Why Mishandled Phone Calls Can Sabotage Your Practice

Patrick DeHeer DPM FACFAS

Do you know what the most important thing in your office? The answer may surprise you. It is not you. It is your phones and how your staff is answering them.

Just think about it for a minute. If you have no patients calling in for appointments or patients who do call but are not scheduled, then it does not matter how great of a physician you are. To quote an old famous saying, “You have to put fannies in the seats.”

Accordingly, it is crucial how your staff handles new patient calls, especially when you consider that in podiatry, each new patient generates between $1,000 and $2,000 for your practice. That is money that may never come through the door because of a botched handling of the initial call.

I love my staff. They are a pleasure to work with and go above and beyond the call of duty for me. I am sure most of you feel the same way about your staff but have you ever listened to your staff’s interaction on a new patient call?

Do you even have any idea how your staff should handle a new patient call and why? I know I did not until Jay Geier and his company the Scheduling Institute did a test call on my staff and sent me the results for what they call “The Five Star Challenge.” My staff graded out to a 0. However, I thought to myself that maybe this was not a fair test of them so I listened to the call myself. I was shocked at how poorly the experienced staff member from my office dealt with the call.

The Scheduling Institute (www.schedulinginstitute.com ) evaluates five components of each call and then grades the call with 5 being the best and 0 the worst. To become certified, the staff member must grade out a 4 or 5. There is an extensive training program with “mystery calls” that follow completion of the training. Jay has had a very long and successful history in the dental and chiropractic fields, and now is starting to enter the podiatric field and other medical specialties.

I am a paying member of The Scheduling Institute for several of its products and services, and I am not receiving any type of compensation for my opinions voiced in this blog. I am sharing this with you because I am amazed about how poorly we handled our calls and I know there are many of you who would also be shocked at how your calls are being handled or, should I say, not being handled.

My staff has gone through the training but none could become certified on their initial test calls. They receive a copy of the call with the grading and commentary on their performance. It is difficult to become certified and often takes more than one test call to achieve a 4 or 5 star rating. I think this is so important that I have decided to have a trainer from The Scheduling Institute come to my office for on-site training to help my staff get certified. Once a member is certified, there are ongoing “mystery calls” and follow ratings to make sure they are not reverting back to prior habits.

Instead of guessing about your staff and the phones, take Jay’s “Five Star Challenge” and find out for yourself. Here is wishing you all as many new patients as you can handle.

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