As a consumer yourself, you’ve no doubt encountered the seemingly ubiquitous automated messages or voicemail options some companies provide to their customers. Think about recent experiences you’ve had with such services. Would you rate them as positive? Did they improve your view of the company in question? Or did they make you want to pull your hair out in frustration?
Anyone who’s had to sift through options in an automated system can attest to the fact that the experience is frustrating, to say the least. Or what if all you get is a voicemail that doesn’t give you enough time to relate pertinent information?
When customers encounter these setbacks, they may consider their interactions with your office to be negative, and when you think about it, you can probably understand where they’re coming from. So why haven’t you made a change?
24/7 call center services are a necessity for healthcare providers that want to ensure the best possible care for patients. Whereas calling a doctor and reaching voicemail can be a real turn-off for patients, the ability to speak to someone who can address questions and concerns is likely to be a relief for patients in possible medical distress.
Think of it this way: if patients didn’t have serious health concerns to discuss, they’d wait to call during business hours. When they call after hours, the situation is probably pretty serious, or at least, there is enough concern to require the assistance of a medical professional. You don’t want to leave your patients hanging.
It’s time to embrace the idea that voicemail is not providing the positive patient interactions you want for your business. In fact, getting rid of voicemail in favor of a round-the-clock answering service could be a major boon for your medical practice. Here are a few reasons to make the switch immediately.
Voicemail is Annoying
Answering machines used to be the best way to let someone know you called when they weren’t home, or simply weren’t answering the phone. Times have certainly changed. These days, many people don’t even bother to check their voicemail. When they see a missed call, they simply call back or text to find out the content of the voicemail.
As a result, 80% of people don’t even bother to leave a message, according to Forbes, because they believe it will never be heard. A survey conducted by Nuance Communications and Research Now found that 95% of those polled would rather use text messaging than leave a voicemail.
The point is that voicemail has become largely obsolete, and reaching an answering machine message is more of an annoyance than anything, especially considering the other options available these days. To be honest, automated systems aren’t much better, but at least they present the possibility of offering immediate assistance, or possibly even an operator at the end, if the automated options presented don’t meet a caller’s needs.
With a 24/7 call center to answer when your office is closed or even during business hours when your own phone systems are overloaded by high call volume, you don’t have to risk patients hanging up and potentially suffering when they encounter voicemail. You can ensure that every patient speaks to a live person and gets some form of help.
Medical Emergencies Don’t Wait for Business Hours
It is especially important for a medical practice that patients are able to get through to a live person, even outside of business hours. Medical issues can occur at any time of day or night, and when a patient in distress reaches voicemail, the results could be catastrophic.
The professionals at an answering service may not be able to offer the same advice as a doctor, but they can gather information and determine whether a patient can wait for a call-back during business hours, if they should be put through to an on-call doctor, or if they need to hang up and go to the emergency room.
As a doctor, you have an obligation to provide your patients with the best possible care, but you don’t have to give up your personal life in the process. What you cannot afford to do is provide a voicemail that calls upon patients to decide whether they need to go to the emergency room or not.
What if they make the wrong decision? What if you could have prevented dire circumstances by hiring professionals to pick up the phone and properly direct patients on the best course of action? With a 24/7 call center on the job to field after-hours and overflow calls, you’ll never have to wonder if you could have done something different and perhaps saved a life.
Patients Want Comfort and Care
There are clear-cut circumstances in which patients know they need a trip to the emergency room, or alternately, that they can tough it out and talk to a doctor in the morning. Then there are cases in which patients simply aren’t sure what to do because they’re not medical professionals. In these instances, patients need help, and they want the comfort and care of reliable and trusted medical advice.
This is why they call your office in the middle of the night. A 24/7 answering service is separate from your staff, but operators can still speak with authority and determine how best to route calls or direct patients to seek appropriate care. This will not only help to assure patient safety, but offer the psychological relief that comes with a trusted medical opinion.
As a doctor, caring for patients is your primary concern. However, you can’t afford to ignore the bottom line if you want to keep your practice open. Veering away from voicemail comes with a price, but it’s minimal compared to what you stand to gain.
A doctor that isn’t available when patients need help could quickly lose clientele and earn a bad reputation. This could cost you a lot more than the pittance of hiring a call center. When you choose to eschew voicemail in favor of a 24/7 answering service you stand to keep patients happy, ensure the best possible care, and ultimately, increase referrals and earnings in the process. That’s a fantastic return on your investment.