view from the top
Going Off The
Allow staff to
use their own words to create a personal patient encounter.
much do contact lenses cost? Why so much? Do you take my insurance? Why not?" Questions
like these can rattle even the most seasoned receptionist, let alone a veteran practitioner.
Yet, they continue. Beyond throwing your hands up in disgust, how do you
handle these calls? Do you have scripts prepared for your receptionist to answer
these and other tough questions?
the answer is, "no." Our consulting company prefers a strategy different
from the oft-used phone scripts. Here are three reasons why.
1. Is that filed under S for
stigmatism or F for phone? Just setting up simple logistics of finding the correct
script or knowing which one to use are reasons enough to avoid them. If you ignore
our advice on using them in the first place, at least have the scripts accessible
as a clickable icon on your staffs' desktop computers to avoid unnecessary delays
when employees have to look them up. Also, put together a meaningful logic tree
that allows the scripts to be cross-referenced since seemingly different questions
might require similar scripts. For example, the answer to, "How much is an eye exam?"
might morph into, "Which insurance plans do you take?"
2. We've been open for 12 years
Oops, sorry, make that 14. Technology changes. Staff changes. The services you offer
change. Have your scripts changed? In our experience, probably not. We were in an
office where a newly hired receptionist read from a script that referred to a doctor
who was no longer associated with the practice!
3. Receptionists make bad actors. No
matter how skilled your phone staff is, it can't be disguised that they are reading
from a document and not delivering personalized information to the caller. This
robotic tone of voice can be a major distraction from the content of the message,
which severely dilutes its meaning.
So what do you do instead?
Concentrate on the core goals, message and sentiment
you want your staff to deliver to the caller, and have them memorize those.
For example, when a prospective patient calls and asks, "How much are contact lenses?"
the goal is (hopefully) to convert that prospect into a patient. Yes, you have to
answer the question, but if you focus too intently on the point-counterpoint
aspect of the answer, you'll miss the opportunity to convert this caller into a
patient. So, when working with your staff, set the goal of the call first, then
deal with the question.
Next, concentrate on global messages
and content instead of word-by-word scripts. For example, when asked how much contact
lenses cost, have your staff give an answer that doesn't require a script, but references
a range of fees.
Allowing staff to focus on the key
content points and goals empowers them to use words they are comfortable with instead
of reading from a script. Doing so provides a higher likelihood of the real message
being delivered and heard.
To reinforce these goals and messages, role-play
during an office meeting. Hand out an outline of the main bullet points you hope
to convey to each caller, have staff "answer a call," and include these highlights
using their own words.
To ensure compliance and make sure
your message is being accurately delivered, have friends and family "mystery call"
your office, and solicit their feedback. In particular, make sure the main
points you practiced during the role-play were delivered.
DR. GERBER IS THE
PRESIDENT OF THE POWER PRACTICE, A COMPANY SPECIALIZING
IN MAKING OPTOMETRISTS MORE PROFITABLE. LEARN
MORE AT WWW.POWERPRACTICE.COM, OR CALL DR.
GERBER AT (800) 867-9303.
Optometric Management, Issue: December 2006