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Is Your Front Office a “Desk of Death” for New Business?

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

new busines phone callAbout 90 percent of practices and healthcare organizations lose new business opportunity, and money when they answer the phone. That makes the front desk the second most critical job in any doctor’s office.

Of course, the top job under your roof is that of the provider or providers. But the front desk is the vital connecting point between the practice and new business opportunities.

Office operations underestimate the importance of this job, so the damaging dilemma goes unnoticed. But the trouble is: By default or by neglect, the “extremely nice front-desk person” might be operating a desk of death for new business.

Here are some of the dangers, pitfalls and problems that inadvertently, could be costing you thousands of dollars in revenue.

The TMI Distraction: This is when the helpful person is too helpful over the phone with prospective patients. Providing too much information (TMI) is giving medical advice. Although well meaning, answering phone questions in detail becomes a business barrier.

It’s good to be friendly, but the primary objective is to book a convenient office appointment where all the questions can be answered, and services provided, by a medical professional.

The Unaware and Unprepared “Nice Person”: The qualifications for someone to answer the phone in a busy medical office include more than being (a) a “nice person” with a pleasant voice, and/or (b) “whoever is available” ’cause “anyone can do that job.”

What’s absent is the preparation and training to convert inbound calls to meaningful, new patient appointments. The front desk needs to know how and why marketing and advertising are causing the phone to ring. In this situation, the front desk (the nice person) didn’t know how to recognize and handle the sales opportunity. Blowing away an average case size of $5,000 is a major loss with each mishandled phone call.

The three essentials…

There are only a few transition steps from the first call to the first appointment. With each inbound call, the front desk needs to:

Track the call. Office operations and good marketing need to know the source. For example, is the call attributed to an advertisement or a referral?

Book an appointment. An in-office appointment is the best environment and the most helpful assurance for a prospective patient. It takes training to direct the conversation into an early and convenient appointment.

Reinforce their decision. Provide the caller with information that supports the choice of doctor and the appointment decision.

Often, it’s the conversion rate…

Staff training to convert inbound inquiries to office appointments is the difference. For example, if a practice converts two out of 10 calls as compared to converting three out of 10, it doesn’t seem like much of a difference. But this simple step-up in the phone conversion rate can produce a whopping 50 percent greater gross margin.

When prospective new business never moves from call to appointment, the opportunity dies at the front desk. If you’d like help with staff training, and closing the infamous desk of death for new business, please give us a call at 800-656-0907.

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