In my last post, I looked at the 7 Principles of the Report of Findings. But the report is not the first step in new patient flow.
The first step is actually scheduling the patient for their first appointment. And even before they call there is marketing going on which urges them to call in the first place.
Even though marketing is the issue where most people in our profession are the weakest, I regularly deal with that subject.
What I want to look at today though is how to improve the scheduling of patients on the first phone call.
#1. Use a phone script
Most chiropractors have no idea how many new patients are lost on the first phone call. Only a small portion of the doctors I’ve talked to have ever listened to their staff handle a patient on the phone. And even fewer practices have a script in place for their staff to use.
To let your staff ‘fly by the seat of their pants’ in scheduling new patients is not good business procedure. Now when I say ‘use a script’, I do not mean your staff has to hardsell or pressure the patient in.
I simply mean that there should be an easy step-by-step procedure to fall back on so your front desk person isn’t just answering 20 questions every time the phone rings. How many scheduling calls have been sidetracked by the patient starting to ask irrelevant questions like, “What type of adjusting does the doctor do? Where did he go to school? How long has he been in practice? What’s his pet’s name? What’s his favorite color??”
This is just an interview, where the caller is looking for an answer to come up which they don’t like, so they can hang up and call the next clinic. That’s why the staff person needs a script, so they can quickly answer the question and then follow up with a scheduling question of their own. Here’s what I mean, “The doctor’s favorite color is blue. Why don’t we schedule you for an appoint to talk about his technique, cat’s name, etc.. Which is better for you, morning or afternoon?”
#2. Be friendly on the phone.
Have you ever called a lawyer’s office? The typical phone answer is “Lawyer’s office!” usually in a gruff, somewhat annoyed tone of voice.
Yet there are some doctors who have copied this, by letting their staff answer the phone “Doctor’s office!” No, that will not do. Be friendly. Have them say something like, “This is Dr. ____ ‘s office. How may we help you?”
And make sure you have someone answering the phone that is a friendly and positive person. If you hire someone who is a negative, pessimist then don’t be surprised when they run off patients and throw away thousands of dollars in revenue.
I’ve also heard some stories from doctors where their staff said really stupid things on the phone too, like “oh you poor thing, why don’t you just take tylenol for that?”
The goal of every new patient phone call should be to spend as little time on the phone to get them scheduled for an appointment. In my experience, the longer a phone call lasts, the less likely the patient will schedule.
#3. Hold your phone receptionist accountable.
Unless you only see 1 patient an hour, you can’t sit there and monitor every call that comes in. That’s why I recommend regular (or at least periodic) recording of calls.
Every large company records calls for quality control. Why shouldn’t you do the same?
I recommend you try My Doctor Calls for this type of program. Usually they can set it up cheaper than you can, plus they have all kinds of tracking capabilities for your marketing too.
Built by internet pioneers and led by some of the world’s most respected doctors, they delivered the first state-of-the-art call tracking application specifically designed for doctors.
Check them out at www.mydoctorcalls.com or call them at 1-800-483-9190. Use the code “BECK100? to get $100 off.