By Kathy Roy Gaughran
Senior Marketing Strategist
Can your medical front desk staff handle your marketing in their “spare time?” We advise against it. Time is difficult enough to spare, and digital marketing deserves the time and attention of someone with the right marketing expertise.
Regardless, your front desk staff does play a key role in the success or failure of your digital marketing. Even the best advertising campaigns cannot succeed without the help of your front desk.
Impact on the Marketing/Sales Funnel
The front desk staff plays a crucial role in your sales and marketing “funnel.” Let’s take a look at how they factor in with your digital marketing:
We’ll use a basic sales funnel (pictured above) to represent the buyer’s journey (the patient’s journey) into your office. Here’s an example of a typical patient journey through digital marketing.
- Awareness: Casually scrolling through her Facebook feed, someone within your target demographic sees a paid advertisement for your organization.
- Consideration: Months later, she needs to schedule an appointment with a doctor. She runs a quick Google search for your specialty and finds your organization near the top of the organic or paid search results.
- Decision: The decision-making process is easy for this particular patient. She’s already familiar with your brand (since she saw an ad several weeks back). Your website is modern, and your office is just what she’s looking for.
- Purchase/Appointment Booking: She calls the front desk, nearly ready to make an appointment…until she’s left on hold. The person on the phone seems disorganized and uninformed. The prospective patient decides to explore other options.
While you could lose patients at any point in the process, it’s all too common for leads to drop during the final step. This is the stage in the funnel at which the patient is most ready to book an appointment. Any failure at this point is a critical error.
Think of it this way: A conversion rate of 20% (2 patients booked for every 10 callers) may seem decent enough. However, booking just one more patient for every 10 callers increases your gross margin by 50%
Front Desk Pitfalls and Training Opportunities
If you’re paying for digital marketing—and even if you’re not—it’s imperative your front desk staff is trained to follow up with leads appropriately.
That means consistent evaluation and training opportunities. You owe it to your staff, your patients, and your business to see that phone calls are handled properly. And a “nice” team doesn’t always cut it. Some common pitfalls:
- Rude staff, long wait times – Even the best employees can have an “off” day. Pair your digital advertising with HIPAA-compliant call tracking. That way, you can monitor calls to have meaningful discussions with employees about what does and doesn’t work.
- Too much information – Well-meaning staff members may unintentionally dole out medical advice instead of getting the patient into the doctor’s office.
- Inconsistent branding/messaging – Your brand is what sets you apart. Unfortunately, the front desk is often the last to know when branding messages shift, which creates inconsistency in the patient journey.
It takes more than a positive attitude. As we say time and time again: Medicine is a profession. Healthcare is a business. To see your business grow and thrive, you’ll have to spend time finding consistency between your marketing and front desk.
The success of your marketing depends on the politeness and tenacity of your staff. But it also depends on key staff members familiarizing themselves with your message. This includes the messaging used throughout your website and digital marketing. Consistent messaging throughout the marketing and sales funnel offers peace of mind to prospective patients.
For example, patients expect the front desk staff to be familiar with any special offers or pricing mentioned on your website. They also want to hear that your staff is familiar with the services described on your website and your advertising. That’s why it’s crucial that any changes are immediately reported to both the digital marketing team and the front desk.
In addition, the branding from your staff’s tone, message, and information should reflect your branding. Your brand is what makes you unique. Your staff should be ready to tell someone at a moment’s notice what it is that sets you apart.
If your marketing touts your doctor’s expertise, the staff should be able to recite (or quickly look up) the doctor’s key qualifications. If your website mentions convenient appointment times, the latest technology, a relaxing environment, etc., the staff should be able to speak to these, too.
As long as your digital marketing is handled properly, a well-trained, well-informed front desk should have few problems getting people into the office.