangements includes why they are paying, when they are paying and how they are paying. Communicating to the rest of the team in the morning huddle which patients will be paying their co-payments or fees prior to seating will alert the clinical staff not to seat the patient until collections are successful. The same goes for patients who wish to pay at dismissal. The clinical staff should be made aware of this so that they can direct the patient to “wait for Betty, the Business Coordinator to check you out.” This prevents the “slip out the door to avoid payment” routine.

After years of experience working with staff whose primary responsibilities are financial arrangements and follow-up, the evidence points to certain temperament types or personalities being more comfortable in this arena than others. Personalities that are introverted and feeling in nature look at financial arrangements and collection systems as confrontational and will avoid this task. If patients are leaving without a written financial agreement and are being told they will receive a statement after insurance is billed, it is a prescription for delinquent accounts.

Studies show that if you do not ask, you will not receive. Patient perception is that you don’t need the money and are probably over-charging anyway. This mindset will prevent the best patient from paying, even after you have sent several statements in the mail. Having the wrong personality type making collection calls will not reap the best results, and will perhaps make things worse if there is not a written script and a plan to follow. Never “wing” a collection call, because something will be left out. The best personalities for this job are extroverted logical types, who understand the rules and can stay on focus and not be taken off track by an emotional plea or display.

The following script with Bob the Delinquent Patient and Betty the Business Coordinator will help even the most reluctant collector:

Bob:  This is Bob, who is calling?
Betty:  Bob, this is Betty B calling from Dr. Needdough’s office. How are you today?
Bob:  I am fine, thank-you.
Betty:  Bob, have you been receiving our statements?
Bob:  I think so, yes, I believe so.
Betty:  Great, because I need your help with your statement. It is showing you are two months past due and our accountant has asked me to call you. Can you please tell me when it will be paid?
Bob:  Well it will be paid as soon as I can, Betty. 
Betty:  Bob, the balance is already two months overdue. We really need to be paid now. I can take a credit card number over the phone to expedite this quickly.
Bob:  Betty, we are in a cash crunch since Christmas was just last month. Don’t you worry; we will pay it as soon as we can.
Betty:  I understand, Bob, and I appreciate you being candid with me, but I must receive something from you today. I can take a credit card number now or if you want to send a check today for a partial payment, say half by check or credit card and half in a couple of weeks?
Bob:  Okay, Betty, let me get my credit card. We will do half on the card and hopefully I can do the other in a couple of weeks.
Betty:  We really do appreciate your payment, Bob. I will let the accountant know of our arrangement. Thank you and have a great day.   

The key is to be firm but friendly. Getting the debtor on the phone with the first call is the best time to get paid. If you are unsuccessful in getting paid or getting an agreement on that first call, the chances of reaching this person on the phone again drop significantly because they will not answer your call.

Want to know how to prevent making collection calls? Call McKenzie Management today at (877) 777-6151 to arrange for Dental Business Training which includes role playing and scripting for successful collection calls.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’sTraining Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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