When patients call with some kind of health care concern, they tend to have very little patience for a bureaucratic runaround. The more urgent their needs, the more they will expect (and deserve) an immediate response. Of course, you and your staff can’t be in the office all the time, and that’s where a doctor answering service comes in.
Your patients will expect more than “leave your message and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.” They might be facing some very serious problems, and they need your help. The simple truth of the matter is that a lot of patients don’t want anything to do with an answering machine, and they look forward to dealing with call centers even less. They need a consistent, reliable, and positive experience anytime they call.
Concerns Over Call Centers
The traditional doctors answering service can be expensive and cumbersome. Worse, though, is that they are often staffed by underpaid and improperly trained employees who may answer calls for multiple healthcare providers. This opens up the system to errors, and many of the people answering the calls have no reliable understanding of whether or not the medical problem is really all that urgent.
There are a number of elements that can lead to a negative experience for patients, including:
- Not picking up on the first ring. In an urgent situation, every second matters.
- Repeatedly getting put on hold.
- Staying on hold for extended periods.
- Not getting connected to the right doctor.
- Having errors in the process create even more problems.
Customer service is always a challenge, especially when the concerns revolve around health and healthcare issues. Labor and energy costs all add up, which is why an alternative to this traditional answering service has to reduce costs without losing any quality.
Creating a More Positive Experience
When you begin using an answering service for doctors offices, it’s always important to remember that the needs of the patients have to come first. The experience they have every time they call in has to be a positive one.
That kind of consistency goes a long way, especially when the subject at hand is one of healthcare or medical services. You have to look at this from their perspective and ask yourself: What is it they expect? What do they want to hear when they pick up the phone?
The answer to those questions is usually pretty simple. In general, what they want to hear is: “Let me connect you to the doctor.”
Obviously, that might not be feasible on every call, but if your medical answering service can determine the urgency of the situation, you can improve the overall experience. For example:
- If it’s determined that the call is not urgent, the patients can simply leave a message for the next business day.
- If the call really is urgent and demands immediate attention, the on-call doctor can be notified within 3 seconds so they can return the call.
Through all of this, remember that accuracy matters. As part of providing a consistent experience, all information needs to be passed on without any loss of accuracy.
What Do You Want to Happen on a Call?
Providing the best customer service means avoiding emotional outbursts, being responsive (which is to say, immediately responsive), and gathering the kind of information you need to deliver the answers and services they need. Any inconsistencies, negativity, and perceived miscommunications will be extremely frustrating, and this is what our system was created to avoid.
Only you can say for sure what needs to happen when someone calls your office while you’re away, which is why you can also personalize your on-call and escalation processes. The goal is to make sure your patients can connect in the most effective and convenient way, and it all starts with a courteous pickup on the first ring. Contact us today for more information about our doctors answering services.