Nearly every marketing consultant will tell you to market and nurture your current customers before spending marketing dollars on acquiring new customers.
There are five simple (and relatively inexpensive) steps that every medical or surgical office can take to improve their service to current patients, which should lead to an increase in the size of their practice.
Adopting these five systems will enhance your practice and give you a leg up on the competition because most simply never adopt these simple systems.
Here are five systems that every medical or surgical practice should implement:
- Improve (or create) call answering scripts to address common pain points and share solutions.
- Train (or retrain) your staff on the proper ways to handle customer questions/requests.
- Create or enhance your customer service QA program.
- Create or enhance your customer referral program.
- Evaluate and improve your communication systems.
Let’s dive into each tip and explain how these five systems can help keep your customers happy, which can increase the lifetime value of a customer to your business while at the same time creating more referral opportunities.
Develop and Continually Work on Your Call Answering Scripts
One of the keys to sales at any level is to have an excellent script—but that is only the beginning. Every call script should be rehearsed so many times that it's memorized, so that it is easy to depart from the script when necessary. Only when the script is known is it easy to weave in and out of the script to fit the needs of the prospect. Those most successful in sales use the same words time after time and stick to their script because it works.
An excellent book on sales which includes a bit of information on the importance of scripts is Hyper Sales Growth: Street-Proven Systems & Processes. How to Grow Quickly & Profitably by Jack Daly. There are many nuggets in that book that can help grow a practice.
Train Your Staff
Everyone talks about training and believes they are doing an adequate job. But we have found through experience that, although employees are trained in their job duties, they are under-trained when it comes to customer service, communication skills, and/or sales training.
Remember that the most important part of customer service is to solve the problem.
Four Three books we recommend for building a culture of learning and customer service in your office are: Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless: How to Make Customers Love You, Keep Them Coming Back and Tell Everyone They Know by Jeffrey Gitomer, and Carrots & Sticks Don’t Work: Build a Culture of Employee Engagement with the Principles of RESPECT by Dr. Paul Marciano which is required reading for all Dexcomm employees
Create a Customer Service QA Program
Quality assurance should be an integral part of the customer service side of a plastic surgery practice just as it is an integral part of the clinical side.
In the call answering industry, we measure things such as:
- Time to answer
- Average hold time
- Polite departure and return from hold (if a hold was necessary)
- Confirmation of the spelling of the name and of the phone number
What’s not always measured is caller satisfaction and the operator’s engagement on the call, yet these are two of the most important aspects of a call.
If your medical practice has created call scripts and trained employees on the scripts, then there should be a way to measure the tele-receptionist’s performance on each call. The expression: “If it is measured, it matters,” certainly holds true in this case.
Measuring Quality Assurance in a Medical or Plastic Surgery Practice
Systems that record calls are available and affordable with today’s technology. Setting up an internal QA program requires a little time and effort and a few hours each month to listen to calls and offer feedback. The key is to have the tele-receptionists listen to and grade their own calls and the calls of their peers with the goal of improving caller satisfaction over time.
Pro Tip: Peer grading is an outstanding way to ensure consistency throughout the office, and it gives employees a chance to share honest feedback they can use to learn from other more experienced callers or operators.
Create a Referral Program
Consider this quote from Jeffrey Gitomer: “All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends,” and adds, “all things being not so equal, people still want to do business with their friends.”
If you put all of your planning for business referrals through the lens of doing business with friends, you are more likely to create a successful referral program.
A simple referral program could look like this:
- Offering current patients a discount on service or gift card for any referral who converts/books an appointment.
- Offering an incentive for the person who is being referred—such as a 15% discount for a first-time visit.
Or you could do both!
The key is to establish a program that benefits both the current customer and their referral, without spamming them.
Evaluate and Improve Your Communications Systems
A challenge we often face (for both the plastic surgery practices we serve and our staff) is when there is a change desired in protocol and it is communicated poorly or not at all. It can be something as simple as an on-call change to instructions regarding which facility the physician uses for admissions and for whom they are occasionally on call. Whenever your medical practice makes a change, it should be communicated to all employees and anyone who answers calls on your business’ behalf, so they can properly communicate with customers.
We certainly realize that, as a service provider, we must do all we can to avoid lapses in communication, and work hard to keep all of our information up to date. But if you don’t communicate change happening within your business, it’s going to trickle down to your call operators and customers not knowing what has changed which can cause confusion for all. So make sure that you continually strengthen your internal communication and communicate any changes to your team.
Each of the above steps can be successfully implemented individually, but you’ll see the biggest lift to your medical practice if/when they can work together and complement one another.