By Terri Ross, Terri Ross Consulting
When you first walk into a medical office for an appointment, what are your expectations? How do you want the staff to greet you, and what are some of the things that make you say, “I’m never coming back here again”? As a business owner, do you meet those expectations? The front office is often a patient’s first glimpse into the workings of a practice, and if a patient has a positive experience with your front office staff, it sets the stage for a positive experience overall.
As with any business, effective communication in the medical aesthetic office is key. The first interaction you have with potential patients is often a phone call. Office staff should be trained on how to begin and execute a productive and engaging phone call. In their interactions with patients, front office staff should strive to be enthusiastic, knowledgeable and engaging.
1. Be enthusiastic, engaging and confident: A positive attitude is infectious and an important element of success in any business. This article from the Huffington Post explains the importance of a positive attitude in business. Convey a positive attitude, speak and articulate information with confidence, and engage the patient in dialogue to ensure you have gathered all of the facts about them and what they are requesting. This will set you apart significantly from others practices that don’t invest in training their staff.
2. Listen first: Listen to prospective patients—assess their needs and desires before pitching a service or treatment. Strive to make a genuine connection with each patient. You want to “land the patient.” See TSIA’s explanation of the Land, Adopt, Renew, Expand (LAER) model here. The LAER model I teach is Listen, Acknowledge, Explore, Respond. Most often, people tend to listen and respond without really understanding patient needs. Explore more details, show empathy and acknowledge that you fully understand what the patient is telling you.
3. Ask questions: Your ability to connect, ask questions, and engage with potential patients is critical. The medical aesthetics space is very competitive, and the consumers are very educated and have numerous resources to explore. They also have many choices, so your ability to articulate with conviction by credentialing the business and providers, as well as knowing the products and treatments you offer over the competition is paramount to a prospective patient wanting to schedule with you over another office.
4. Never say no: If a patient asks if you offer Ulthera and you don’t, do not say no, or you’ve lost them. Instead, say, “May I ask who is calling? Hi [patient name]—so you are interested in skin tightening, is that correct?” This means you must know your technology and your competition and be able to effectively convince them that what you offer is equally as good if not better than another option. More importantly, your knowledge and skill set will make them want to schedule with you. If that doesn’t work, ask if you can follow up with them.
5. Respond to patient needs in a timely fashion: If a patient calls or emails with a question or need, make it a point to respond immediately—usually within 1 ¬– 3 hours, or 24 hours at the very latest. There are several different types of patient inquiries, and one of them is new leads. This is critical, as they are shopping but haven’t yet decided on your practice. Current patients are the ones who know you, trust you, and already have a relationship with you. However, communication with current patients is equally as important, as this helps to establish patient retention. If a patient asks a question to which you don’t immediately know the answer, say that you are searching for the answer and will respond as soon as possible. This lets them know that they are important.
6. Be the expert: It is essential for you to know every product and service offered in your office. Do your homework. You need to know every treatment: What it does, what it’s used for and how it can be incorporated into a personalized treatment plan. By knowing your services and how they compare to your competitors’, you engage patients and make them feel they have landed at the right office.
7. Go beyond what is expected: In attitude, knowledge and service, go beyond the patient’s general expectations. Make sure the patient has a positive experience from start to finish. Are you the Four Seasons or the Marriott?
Now that you’ve read these seven steps, picture yourself as a patient walking into your office, and ask yourself if you’d return for a next visit. Even if you’ve answered yes, there might be some room for improvement in certain aspects, and I want to make sure you have reached the point of a perfect first impression. Please download the complimentary checklist to evaluate where the holes in your staff training might be.
Is your office running at maximum capacity? Have you invested in staff training or sales consulting? Click here to download Terri’s 10-point checklist
Terri Ross brings more than 20 years of sales and management experience to the field, having worked with leading-edge medical device companies such as Zeltiq, Medicis, EMD Serono, Merck Schering Plough and Indigo Medical; a surgical division of Johnson.
Ross’ vast knowledge and experience as a sales director managing upwards of $20M in revenue and successful teams has allowed her to become a renowned plastic surgery management consultant helping aesthetic practices thrive.
To optimize revenues and business performance, Ross’ practice management consulting services help physicians evaluate practice processes including, but not limited to, overall-operating efficiencies, staff skill assessment, customer service and operating efficiency strategies. The goal is to develop a comprehensive plan of action to improve productivity, quality, efficiency and return on investment.