Once you have decided to embark on training for your customer service staff, it is important that you chose a training provider who will build a comprehensive program around the areas your practice need to improve upon. The most effective way to develop a program is to couple leadership feedback with a medical secret shopper for an as-is assessment, otherwise termed an audit.

The feedback from leadership is likely the easy part – you have probably already been thinking about a few things you would like to improve upon. Perhaps, a receptionist’s greeting isn’t clearly audible over the phone. Maybe the explanation of the intake form at your front desk is not patient-friendly. You should communicate these concerns with your training team upfront. This will allow those performing your audit to know what to specifically listen for.

Now, here come’s the tricky part – weeding out the areas of improvement that you and the other managers at your practice do not pick up on. A properly executed customer service audit will expose the areas where the upcoming training can target, resulting in maximum results.

The Steps of an Audit

There are two possible ways to begin your audit:

1. Review pre-recorded calls. If you have been recording your calls, the training team will need access to those sound files. This will give them the opportunity, in essence, to pre-train. With hours of actual patient calls to listen to and dissect, they can begin to form their understanding of your level of service before taking Step 2.

2. Set up secret shoppers. If you do not have recorded calls, the team will start with this second step and make their own calls after developing several scenarios that they would like to learn from. The “auditors” or “secret shoppers” will aim to call your practice different days and times in order to speak with all of your receptionists. (This should be done without their knowledge.) Things that should be covered during these calls include basic insurance inquiries, questions about procedures the practice offers and inquiries regarding areas of specialties with the physicians. The trained ears of the secret shoppers will not only pick up on inaccuracies in the receptionist’s information, but the tone and word choice used.

Below, is a list of what secret shoppers may be listening for:

  • Is the practice name spoken clearly and did the receptionist introduce himself/herself?
  • Is the receptionist familiar with all of your office locations?
  • Did the receptionist seem distracted by activity in the background?
  • Was the caller asked politely if he/she would be willing to hold or was the caller cut off and told to “Hold, please”?
  • Did the receptionist take down the name and insurance information properly? Did he or she exercise patience if the caller was struggling?

Answering these questions and many more will help the auditors identify the specific problems that may be preventing or deterring patients from making appointments.

Once Steps 1 and 2 have been achieved, it’s time for Step 3:

3. Visit the office. In this phase, some of the secret shopper calls will translate into actual appointments. (Those dates and times will be recorded and can be sent to your billing department to prevent insurance billing.) Please note: the secret shoppers will document whether confirmation calls were made and directions were offered prior to the appointment.

On the day of the appointment, the shoppers will come to your office prepared to fill out intake paperwork and go through the full patient experience. They will note sign-in wait time, seating area cleanliness, attitude by the receptionist, and level of eagerness by your staff to answer questions and provide support. (It is recommended that even you are not aware of their visit, so the wait time to see the physician can also be recorded.)

From this, the audit team now has enough information for Step 4:

4. Compile a report and develop customized training. The team will compile a report of all of their findings and will use this to develop a basis of which to compare the results of their training. The results will determine how to develop the customized training itself. This type of audit may also provide your practice with conversion data that you can then use to measure results. Down the road, auditors can also revisit aspects of the audit to see if the training lessons were adopted by your staff and if follow-up training is necessary.

If you would like to discuss options for a secret shopper audit or potential customer service training for your staff, contact Points Group today.

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