The Front Office Professional (FOP) is essential to an effective and efficient hearing healthcare office. Both in-person and over the phone, FOPs are key in establishing rapport with patients, creating a positive first impression, and helping to drive opportunities.
Many practice owners overlook that their front office staff can and should do more than answer phones and schedule appointments—they should help drive revenue every day.
Below are three questions to determine if you’re empowering your Front Office Professionals with the skills and knowledge they need to be a major player in the success of your business:
QUESTION #1: Does your FOP believe in the power of the Third Party and is she/he strongly encouraging patients to bring a loved one to appointments?
You’re most likely aware of the benefits connected to having a trusted family member or friend accompany patients to their appointments, including having a familiar voice during their evaluation and the added case history acquired.
As a Consult YHN member, you also know that increasing your practice’s Third Party rate results in greater patient satisfaction, a reduction in Tested Not Sold patients, and lower return rates. In some practices, it may also increase the closure rate by as much as 10-20 percent.
But is your FOP aware of these benefits? Can your FOP confidently convey to patients the value of having a significant other present for evaluations? To make this point more relatable, ask your FOP how long he/she spent with the doctor the last time he/she was sick? No one has ever answered an hour or more (the typical length of a hearing aid evaluation appointment)!
Source: The Hearing Review
It’s important to demonstrate that the companion is there for support and not because the patient can’t make their own decision. Studies show that 40-80 percent of what patients hear in a doctor’s office is forgotten, regardless of age. So, having two sets of ears is better than one, especially since one of those sets may be struggling to hear.
Lastly, let’s not overlook the potential referral opportunities: many active couples have combined friends and their own individual social networks. Your practice can potentially test the Third Party, or even seek recommendations from both parties, and grow your database – but only if your FOP is consistently emphasizing the need for a companion!
QUESTION #2: Does your Front Office believe that Calling is Caring?
What separates your practice from the competition is the world-class service you provide. The businesses that are most successful in retaining current patients and attracting new ones use a staff member (Patient Communication Specialist) or a service (Your Patient Contact Center) dedicated to making outbound calls to current patients and prospects. This function protects the practice’s most valuable patient resource—its database—and helps fill the schedule with opportunities. We know that 43 percent of patients buy their next set of aids from someone else. That’s why consistently contacting existing patients is vital to keeping your relationships warm and your practice top-of-mind.
However, this is the aspect of the job that more traditional front office employees (receptionists, schedulers) are not prepared for when they enter the hearing healthcare industry. Not only do a successful FOPs need to have computer, filing, customer service, and organization skills, but they also need to own the schedule, manage the provider’s time proactively, and take responsibility to create and enhance the patient experience. We advise FOPs to develop relationships with callers before they come to the office and continue to foster that connection once they become a patient. This way, a call from your practice isn’t an intrusion, but rather a chance to ensure continued patient satisfaction.
Source: Audiology Online
The recommended schedule and mix of patient contact methods may push some FOPs outside their comfort zone. To help reduce anxieties and increase skills and efficiencies, Consult conducts weekly tele-trainings with FOPs from practices across the country. During these trainings participants will learn about why these calls are so important and best practices for scripting to get the greatest results. They will also be encouraged to share their challenges and success stories, allowing them to reap the rewards of being part of a network of likeminded businesses.
QUESTION #3: Does your FOP know the value of each call generated by your marketing initiatives?Based on the data that we have collected from our Associates, on average, each scheduled opportunity appointment is worth approximately $1,200 in profit for your practice. But how can FOPs understand the significance of each incoming phone call if practice owners don’t share this kind of information with them? Once they understand the value of each incoming call, they should be more motivated to improve their call conversion ratio. A great way to do so is to have them listen to recordings of how they have handled incoming calls. No one enjoys the sound of their own voice, but recording and replaying phone calls are one the best ways to improve the caller experience. A trained ear can easily identify if an FOP is unclear about information or unable to answer the caller’s questions. If you don’t have call tracking/recording in place, Consult’s training team will perform secret shopper calls. We can determine what training and guidance is needed, for example, properly scheduling appointment types, discussing the importance of the Third Party, or overusing technical terms and abbreviations (jargon) that the patient doesn’t understand.
Source: Harvard Business ReviewConsult’s virtual Employee Development Program (EDP) workshops should be an essential component in your staff’s development plan. These online training events focus on building and developing your team’s skillset so they can actively contribute to driving opportunities and enhancing the patient experience.
Start empowering your front office staff today! Talk to your Account Manager to learn more about our EDP workshops and weekly tele-trainings!
About the Author
Miki Follin has been an Assistant Account Manager with the West Team at Consult YHN since October 2016. Miki brings retail store management, training, and customer service experience from her years with CVS/Pharmacy and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. When not helping Front Office staff learn and develop, you can find her cheering on Arizona’s sports teams, enjoying the sunshine!