Top 10 mistakes your front desk could be making

June 19, 2014

A relatable, helpful and professional front desk staff is one key to practice success, according to Laurie Mercier, a practice consultant with Allergan Practice Consulting who spoke at the 2014 Vegas Cosmetic Surgery meeting recently.

A relatable, helpful and professional front desk staff is one key to practice success, according to Laurie Mercier, a practice consultant with Allergan Practice Consulting who spoke at the 2014 Vegas Cosmetic Surgery meeting recently.

“Your most competitive advantage is customer service, and that begins at the front desk,” Ms. Mercier said. “That front desk person holds so much power in creating a positive or negative experience,” so it’s really important that these staff members understand this and are well trained to perform their roles.

Citing statistics that report 75 to 90 percent of patients make initial contact with your front desk personnel and that people decide whether they like you or not within the first 15 seconds, Ms. Mercier underscored the critical role the front desk personnel play in bringing in patients and ultimately impacting your revenue.

Next:  10 mistakes that front desk personnel can make

 

 

 

Ms. Mercier noted 10 mistakes that front desk personnel can make:

  • Not answering the telephone within one to two rings

  • Not giving their name or the pratice’s name when answering

  • Not asking for and using the patient’s name

  • Putting callers on hold without asking permission

  • Not asking how callers or prospective customers have heard about the practice

  • Not asking questions, and quoting price too early

  • Not explaining what makes your practice unique

  • Not greeting patients with a warm and welcome invitation when they arrive

  • Not recognizing that patients are listening and watching you

  • Not delivering excellent customer service

A huge area of opportunity for physicians to train office staff is in the practice of asking a caller for his or her name. Ms. Mercier noted that in a database of 8,000 practices the company works with, survey data showed that 83 percent of practices did not ask for a patient’s or prospective patient’s name when answering the phone.

This simple act often “sets the tone for rapport building, it helps with scheduling because now we’re on a first name basis, and I would even argue that it would decrease your no-shows because that patient and that receptionist have created a rapport,” she told the doctors.

Another number she cited was that 87 percent of practices aren’t asking prospective patients how they heard about the practice. As well as being an ice-breaker question for helping to build rapport, she said this is critical in your marketing efforts to know what made your phone ring so you can track the success of your marketing dollars.

It’s not ideal to set yourself apart based on price, she told the audience. There will always be someone who can undercut your price. Where you can differentiate is through what makes you different then other practices in the area, the services you offer, and that starts with your patient-facing staff, Ms. Mercier said.

“It’s important to realize that every patient encounter or inquiry is an opportunity to bring in revenue,” she said. “The entire staff should be truly committed to excellent customer service.”

Read more of our VCS 2014 coverage