There are many things you should never do, but the one thing that you definitely never, ever, (did I say ever?) do is to not have your phones answered by a live human being.
- Do you put the answering service on when you go to lunch?
- Do you close your office when you are on vacation and have the calls forward to a service?
- Who answers the phone after hours?
Your phone is the life blood of your office.
When someone calls the office, they are ready to make an appointment. If it is difficult for them to reach you, the patient will just move on and call another doctor. So, what do you do to make sure your phones are being answered all of the time?
- Have one receptionist take lunch one hour before or after everyone else does, so the phones are always being manned.
- Never close your office completely when you are on vacation. Many doctors force their staff to take the same vacation time as they do. This makes it difficult for staff to take time off to be with their families when it is most convenient for them. In addition, no one is in the office to make appointments and collect past balances. Always have a few staff members in the office when you are on vacation. This way phones will always be answered, and your appointment book will be full when you come back.
- After hours: Do you work only to 5 PM? Patients sometimes call at night to make appointments. Give your front desk person a cell phone. Have all the calls forwarded to the cell phone after hours. Have her answer the phone and make appointments until 9 PM. Tell her you will pay her $5 for every successful appointment that has been made. This means the patient made and kept their appointment. She then can forward the calls to the answering service after 9 PM.
Here is the key: Always have your phone answered by your staff during office hours—and even after hours. The staff will be able to provide proper information to the patient and can provide that WOW service on the phone that an answering service most likely cannot.