If you Google “why are medical receptionists…”, the first search suggestion that comes up is “so rude”. All around the world, doctors’ office staff have a reputation for being unfriendly, uncaring, and ill-humoured. But if you’re running a medical practice of any sort, you know that your patients’ experience starts from the very first moment they walk through the door or call to make an appointment. And if your patients are greeted by unfriendly staff, this could make them avoid your office the next time they need assistance.
But there are plenty of valid reasons that can explain your receptionist’s sour expression. Working in a medical environment can be physically and emotionally taxing. On a normal day, your staff could have to face patients in vulnerable situations, angry relatives, and an excessive workflow.
Your receptionist is also the first person that meets patients, and they have to deal with complaints and enquiries all day. That doesn’t make it okay to be unfriendly or rude to customers, but it does make it easier to understand. Doctors’ offices can handle many patients each day, and it’s easy for your staff to feel overworked and exhausted.
If you notice that your staff is being unfriendly, or you get complaints from your patients, it’s time to take action. The first thing you need to do is talk to your staff and figure out what’s gone wrong. In all likelihood, you’ll discover that they never meant to offer poor customer service or cause distress to your patients. They’re probably simply feeling the effects of being tasked with more things than they can possibly handle.
Take note of your office’s usual workflow. You might find that while your receptionist has to handle all the incoming patients, they also have to find time to answer a constantly-ringing phone. Add in some paperwork and bill collection, and you have the perfect recipe for overworked and grumpy staff.
But once your patients – and potential customers – are greeted in a rude or unfriendly manner by any of your staff, their experience turns into a negative one. Regardless of the reason that has caused this unfriendliness, the patient simply knows that they’re being treated poorly. They haven’t even met with you yet, but the chances that they’ll come back have already gone down. That’s the power of first impressions. Once you’ve determined what the problem is, you’ll be able to find a solution that works for you, your patients, and your staff. This is where medical answering services come into play.
A medical answering service is a resource you can easily outsource. They’ll be able to provide a virtual assistant or receptionist for your office. Contrary to what many people think, the operators that work for answering services are highly skilled and trained to handle many situations.
You can customize the services that you need from your virtual receptionists. Maybe you have determined which are the busiest hours in your office, and you only need to lighten the workload during that period. Or perhaps you need to relieve your on-site staff from scheduling tasks, freeing them up to welcome your patients in person.
Some medical offices use virtual receptionists to collect bills or contact providers, as well. Or you might want to use their services to keep an open line of communication with their patients 24/7, or during the holidays. They’re also able to refer calls to a member of your on-site staff or even yourself, depending on your instructions.
Regardless of the way you choose to use a medical answering service, they’ll be able to take a huge weight off your on-site staff. Additionally, you’ll be ensuring that each patient is greeted by a friendly, professional, and knowledgeable voice that can answer their concerns or book appointments. This will provide a positive customer experience for your patients from the moment when they first decide to call your office.
Having a virtual receptionist schedule your appointments can also improve your business’ profits. Your new receptionist will be able to make sure that all your office hours are booked effectively to maximize efficiency. And to top it off, you’ll save on staff training costs! Once your on-site staff has been relieved from these tasks, they’ll be in a better position to deal with incoming patients. They’ll be able to handle each patient more closely and provide great customer service to everyone. So now, your patients will hear a friendly voice on the phone and later find friendly staff at your office.
Without so much weight on their shoulders, you’ll find that they’re much more eager to offer a great customer experience from beginning to end, increasing your patients’ satisfaction and the likelihood that they’ll come back to your practice in the future.