Are the Really Nice People Who Answer Your Phone Secretly Killing Your Business?

hanging phone killing your businessA physician called us last week for advice. It was urgent. His concern was about a slump in new patient appointments. After talking things through, it turns out that this large group practice was answering tough competition in the marketplace with a solid marketing plan. (A good thing.) In fact, the phone was ringing. (Also good.)

He explained that they were getting additional inbound inquiry calls, but not booking many additional appointments. (Oops!) Calls, but not appointments? The “wound” was obvious.

This practice was bleeding away new business at the front desk. The front line was blowing sales opportunities just by answering the phone. And with a typical case size of $9,000-$12,000, it was a huge problem for this practice.

Unfortunately, there’s more to this tale. While the diagnosis was easily understood, our prescription to stop the bleeding met with resistance at first.

“Training for the front desk?” was their reaction. “These are nice people, they’re not rude on the phone.” In fact, the people who answer the phone were pleasant enough. They simply had no training or experience in handling inbound calls. Along with being pleasant, it takes a little sales savvy, an understanding of the caller’s perspective and a few useful tools to convert an inquiry into a first visit appointment.

Their root objection turned out to be the cost of training for the front desk staff. After all, “How hard can it be to pick up the phone?” Compared to the loss of business (roughly $9k-$10k per case), the math was easy and the training solution was truly worthwhile. Proper training is really a cost-effective business investment. In this case, as with most, it not only saves the new patient opportunity from being lost on the phone, it protects the invested advertising budget and delivers a better Return-on-Investment.

If any of this sounds familiar to you, we should talk. It’s alarming, but 90 percent of practices and healthcare organizations lose money when they answer the phone, particularly when it comes to advertising generated inquiries. There’s more about phone success here on our website. And before things get worse, connect with us here to stop your bleeding.

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer & Creative Director at Healthcare Success
Over the years Stewart has personally marketed and consulted for over 1,457 healthcare clients, ranging from private practices to multi-billion dollar corporations. Additionally, he has marketed a variety of America’s leading companies, including Citicorp, J. Walter Thompson, Grubb & Ellis, Bally Total Fitness, Wells Fargo and Chase Manhattan. Stewart co-founded our company, and today acts as Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director. He is also a frequent author and speaker on the topic of healthcare marketing. His personal accomplishments are supported by a loving wife and two beautiful daughters.

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“Despite practicing in a hyper-competitive market, our new-patient counts are double what they were for the same time period last year. Hiring Healthcare Success was one of the best business decisions I have ever made.”


– Jonathan Calure, MD