Whether you have a dedicated call center or a single person responsible for scheduling new patients, there are important details to consider when it comes to the best way to handle incoming calls. Here are 5 tips on how to make sure that your scheduling department is set up to succeed.

Good customer service needs to be taught – often.

Customer service training shouldn’t be something that only happens when a new employee joins your medical practice. Regular in-service training for the whole team will emphasize just how important providing good customer service is for attracting and retaining patients. When building your training program, consider how the training will be implemented. Having your staff run through a webinar will not have the same impact as an interactive training program that includes tone and role-playing exercises.

Making sure that your staff understands the challenges they may face when speaking to patients is a major component of teaching them good customer service. At times they may be speaking to patients that are highly emotional, confused, scared or angry. Learning skills on how to effectively communicate with someone in distress will allow your scheduling staff to steer the conversation in a positive direction and help make the patient feel more comfortable.

When on the phone with a patient, your scheduling staff should be driving the conversation.

Consistency of message is extremely important, especially if you have more than one person responsible for scheduling. The last thing you want to have happen is for a new patient to call your practice at different times and get conflicting information.

Having a script prepared will help keep your message consistent and make sure that all necessary questions are asked and answered. It will also take the pressure off of the patient to feel like they need to do all of the talking, and will indicate that your staff is engaged in the conversation and not just going through the motions. Obtaining the reason for the visit is a critical step in identifying the urgency of the appointment and any specific circumstances that may need to be accounted for – especially if the patient is calling because of an auto accident or workers’ compensation injury. When your staff is in the driver’s seat, they can keep the call on track and headed toward the ultimate goal of scheduling the appointment.

Provide your scheduling staff with the appropriate office space.

It may seem obvious, but make sure that they are located in a space that is well lit, quiet, and has enough room to house all of the tools that they need to do their job effectively. Working in a loud, busy space can make it difficult for both the scheduling staff member and the patient. Hearing conversations in the background is distracting and unprofessional. Callers should not have to repeat their information because the scheduler cannot hear them, nor should the scheduler have to repeat their question for the same reason.

If possible, a dedicated workspace that is away from the waiting room and reception area is ideal. This will minimize background distractions and help your scheduling staff to obtain patient information accurately. They will also be better equipped to take down personal details and avoid violating privacy laws.

Clue your staff in on their role in converting new patients.

Are you letting your scheduling staff know about advertising initiatives? Whether it is through print, television or radio advertising, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SEM (Search Engine Marketing), or referrals, the end goal is the same – to attract new patients. Hopefully your practice will be experiencing an influx of calls, especially if you’re in the middle of a big advertising push. It will be extremely helpful for your staff to know where the extra calls are coming from and what their role is in capturing information, driving the conversation and educating potential patients on the practice.

Your scheduling department is the first interaction that patients will have with your medical practice and they need to make a good first impression. This will also be a good time to emphasize the importance of capturing “how did you find us?” information.

Keep them updated on what’s going on with the doctors and services.

Are your doctors participating in a seminar? Does your medical practice offer on-site X-ray and MRI? As someone who is involved in the day-to-day decisions for your practice, it can be easy to forget that not everyone is as tuned in as you are. Keeping your scheduling staff informed about services and events will help make them better at doing their job. Thanks to the customer service training, they’ll already be good listeners. They can use those listening skills to recognize opportunities to mention these new services and events. Keeping them updated on the medical practice will also keep them from getting caught off guard when a caller asks about a specific event or service. Your scheduling staff will be able to answer questions with confidence and authority, which will put the patient at ease.

At Points Group, we offer specialized services to help you grow your medical practice. If you are looking for advice on how to restructure and train your scheduling department, contact us.

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