Depending on the type of medical practice you’re running, and how many employees you have, there may be times when it seems impossible to pick up each and every phone call.
There are different reasons that can lead to an increase in the calls your office receives, from a successful marketing campaign, advertising for a new treatment, or even just the time of the year — you may receive more cosmetic-related consultations before the summer, emergency calls due to domestic accidents during the holidays, and an increased number of patients requiring appointments during the flu season.
Overflow call volume is defined as the number of phone calls that come in and can’t be handled by your on-site staff. This can be the result of having a small staff, busy schedules, or insufficient resources to handle a growing customer base.
Unanswered phone calls can result in lost revenue, poor customer satisfaction, and a poor word-of-mouth reputation. If this becomes a persistent problem for your medical office, your patients could eventually choose to seek care at a different facility. Handling overflow calls is effectively can be more complicated for small or medium-sized medical offices.
Fortunately, there’s no need to worry excessively. If you have recently noticed that handling overflow call volume is becoming a problem at your medical practice, you will be glad to discover that there is a simple and affordable way to solve this issue: a virtual answering service.
A virtual answering service works by providing your medical office with remote, professional operators who will be available to take phone calls 24/7, handle patients, transfer calls, and take messages for your staff. These services can also be customized to handle collections and providers, send out automated reminders, and take on many other responsibilities depending on your practice’s needs.
The operators who work with answering services companies receive training before being assigned to work with your practice; thus, you won’t have to worry about hiring or training new staff.
Here are some of the many different ways in which handling your overflow call volume through the use of a virtual answering service can help you improve your patients’ experience when they contact your practice:
Making sure your patients get a call back if necessary
Ideally, each patient would get all the information they need the first time they call your office. But we all know that in some cases, your staff may need to make some inquiries to be able to answer your patients’ questions correctly.
In these cases, it’s not uncommon to offer patients to call them back once you have the information they need. But if your phone lines are swamped with overflow calls, it may be difficult for your staff to make sure that they’re calling patients back as needed.
Patients that don’t receive calls back may not wish to return to your office or continue to call to make enquiries. But a virtual answering service can handle this responsibility, guaranteeing that whenever a patient requires a call back, they will receive it and get the information that they need.
Keeping your schedule updated and efficient
If your staff is unable to pick up all the phone calls you receive, you may be missing calls from patients who need to cancel or modify their appointments. Without this information, it may be difficult for your practice to maintain an updated schedule, leaving unproductive gaps in your timetable.
Missed appointments may not seem like a big deal; however, they represent a lost opportunity to assign time slots to different patients, and they can have a significant impact on your waiting list. These idle hours will also cost you money — a single missed appointment probably won’t affect your bottom line, but these instances can quickly add up.
But an answering service can make it easier for your patients to cancel and reschedule appointments, keeping your schedule updated and allowing you to shorten your wait lists.
Improving your medical practice’s image and reputation through better customer service
If patients know that it’s easy to communicate with your practice — whether they need to make inquiries, schedule appointments, or ask follow up questions —, it will be more likely for them to have a positive experience at your office.
Good customer service plays a significant role in customer satisfaction, and it begins from the moment a prospective patient decides to call your office. Happy patients will help improve your practice’s reputation, and they will recommend your services to more people, growing your patient base and bottom line over time.