Does your practice make an impression that will last forever? First impressions can literally make or break a practice. When thinking of first impressions, the primary focus is commonly on the initial face-to-face contact.
By the time the patient is seen the impression has already has been made and could take effort to change if the initial experiences were less than desirable.
It costs approximately three to five times as much for new patient business as it does to hold onto existing patients. With this being said, what are ways practices can ensure they are providing the level of care that will leave their patients awed? Let’s take a look at a few basics.
The telephone is commonly the first impression a patient will have with a practice. How does the person answer the phone when your patients are calling? Does he or she use the appropriate tone, grammar, and speed? The tone and speed should be dependent upon the patient. If you are scheduling an appointment for a busy professional the tone and speed should not be the same as it is for the 80-year-old grandmother. One of the most effective methods of training is role playing and providing appropriate scripts. There are many great customer service and sales training materials that are great resources in assisting with improving your team’s telephone skills.
The practice should have scripts created for all of the most common situations. These areas would vary by practice or specialty but can be created very easily. Some example scripts could include: directions to the office, payment expectations, and what is needed before the patient is seen. If you are unsure what is needed in your practice, just sit back and listen. What are the most common areas your staff has to discuss on a regular basis? Once staff has had the ability to memorize the scripts the words will become second nature. This alleviates staff using slang or improper grammar, and more importantly gives that desired great first impression.
Knowing and Informing
Take a few additional minutes during a patient’s visit to review common practices and answer questions. The world of healthcare is like the abyss to many patients. It is unknown and the unknown is scary. Most of our patients do not understand their financial responsibility or other items such as referrals or pre-authorizations. By taking time and explaining at a level they can understand, you’ll find patients will appreciate your clinic and talk about it to co-workers or family members.
Follow up for Feedback
There are many different resources today for practices to acquire feedback on their level of service. When looking for feedback be certain to not only ask the right questions but use the feedback you have been provided. A great feedback tool example is online surveys, which allow a practice to customize the questions and analyze the results. These surveys can be e-mailed to patients or the practice can provide a link via a handout or on their website. The survey tool will then quantify the information for the practice, providing data and graphs if needed.