If you run a medical clinic, your call answering and customer service are an essential part of how you operate.
How you treat people when they call to book an appointment, or make an enquiry, says a lot about your practice’s priorities.
It can set the tone for leaving patients happy or frustrated with your service.
It doesn’t matter how good the medical treatment is, if a patient feels the customer service has been poor, they’re more likely to leave unhappy with your clinic.
Customer service starts from the first point of contact you have with a patient.
No matter if they call on the phone, walk through the door, or use an online message service.
Especially today, with patients nervous about returning to see clinicians or attend appointments in person, you need to put extra focus on your customer service to help put them at ease.
So what makes up good customer service and call answering in a medical clinic?
Answering calls professionally
Having a professional call answering service is critical for setting the right tone for patients.
Just as a friendly face when they walk through the door is reassuring, so too is a professional, calm voice on the end of the phone.
But your call answering isn’t just for patients who call you, it can also create the right atmosphere in your clinic.
If you’re a patient in a waiting room and you’re constantly listening to the phone going unanswered, it’s not going to create the best impression.
Nor is watching staff run around trying to get to the phone in between other work.
After all, if you can’t do something simple like organise for the phone to be answered, how professional are you in other aspects of the business?
Being patient with your patients
Many clinics (and businesses for that matter) rely on staff to answer the phone even though they’re also concentrating on other jobs.
This could be seeing patients for minor treatments, or organising medications or retrieving patient files for follow-up treatments.
When the phone rings and they’re busy, it’s easy to treat the call like a distraction, rather than an important part of your customer service.
And rushing a patient on the phone, or making them feel like they’re getting in the way of your job, is a sure way to turn them off.
And if you’re a private clinic and they’re paying for your service, you risk losing them to someone else.
You need a call answering service that can deal with patients properly, ensuring you get all the information you need while ensuring patients feel valued and reassured.
Make sure you’re people orientated
Is there anything worse than calling a clinic only to be ‘greeted’ by an automated, robotic voice asking us to click one for this or dial two for that?
Especially if the call is for something of a sensitive nature.
Putting people behind your call answering is critical in any kind of medical practice.
Having a real voice on the end of the phone can help put patients at ease.
It can reassure them that you do see them as people and not a number on an automated “customer journey”.
The key to successful call answering in a health clinic
One way to deal with call answering and customer service in a clinic is to hire someone, either full-time or part-time.
But this can cause it’s own problems.
For one, it’s expensive.
A full-time receptionist with the skills and experience to work in a health clinic can cost upwards of £30,000 a year.
Plus, you’ll likely need to hire more than one receptionist to cover illnesses or holidays.
And what happens when your receptionist goes on a break?
Patients will still call and you’re now paying for call answering support you’re not getting.
How outsourced call handling can improve your health practice
The other option is to outsource your call handling to a specialist provider.
This way you’ll always have the call answering service you need to deal with incoming calls professionally.
We’ve already touched on the importance of making the right impression with your professionalism.
But it’s something that can’t be underestimated.
In a health setting, when patients need a calming environment, the last thing they want is to sit in a waiting room watching flustered staff try and get to the phone, or sounding stressed while they deal with phone enquiries.
Similarly, if you offer treatments via home visits or through mobile clinics, you can’t rely on staff being able to answer the phone when they’re travelling or with patients.
In these circumstances you need a single, centralised call answering service that can deal with incoming enquiries professionally and patiently.
This could be anything from booking new appointments, to patients trying to change appointments.
How poor handling can ruin your reputation
If you’re a private clinic, then customer service is arguably more important than if you’re a GP or providing services via the NHS.
Your patients aren’t just limited to you as the service provider.
If they don’t like your customer service, they could easily go and find another provider.
If you’re providing treatments that cost a few hundred pounds – or thousands – losing just a couple of patients can have a serious impact on your bottom line.
You need a call answering service in place that handles all calls quickly and professionally.
Not only taking messages, but one that can also get the right information to the right people and even help you take payments over the phone or help to organise your diary and appointments.
Getting specialist call answering services from Pulse by Face For Business
One of the things with call answering in a health setting is that you’ll be dealing with confidential or sensitive information on a regular basis.
So you need a call answering service that can handle these kinds of enquiries.
A call centre service just won’t work.
At Pulse by Face For Business we’ve got a team of specialist call answering professionals with experience in the health sector.
They can take on your call answering as an extension of your business and help you provide the high level of service your patients expect.