We were in a meeting last week, and one of our team members was telling us about a call she had just received.
Caller: “I’m very frustrated. I’m a big Madow fan and doing many of the marketing things you are suggesting. But I’m not getting as many new patients as I had hoped.”
Us: “Let’s see how we can help you. Are you tracking every single new patient?”
Caller: “Oh – of course we are!”
Us: “And how is your front desk team? Do they know how to convert a caller with a question into an actual patient?”
Caller: “Oh – of course they do! They are all very experienced and do a fantastic job!”
The conversation continued as they brainstormed more ways to get things up to speed in the practice. But then in the team meeting we started discussing the call and decided to hit them with a little “secret shopping.”
Here is how the call went:
Practice: “Thank you for calling Dr. ******** and Dr. *******’s office. This is ******** speaking. I can help you!” (So far so good!)
Us: “How much do you charge for a cleaning?”
Practice: “A cleaning is ninety dollars.”
Us: “Okay – thank you.”
Wow! She was extremely pleasant. The question was answered correctly. But is this patient ever coming in? NO WAY JOSE!!!!
This potential new patient has totally disappeared. No appointment was even attempted. No contact information was obtained. No call log was filled out.
The caller quite possibly responded to some marketing, saw the office sign, was referred by a friend, etc.. But it is now like they never even existed.
Of course you can write them off as a “shopper.” But the fact is, any properly trained team member would have had them right in the appointment book where they belong!!
Think it’s not happening in your practice? That’s what our caller thought too! Nobody thinks this is happening in their practice. But then again, 90% of the population thinks they are above average drivers!
There is no question that most practices could significantly improve the amount of new patients they are getting just by tightening up some things at the front desk. There’s a lot to it, but here are two suggestions that are guaranteed to work immediately.
1) Make sure that your phone is answered 100% of the time during normal business hours. That means during lunch and every day of the week, whether or not the office is “open.” It is not permitted to have a recording that says “We are out to lunch” or “If you have reached this recording during normal business hours, we are currently busy treating other patients.” (There are SO many things wrong with that last one that we need to leave it for another day!)
2) Keep a manual log book of EVERY SINGLE CALL that comes into the office. This means shoppers, wrong numbers, complainers, and people trying to sell you multi-level hand lotion. EVERY SINGLE CALL!!!
The log has the time of the call, reason for the call, patient’s name and contact information, and outcome of the call. Each team member needs to know that there are no stupid questions and no such thing as a “shopper.” Anyone who takes the time to call your practice must have some desire to come in or they never would have called! It’s our job to get them in!!
Of course there is much more to this, but those two simple things, if executed properly, WILL increase your new patient numbers. It’s not, as they say, rocket science.