The most common phone blunders can be easily avoided – we know because we screen through hundreds of calls each month as part of our YT Mystery Caller service, serving small and medium-sized practices and businesses of all kinds. Here are a few quick tips for front office and reception success, along with some information on our unique and valuable YT Mystery Caller (YTMC) program…
YTMC is one of the only services of its kind, available to businesses like yours. Each month, we listen to 2 recorded calls from each of your front desk and administrative team members and provide a positive, constructive, actionable “report card” to the team member, as well as management. This feedback is chock full of peaks and opportunities, and provides specific tips to improve future calls. As great service leads to sales and great salespeople do so with impeccable service, YTMC grows results through client satisfaction.
Even the best staff can benefit from coaching (we all watched the Olympics this summer and know what’s possible with the guidance of a quality coach!). In part, every employee can learn and improve. Further, the simple knowledge that someone may be listening and there will be accountability, creates an environment where each employee wants to consciously, and subconsciously, excel more than if left alone daily, as nearly all front desk, reception, and administrative staff are in many businesses. By holding your team accountable, challenging them to exceed expectations, and giving them the proper tools, you can rest assured that those valuable calls are optimized. Who doesn’t a winning group of receptionists and administrative staff on their team, who actually feel their boss invests in their success?
So, let’s review some of the most common phone mistakes… and how to fix them.
An Inconsistent Greeting
One call it’s “Thank you for calling, this is Janet.” Another call starts with “Thanks for calling Pacific Plastic Surgery, how can I help you?” Or even worse, “Plastic surgery practice.” Cringe! And this doesn’t include the 10-30% of calls that are not answered at all in many locations.
It’s quite simple: everyone who answers the phone in your practice should have a greeting that stays consistent, including 4 key elements:
- A warm hello: “Thank you for calling”
- The name of the practice
- The Team member’s name “This is ____”
- A smooth transitional phrase: “How may I be of service?”
And no matter how perfect your greeting script is, it can all be undone using a negative, or even neutral, tone. As humans, we can feel if someone is rushed, distracted, or in a bad mood on the other end of a call, and it makes our patients uncomfortable. We can’t afford to lose patients to something that can easily be avoided! Coach your team to pretend like each phone call is a flesh-and-blood person standing at the desk. Have them take a breath, smile, and put all their distractions away – every single time.
The Immediate Long Hold
Another biggie when it comes to professional phone calls is the dreaded “Please hold” at the beginning of the conversation. No one likes being put on hold, and they especially don’t like to feel they are inconveniencing your staff.
We get it, your team is busy. Patients are walking in, appointments are being scheduled, and on top of everything, now the phone is ringing. And yes, you likely do need to hire more staff and YellowTelescope is here to help with that project as well. But how long does it really take to complete a full greeting, listen to the reason for the patient’s call, and take down their name and number? We’ve found it typically takes just 30-60 seconds. And taking this extra time makes the caller feel like a priority instead of a nuisance. Once this is done, your staff may ask the caller to wait for a specific amount of time, or ask to call them back if it will be longer than 2-3 minutes.
Speaking of Placing Customers on Holding…You Need Some Hand Holding
Whether it’s a returning or potential client, your goal is to make them feel important. Challenge your front desk team to avoid phrases like “hold on a second” or “let me get back to you” and try to focus on a more service-oriented approach. Instead, replace the statement with a question and wait for the caller to respond: “May I place you on hold for about 30 to 60 seconds? Ok great, thank you” Keeping tones pleasant and light will also make your caller feel better about needing to wait. Provide a reason for the hold (perhaps you need to confirm if the manager is on another call, or finish with a prior caller that should be wrapping up in under one minute).
The line between conversational and efficient is one your front desk team should try to maneuver with the skill of a Cirque de Soleil troupe member. It can be difficult, but it will take them from good to great.
We Don’t Realize Our Potential Until We Listen
Whether you choose to invest in a program like YT Mystery Caller or invest hours each month listening to recorded calls yourself, ensure there is a quality control system in place and, like athletes studying videos of their latest performance, give your staff the chance to analyze their performance through an objective lens in addition to teaching how to improve each month.
That first phone call is likely going to be someone’s first interaction with your practice. Do everything in your power to equip your team to put their best foot (or rather, their best voice) forward.
Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about YT Mystery Caller if you have questions!