Whether you’re a solo health and beauty practitioner running your own mobile clinic, or are part of a group practice, call answering is a challenge that expands the entire health, beauty and medical sector.
Online bookings and live chat might have taken over many sectors when it comes to making appointments or buying products.
But because health, beauty and medical services are inherently more personal, patients prefer to make appointments in person – over the phone.
This makes call answering a critical function of any medical office or health clinic.
But call answering is a time consuming task.
Especially when you’re running a solo practice and trying to organise everything on your own.
Being available to answer every call is impossible.
You might already be on the phone to another patient.
You could be in an appointment and can’t walk away or stop a treatment to answer the phone.
Or the call might come out of hours.
This creates a problem.
Missing even a single call creates the potential to miss out on a sale.
And when you’re looking at revenue nearing £3,000 a week – which is what a solo aesthetic nurse can make – every call counts.
But it’s not just the immediate lost revenue.
Looking long-term, if you get a reputation for poor customer service and not answering calls, this will negatively affect your business too.
So how do you deal with call answering in a health clinic?
Whenever a customer calls your clinic and you don’t pick up, one of three things will happen:
- They’ll hang up and try again later
- They’ll leave a message and wait for you to get back to them
- They’ll try another clinic until someone picks up
Now in the past, when customers had fewer options, they might choose the first or second option.
But today, customers are spoilt for choice when it comes to products and services.
So if you don’t pick up the phone when they call, they’re much likelier to move on to another provider.
Plus, with customer experience playing such a big role in customer loyalty today, you won’t just miss out on the immediate sale.
You’ll miss out on future business.
That’s because customers who get a good experience from a business are more likely to stay loyal to that company.
In fact 96% of customers say good customer service is important when it comes to their loyalty to a business or brand.
Understanding the importance of modern customer service
In the last few years customer service has become a deciding factor in which business a customer will go to.
Arguably the customer experience has replaced the old selling points of price and product as the thing customers focus on.
Customers have nearly unlimited choice on products and suppliers.
And those suppliers don’t want to get into a race to the bottom on price.
So customer service and the buying experience is the only thing left as a point of differentiation.
Which explains why two-thirds of companies say they’re now competing on customer experience, compared to 36% in 2010.
And why companies which win the customer service battle outperform the competition by about 80%.
There’s more about the important factors to consider for your medical clinic’s call answering in this blog.
What makes the best customer service?
So with an understanding why customer service is so important, what do customers look for?
You might think modern customer service is complicated.
That it’s a complex maze of matching the customer journey with different technology.
But customers value simple things.
And among the top things is fast, efficient and helpful human communication.
Essentially, just being there when they need you.
The vast majority (83%) of customers say if companies provided a better live or in-person customer service they’d be more likely to do business with them – according to a study by Accenture.
And 30% say not being able to reach a real human is the most frustrating part of a bad customer service experience – according to Microsoft.
Both these studies point to one very simple thing when it comes to customer service.
Customers prefer being able to talk to people, and expect businesses to pick up the phone when they call.
So despite all the new technologies available, call answering remains top of the list of priorities for customer communication.
Call answering in a medical office
When you’re thinking about call answering in your health clinic, you’re probably thinking about two options:
- You could deal with all the calls yourself (after all why spend money on someone to answer the phone?)
- Hire a full-time or part-time receptionist to deal with calls for you
Both of these are valid options.
But they also don’t solve many of the call answering problems you have.
Trying to answer calls yourself
Whether you’re running a solo practice or a group practice, you have a lot of things to juggle in your day.
Not even looking at your actual appointment calendar (with appointments lasting at least 30 minutes) you’ve got all your business administration to deal with.
Whether it’s diary management, marketing your business, dealing with costs, expenses and taxes, travelling between appointments, networking and finding suppliers – you have a lot on your plate.
And in the midst of all that, you’re trying to answer the phone to current customers and new enquiries.
As much as you might want to, you can’t be available all the time with so much to do.
Hiring a receptionist
So having struggled to manage call handling single-handedly, many business owners then opt for a receptionist to handle calls for them.
But this, again, has its own inefficiencies.
For one it requires you to have a fixed office for your receptionist.
If you’re a mobile clinic this isn’t likely to be an option.
Even if you have an office, a receptionist still doesn’t answer many of your call answering challenges.
Yes, they’ll be available to answer the phone when it rings.
But only one call at a time.
And any busy clinic knows that calls very rarely come in one at a time.
So when the second call comes in, it will either go to voicemail – which doesn’t solve the problem with your call answering.
Or you’ll have to pick up the phone – which defies the point of having a receptionist in the first place.
Even if your receptionist was able to deal with multiple calls at once, there’s a lot of costs and admin that comes with hiring staff.
First, you have the issue of what happens when your receptionist is on a break, goes to lunch, goes to the loo, or goes to make a cup of tea.
If the phone rings now, they’re not available.
But you’re still paying their wages despite not getting the service.
And what happens when they go on holiday?
Or have a day-off sick?
Now you have to either answer the phone yourself, or pay for a temporary member of staff – which is another cost.
Not to mention the admin of having staff, including dealing with holiday and sick pay, tax, annual leave, pensions.
This admin could easily take up more time that pulls you away from patients – which is the opposite of what hiring the receptionist was meant to do.
So what’s the other option?
Invest in a healthcare answering service
A healthcare answering service can make a significant impact on your clinic.
As well as plugging your call answering gaps and improving your customer service, it can help free up more of your time to spend on patients by taking over your diary management and appointment booking.
But before we get too much into the benefits of a call answering service for your health clinic, let’s make sure we’re talking about the same thing.
What is a healthcare call answering service?
A healthcare call answering service is a remote team of specialist virtual receptionists who will deal with your calls, take messages, transfer calls to the right people and help you manage your day.
But instead of working from your office, they work remotely.
This isn’t the same as a call centre service.
Call centre answering services only offer a generic answering and message taking service.
Which, when you’re trying to provide a personal answer service to patients, isn’t going to work.
So now we know what your healthcare call answering service is, here’s a few ways a call answering service for a medical clinic can improve your business:
No more missed calls
Because your call answering service is manned by a team of virtual receptionists (led by a receptionist specialising in the health sector) you’ll always have someone available to answer the phone during your business hours.
This means no matter how busy you get, you’ll never need to worry about missing a call or losing a booking.
If patients need to contact you urgently, you can still have emergency calls directed to your phone.
Make you more efficient
Without worrying that you’re missing calls and losing bookings, you can free up more time to spend with patients and deliver a better service.
You can also make better use of your time, like working on your clinic, rather than constantly working in it.
This means you’ll be able to deal with more patients and generate more revenue.
Become more profitable
Because you’ve got more time to bring in revenue and work on your business, you’ll be able to plan more efficiently and figure out ways to streamline your processes to make your clinic more profitable.
Create customer services your patients want
We’ve already covered the importance customers put on human-to-human communication.
With a specialist healthcare call answering service behind you, you’ll know your patients and customers are being dealt with professionally and personably at all times.
Extend your clinic’s opening hours
While you could only want your clinic hours to run between 9-5, patients might not be able to book appointments with you during those times.
They’re busy at work during the day.
So they might only have time in the evening to book something.
Or they might want to book something spontaneously at the weekend.
If you’re not picking the phone up when they call, it’s lost revenue.
A telephone answering service can extend your opening hours beyond the regular 9-5, so your patients have more time to contact you and book appointments.
And it does all this while protecting your personal time.
Save you money
The cost of a full-time receptionist – especially one with the skills to work in a healthcare environment – can be north of £30,000 a year.
And you pay that regardless of whether your receptionist is available to answer the phone.
With a call answering service, you only pay for the time you use.
You can easily scale your level of call answering up and down depending on how busy you are.
You can also adapt the service around your own preferences.
This way, you can invest in call answering to manage all of your incoming calls, or just use the service to handle any overspill during busy periods.
Screen sales calls
Along with everything else you have to manage in your day, dealing with unsolicited sales calls is a chore you can do without.
Your healthcare call answering service can act as a barrier between you and these sales calls so you don’t have to deal with them.
You can also arrange for your call answering service to block these calls and have you removed from unwanted lists.
Manage your bookings
If you’re dealing with calls while travelling between appointments, you might not always have access to your diary when taking bookings.
It can be all too easy to double book yourself when you’re busy.
Your virtual receptionist can solve this by taking all your bookings and managing your diary for you.
By syncing your diary to your client portal, you’ll never need to worry about accidentally double booking yourself.
Your calendar will be updated in real-time and appointments made around your designated operating hours.
How to make healthcare call answering work in your business
When integrated and managed properly, your telephone answering and virtual assistant service works as an extension of your clinic.
As far as any patient is concerned, when they speak to your virtual receptionist, they’re speaking directly to your clinic.
Bringing in a telephone answering service is a simple process, but there’s a few things you’ll need to think about.
How will your receptionists deal with your calls?
When a call comes in, how it’s dealt with is just as important as picking up the phone.
You should spend some time with your virtual receptionist so they understand how you want calls to be dealt with.
If you’ve invested in a specialist healthcare call answering service, your new team will have experience dealing with common enquiries.
But providing them with any scripts or instructions can make the process smoother.
Make sure your clinic understands the process
If you’re a solo practitioner you don’t have to worry about this because you’ll know what’s happening.
But if you work in a group practice, make sure everyone knows about the service you’re using and how this will impact the calls coming in and the information they’ll be getting from your call answering service.
This could include regularly checking your client portal for updates, or understanding what calls members of your team want sent directly to them.
Use your call answering service as a partner
A key part of integrating your call answering service into your clinic is working with them and ensuring you’re providing feedback on the way calls are being handled.
If you want changes to be made in the way calls are handled, or which type of calls are handled, communication with your virtual receptionists will make this a lot easier and avoid any confusion.
Review your call answering to refine the service
At Pulse by Face For Business, we provide you with the full recordings of all your incoming calls dealt with by our virtual receptionists.
You can review exactly how we’re dealing with calls.
You can also use your client portal to review how the service is operating and your call volumes.
This helps you identify any spikes in call answering throughout the year.
With this information you can constantly adapt and improve your call answering to get the most out of your investment.
How to choose the right health clinic answering service
Before diving into a call answering service for your health clinic, there’s a few things you’ll need to think about.
Do they specialise in call answering for the health sector?
The health sector is a very specialist area.
Many patients will be calling you with private or sensitive enquiries.
You’ll need a call answering service which understands the need for discretion and has experience handling the kind of calls your clinic will receive on a regular basis.
Review your potential call answering service to see if they do specialise, or if they only offer generic call answering.
Do they provide proof of the way they’re dealing with your calls
Most call answering services will tell you they deal with calls professionally and personally.
But can they prove it?
Do they give you full call recordings so you can review exactly how they’re dealing with your incoming calls?
For the record, at Pulse by Face For Business, we do provide you with access to your full recordings.
Do they offer additional services for your clinic?
If you just want a call answering service, then that’s all you need to worry about.
But what do you do later when you’re making use of all your free time and additional income to drive more business and you get busier?
Now you might need help with diary management, appointment booking and maybe even live chat if you have a website.
If your call answering service doesn’t offer these services, it means splitting your customer service across two providers, or starting everything over again with a new provider.
You should look for a health clinic call answering service that also offers these additional services.
You might not need them straight away, but you never know what you’ll need in the future.
Can they extend your opening hours?
One of the main benefits of investing in a call answering service is that they can extend your call answering facility beyond the regular 9-5.
But not all call answering services offer extended hours.
So make sure you check before signing up to a service that limits you.
What communication do they provide you with?
If your call answering service is simply taking messages and emailing them to you, you risk messages getting lost in your spam folder or within the hundreds of other emails you get.
Ideally you should have access to a dedicated client portal where all your information, messages and notifications are sent to you to access whenever you want.
Not only does this help with communication, it helps with security as only authorised personnel have access to your portal.
How does their pricing work?
The pricing model your call answering service uses will go a long way to figuring out whether it’s worth the investment down the line.
For example, do they charge a flat fee on whichever services you invest in?
Do they charge by the call – regardless of how long that call lasts?
Or do they charge by the second – so you only pay for the call answering service you use?
Before you sign up to anything, make sure you understand exactly what you’ll be paying and what you’ll be paying for.
It will help avoid any unexpected charges.
Do they charge you for cancelling early?
In the same vein as pricing, will your call answering service charge you a fee if you try to leave before the end of any fixed term?
The last thing you want is to invest in a service you later find isn’t helping and then be locked into paying for another nine months.
How simple is it to scale your level of call answering?
When you invest in call answering you might quickly find you need more support than you thought.
Or you might notice a drop off in calls at certain times of the year.
Does your healthcare call answering let you scale your level of service up and down based on your demand? Or are you stuck with a fixed level of service?
For the record, at Pulse by Face For Business, if you let us know you want to change your service levels, just let us know the month before we issue your invoice and we’ll change it.
How can a healthcare call answering service from Pulse by Face For Business help your clinic?
Pulse by Face For Business is a dedicated, specialist call answering and virtual receptionist service specifically for the health and medical sector.
We provide professional call answering for UK clinics and solo practitioners, helping them create a human-to-human focussed level of customer care and support.
Our health specialist clients come to us because they know we provide a sensitive, reliable and cost-effective call answering and receptionist service that makes running their business easier and more profitable.
We work with clients across a range of health, medical and aesthetic procedure sectors, including:
Baby Scan Clinics
What customers say about Pulse by Face For Business
“We’ve been using the services provided by Face For Business for nearly 4 years now. The team answers our calls when we’re busy in the clinic with patients and we can enjoy some welcome time off without having to rely on our callers leaving a voicemail.”
Dr S Rana – Forest Dental
“It really helps having a dedicated PA who knows our company so well, as we’ve passed on the important prices information to our PA. We are finding that we’re capturing more clients this way, and the calls are handled excellently.”
Get in touch with Pulse by Face For Business
If you want to find out more about Pulse by Face For Business and how our healthcare call answering service can help your clinic, get in touch with us today.