Incoming Call Training for PTs
Poor communication techniques can cost even the tiniest office $1000s per day, and most practitioners don’t have the foggiest clue about what they are missing until they hear it with their own ears…
Very early in our PT consulting days we recognized a huge opportunity for owners to pick some low-hanging fruit just by changing how their phones were answered. Almost no one had a system for how to handle calls or train staff. And when you listen to a few typical calls, you can hear how quickly the lost business adds up. Losing one or two new patients a day from mishandled incoming calls means, literally, thousands of dollars per week.
The list of problems caused by bad phone technique is pretty basic (abandoned calls, missed booking cues, and frustrating callers), but most owners don’t recognize the depth of the problem. What happens on the phone isn’t always in plain site, especially if you don’t get complaints. Also, you can have the most courteous staff and still have the problem. That’s why I like to call it a “silent” practice killer. In fact, at the end of the year when it’s Profit & Loss time, and your accountant asks what you can do to improve financial performance, chances are you’ll think of lots of reasons, but fixing “the “silent practice killer” won’t be one of them.
What if it was possible to boost the bottom line just by implementing a strategic incoming call program?
I used to talk to one clinic owner after another about boosting the bottom line with call training until I was blue in the face, but no one would implement a single suggestion. So I finally decided to start those conversations by playing a three-minute recording of a typical prospective patient call. Hearing sample recordings was the “aha” moment motivating owners to turn their office upside down. That was the moment our call training program took off. Call training became the forerunner of the 6 Essentials, which led to making Internal Marketing systems the prerequisite to inbound and outbound marketing. The thinking was that if you weren’t setup to convert leads effectively, you were wasting your marketing budget.
What could they possibly hear in a three-minute recorded call that would cause such a resounding sense of business urgency?
It’s really pretty simple; when you realize how much business tugs at your sleeve every day through your phone and how much you may be missing, it can you pretty agitated.
Let’s take a closer look…
With the exception of your vendors, incoming calls to a physical therapy clinic will fall into one of three basic categories:
A) existing patients and referral sources,
B) prospective patients, and
C) prospective referral sources.
If you are not consistently marketing your business, chances are that 98% of your incoming calls fall into category A. The kinds of questions “A” callers have usually relate to appointment scheduling, insurance, or some other customer SERVICE related issue. As your marketing operations mature, more callers will be from categories B and C.
B and C callers have more specific questions about treatment options and the potential benefits of care, or what marketers like to call FEATURES and BENEFITS. If you don’t satisfy the needs of all caller categories, then guess what? They will get their information somewhere else.
Customer service calls, type “A”, are not the same as prospective patient/referral inquiries, type “B” and “C”, but most businesses treat them like they are the same.
The right management of incoming calls leads to better customer service and higher conversion rates – an Essential for leveraging everything a complete marketing system has to offer.