By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
[Series Installment: How to Avoid the 7 Deadly Sins of Healthcare Marketing — Deadly Sins #5: Inadequate Training, from the Healthcare Success Educational library.]
Everyone in the office needs to understand how and why new patient inquiry calls are significantly different from the routine. Without preparation and training, seven out of 10 prospective new patient calls will result in no appointment…and no revenue.
This classic mistake—Inadequate Training—is “Deadly Sin #5,” and it can doom the best healthcare marketing and external advertising. Here’s why, and what to do to protect your advertising investment.
Consider the types of ordinary phone calls your office handles daily.
- Operational/administrative calls: The staff is skilled at answering the usual and frequently asked questions about office hours, lab results, billing matters, prescription refills and the like. Slam dunk.
- Appointment request calls: For the most part, the calls from existing or previous patients are also standard procedure; both the patient and the staff know the drill. An appointment request from an individual who has been referred to your office from another physician may be slightly different, but still a routine process.
Why advertising-response calls are vastly different…
Here’s the often-neglected secret: These callers are not “routine” and require special handling.
When your external marketing and advertising generates interest in your services, the person making their first call to you is still skeptical and hesitant to come in. In part, they’re seeking reassurance.
Unlike operational calls or routine scheduling requests, this caller has no established relationship; they are not predetermined to simply “make an appointment.” (Here’s where staff training will make or break what happens next.)
When the phone rings, the caller has not made a final decision about you, your services, your ability to answer their need. They’re considering things, perhaps they have an interest, but there is no earned or implied trust…yet. Your immediate need is to build rapport quickly.
Your staff—everyone who answers the phone—must recognize that these callers have a skeptical mindset. Unlike the usual office call or referred patient, they have questions, want reassurance, and need validation before making a first appointment.
Preparation and training in how to immediately recognize and properly handle these calls will protect your external advertising investment and produce conversions to new patient appointments. Understand that they need to be greeted as a welcome new visitor, and the first-impression conversation needs to be reassuring and inviting. Your staff needs to know exactly what has been advertised so they can understand and support the caller’s expectations. Additional time may be needed to answer questions and build rapport, and importantly, to secure the first appointment.
For more on this topic, and practical “how-to” advice, read: 5 Steps to Increased Revenue When the Phone Rings, and watch for more articles in this continuing series.
You’ll find our Deadly Sins Infographic here. And click through via this link to download our free White Paper: How to Avoid the 7 Deadly Sins of Healthcare Marketing.
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