8.24.12 Issue #546 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Test Your Telephone Effectiveness
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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Do your patients feel welcome and glad that they called your office, or do they feel like they are just another interruption to your already busy day? Take the quiz and find out.

1. How many rings will I have to sit through before someone answers?
a) 5 rings or fewer (1 point)
b) 3 rings or fewer (2 points)
c) 1-2 rings (3 points)

After 2 rings, patients are wondering if the office is closed. A real person should answer your phone by the second ring or by your voicemail system by the fourth ring. Do not use answering machines. They are outdated and sound terribly unprofessional. Voicemail is affordable, professional, and messages can be easily changed.

2. How do you answer the office phone?
a) “Hello” (1point)
b) “Practice name only” (2 points)
c) “First name and practice name” (3 points)
d) “Good afternoon, this is Alexandra Elizabeth Stephanopolis. Thank you for calling Dr. Richard VanMeter’s Office. How can I help you?” (4 points)
e) “Thank you for calling Dr. VanMeter’s office. This is Michelle. How may I direct your call?” (5 points)

A, B, and C are too abrupt and don’t provide enough information. D is too wordy and discourages callers from identifying themselves because they feel pressured to get to the point rather than say their name. In addition, the person answering has to think about whether it is before or after noon. E gives the caller information and provides immediate assistance to address their specific concern. 

3. At what point do you get the patient’s name and phone number?
a) If the patient wants to schedule an appointment (1 point)
b) After the patient indicates why they called (2 points)

As soon as the patient is finished talking (never interrupt), their name and phone number should be repeated if they have been given. If not, request them. Obtaining the patient’s name will often secure a commitment if they are uncertain about whether they should schedule an appointment. After scheduling the appointment, restate the patient’s name, phone number, and appointment time. Also request or confirm the patient’s address.

4.  Have you ever said, “Please hold” to a caller?
a) Yes (1 point)
b) No (2 points)

Never put a caller on hold without asking for their permission and waiting for their response. “Mrs. Jones, may I put you on hold while I check on that?” Putting customers on hold without their consent makes a very poor impression. How many times have you placed a call to a business, the receptionist answers and instantly puts you on hold. You cannot even grunt before you are cut-off.

5.  Approximately how long do patients typically have to wait on hold?
a) 2 minutes (1 point)
b) 1 minute (2 point)
c) 30 seconds (3 points)
d) 15-20 seconds (4 points)

Studies show that after only 17 seconds, callers on hold become annoyed. How many patients have you annoyed today? However, patients are far more understanding if the business assistant explains why they are being asked to hold and provides the estimated time required. Knowing beforehand how long they can expect to wait reduces the chance of annoyance. Another option to prevent frustration is to offer the caller the choice of either holding or hanging up and having their call returned within a brief, specific time period.

6. Do you provide patients information while they are on hold?
a) No (1 point)
b) Yes (2 points)

Educating the patient is essential in reinforcing the importance of professional dental care as well as informing patients about other services the practice provides. No matter what size your practice, it’s likely that, at least occasionally, patients must be placed on hold. Use informative messages that enlighten patients about services you provide.

7. Do you always make it a point to thank the patient for calling?
a) Yes, when I think of it (1 point)
b) Yes, always (2 points)

How did your office score?

14 points or lower: Get Help Now
Sorry this number has been disconnected or is no longer in service. Serious telephone training is in order.

15-17 points: Room for Improvement
Please hang up and try your call again. There are areas that need prompt attention, but no need to disconnect the phone, just yet. I can provide you on-line training for your team, live for as many as you can fit around your computer monitor. Look HERE for more information.

18-20 points: Very Good

Congratulations, you are engaging in very good telephone communication. The key is to ensure that everyone on staff consistently uses best telephone practices.

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

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