Best practices for front-end staff

By Shana Chapman, Practice Service Specialist, Inner Circle

Patients have several choices when it comes to purchasing hearing aids. These days, people are doing more research ahead of time before deciding to make an appointment. Making sure you are equipped with optimal front-office staff to represent the face of your practice is crucial for success.

No matter how patients get to you, your front-end staff are the “Directors of First Impressions.” If you are thinking of ways to improve your practice, one of the critical areas of focus is ensuring your Patient Care Coordinators (PCC) are providing the best service to your patients. Engaging with patients, whether on the phone or in-person, determines if they feel welcome, supported and paves the way as to whether they want to form a relationship with your practice.

Investing in great front-office staff is vital to both your practice and your patients. You want to be able to provide extraordinary service to each individual that walks through your doors or calls your office.

This is a time to reflect by asking yourself some questions:

  1. Have you invested in a front-end staff? If so, have they gone through any professional training to date?
  2. Are their inbound/outbound calls listened to on a weekly basis in an effort to provide tips and feedback?
  3. Is there a formal procedure for call handling, such as utilization of a pre-written script to follow?
  4. Have you considered using a call tracking service in order to gauge performance of your front end staff handling calls to ensure they are providing the best service to your patients?
  5. Do you have front-office protocols in place, such as how patients are greeted, collection of patient information (i.e. insurance, intake forms, identification)?
  6. Is your front-end staff updated on marketing offerings that you may have available?

If you are unsure or answering “no” to any of the above questions, it is best practice to start examining what you would like to get out of your front-end staff. This will help guide you in how to make a lasting first impression as well as a seamless patient experience. Having a motivated PCC means they are invested in themselves, the practice and role they play in the success of your business.

Below are some best practices from PCC’s

Phone tips:

  1. Always greet the patient with a smile, even when on the phone. Patients can hear it.
  2. Introduce the practice properly and state your name. Ask how you may help them.
  3. Be polite and appreciative of them calling. It’s a big step for many patients!
  4. Avoid doing other activities when on the call. You should remain focused.
  5. Gather all necessary contact information.
  6. Ask if they are calling for themselves or a loved one.
  7. Ask what their primary concern is regarding their hearing.
  8. Show empathy and answer their questions and concerns.
  9. Utilize scripts, if you have them, to answer questions about price, technology and insurance.
  10. Explain your current COVID-19 protocols and if you provide tele-health options.
  11. Suggest for a friend or loved one to accompany them to the appointment.
  12. Provide next available appointment times. Use Smart Scheduling to set appointments.

In-office tips:

  1. Smile and maintain eye contact at all times.
  2. Most of these patients are taking the beginning steps to better hearing. Building rapport and showing empathy helps build a relationship and show that you care.
  3. Greet the patient by their name or preferred name, offer them water, coffee or tea, if you have it readily available.
  4. Make sure you are organized for each appointment. Have the patient’s paperwork ready for them if they need to fill it out in the office. If they have brought paperwork that you sent them prior to the appointment, look it over and make sure everything is filled out as needed. Collect any ID’s and insurance information as well.
  5. Explain the next steps of the appointment, who they will see, how long the test takes, etc.
  6. If the patient is waiting in the lobby, talk to them. Ask them questions about themselves, what they like to do, do they have pets, find a topic and take note in their file. If you can’t find a topic to talk about, the weather is a great ice-breaker.
  7. Inform them of where the restroom is in the office.
  8. Actively listen. Patients will ask questions. Make sure that they know that all questions are good questions and provide affirmation.
  9. When the patient has completed the appointment, make sure that they are greeted again in a warm manner and answer any remaining questions.
  10. Thank them for visiting and choosing your practice. Send thank-you notes after the visit. A personal touch still goes a long way today and people like getting cards in the mail.
  11. Follow-up. It’s important that you have scheduled their next appointment and are performing follow-up calls to see how the patient is doing. Touching base with patients is key to having them come back.

Great first impressions lay the groundwork for excellent patient-care journey in your practice. Using these tips will help provide your patients with first-class service each and every time they visit. Investing in great front-office staff is one of the best things you can do for your practice.

Coming Soon!

Our Inner Circle program will be offering our Front Desk Training as a new service offering in Spring 2021. Our EDGE program will provide three modules to help your front-office staff, enhance their skills and share what a successful front-office experience should provide. Included in the offering is an opportunity to utilize follow-up Call Coaching for three months. All members will be able to redeem points for this service. As a reminder, Phonak provides our Inner Circle members with complimentary call tracking for every marketing campaign. We will also send you your very own log-in to the tracking platform for you to review calls and learn more about what questions prospects and patients are asking to help you provide key talking points for your front-office team.