Let’s Talk About It: Telephone Skills Training is Critical to Practice Success
Wednesday, June 28, 2017 9:00 AM
The telephone is one of the most unheralded — but most important — communication tools in a medical practice.
Taking the time — and applying the resources — to properly train and educate staff to use the telephone in a courteous, professional manner can have a significant impact on a practice’s bottom line. Failure to do so can result in lost business and numerous customer service challenges.
To “talk your way to success” over the telephone, you should be able to answer “yes” to most of the following questions.
30 Questions to Ask to Determine if Your Practice is Using the Phone Properly
1. Do staff members understand the importance — and relationship — of the telephone to the practice?
2. Does the practice provide telephone skills training to employees?
3. Are there specific written protocols for answering the telephone?
4. Is proper telephone “etiquette” emphasized in training sessions?
5. Is there a written list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers?
6. Does staff consistently answer the phone before the third ring?
7. When answering the phone, do staff members identify the practice by name?
8. When answering, do staff members identify to whom the caller is speaking?
9. Do staff members always attempt to identify the caller?
10. Does staff use the caller’s name during the conversation?
11. Do staff members consistently use “please” and “thank you” with each caller?
12. Are callers made to feel as though they are speaking with a “friend?”
13. Are staff members positive and enthusiastic in answering calls?
14. When transferring calls, does staff indicate to whom — and why — the call is being transferred?
15. Is the recipient of a transferred call ready and able to answer specific questions?
16. Does staff ask the patient for permission to place the call on hold?
17. Does staff express appreciation when returning to callers who have been placed on hold?
18. In an unusually busy time, does staff offer to return phone calls? (And then do it in a timely manner?)
19. When taking messages, does staff verify the details by repeating the message back to the caller?
20. Are all messages marked with a date and time?
21. Are there written guidelines for triaging calls?
22. Is there a designated person assigned to triage medical calls?
23. Does staff meet periodically to review and update telephone protocols?
24. Is there an inquiry form used consistently for prospective patients?
25. Are information packets available and mailed out each day to interested patients?
26. Is there a system in place to follow up with interested patients?
27. Has staff been trained on clinical aspects of all practice offerings and services?
28. Is there a staff member designated as the “expert” in specific services and/or offerings?
29. Is staff educated on the doctor’s background, experience, and credentials, especially related to “elective” procedures such as LASIK?
30. Is staff comfortable asking “closing” questions?
The telephone should not be viewed by management and staff as an annoying source of distractions and interruptions. When used by trained personnel, armed with practice-specific knowledge and scripts, the telephone is arguably the most valuable tool in a practice’s communication arsenal.
YOUR TURN: What else indicates telephone etiquette success? Please leave your response in the comment section below.