Why Your Office Staff Can Make or Break Your Practice (and what to do about it!)
We’ve worked with hundreds of medical practices over the years and we see similar problems with office staff across every practice, no matter the location:
- Under-trained front office staff (phone skills, customer service, professionalism)
- Missed patient calls
- No phone tracking
- Under-qualified front office staff
- Mis-communication (or under-communication between the doctor & staff)
Your front office staff are the people every new patient is seeing as the “face” of your practice. They are one of the very first impressions!
With each patient potentially worth thousands of dollars to your business, medical practices need to invest the time and resources into hiring and training the best dental front office staff members.
In this article you’ll find insights and action plans you can use to avoid painfully common mistakes.
Step 1: Research Your Competition
Go online and Google doctors in your specialty within a 20 mile radius of your practice. Put together a list of 5-10 of practices with the BEST online reviews and top search results and then call each office.
When you call, pay special attention to the person who answers the phone, how they answer the phone, whether they tried booking an appointment with you and what incentives they offer to encourage potential new patients to come into the office.
Knowing how well trained your competitor’s receptionists are can help you identify where your own staff can improve.
Step 2: Adjust Your Hiring Practices
Every time you find yourself in the hiring position, let it be known that you have certain expectations for customer service and professionalism when on the phone or checking patients in and out. Let the candidate know what you office expects their front office staff to continuously improve on the following skills:
- Advanced phone training skills
- Learning how to ask patients to leave a Google review online reviews and following the office Facebook page
- Occasionally learning new technology and/or phone systems
- A basic understanding of medical procedures and treatments that you offer including the time it takes to complete them, common questions, insurance coverage and costs.
If you set the expectation that professional development and continual learning are parts of the job, it’ll be much easier to get your new employee on board.
The best part about this is setting the expectation up front, gets employees to agree to engage in these activities from the start without it feeling like any “extra” work is being asked of them.
Step 3: Create Strategies & Scripts
No one likes to feel unprepared for a job they must do and answering the phone is the primary responsibility of your practice’s front office staff.
With that in mind, put standard rules in place and provide your staff with scripts. Make sure you set aside time for employees to role play as patients so they can be confident in their new phone skills.
This will also give them a chance to ask any questions they have and help you head off common on-phone mistakes before they even happen.
Keep in mind that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. For most patients the first impression they have of your practice is your front office staff. Can you afford for them to have a negative experience?
If patients feel comfortable and well-cared for while in your office and while interacting with your front office staff, you’ll convert more to lifelong patients who continue to give you referrals for years to come.