While we usually focus on marketing strategy and tactics for medical practices, this month I decided to pivot and cover another critical aspect of your practice’s success which is the new-patient conversion process.
In nonmarketing speak, that basically means the rate at which you and your team are turning new callers, website visitors, and walk-ins (basically all interested parties) into booked appointments and new patients.
Making sure your marketing is generating new patient leads is super important, but if you’re not effectively converting those prospective patients into appointments when they come in, your marketing dollars are going to waste.
Hi there, It’s Huyen here and welcome to OMD TV & Podcast show, the place to be to grow and scale your practice.
In this episode, I’m going to talk about 7 Reasons Your Front Desk May Be Losing 39% of Your New Patients
Prospective patients can come from many channels—your website, phone line, email, live chat on your website, or even walk-ins. The channel I want to focus on today is incoming calls, because this process is the most difficult to do correctly on a consistent basis. There are so many variables from call to call—who answers the phone, who is calling, how busy it is that day, the questions they ask; the list goes on.
How your front desk handles each incoming phone call can be the difference between thousands of dollars in revenue generated and money lost for your practice.
Every mishandled phone call is costing you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars—in fact, a recent study showed that 39% of US-based respondents would never use the offending company again following a bad customer service encounter.
To help our own clients, we listened to hundreds of calls from practices around the country to see how they could be improved. We found the following seven conversion indicators to be key to maximizing the chances of converting every prospective new-patient phone call into an appointment.
No. 1: You haven’t developed or trained your team to use a script with every call.
A designated script is the best way to ensure that your front desk team covers all the bases for every single caller, regardless of the many variables that may arise. It’s simply not enough to remind them to “always remember to bring up XYZ.”
Your team wants to remember everything you ask them to do, but humans are not perfect. If you have kids, just think of how many times you’ve had to ask them to do something simple, such as put their shoes away or hang up a piece of clothing if it’s clean.
To combat this element of the human condition (that we all struggle with!), write a conversation script for the front desk team to follow. This way, all prospective patients will receive 100% of the information they need to make an informed decision about your practice.
No. 2: Asking, ‘How did you hear about us?’ isn’t part of your script.
I would be remiss if I didn’t bring this up while helping you restructure how your team handles phone calls. This is more about improving your marketing processes than boosting conversions, but every fresh lead on the phone is an opportunity to enhance your marketing processes.
You might think this is unnecessary if leads are pouring in, but what if you’re paying for a marketing channel that brings in minimal leads while another is bringing them all in? You’d want to funnel your marketing dollars into the more effective channel and stop using the other.
Ask “How did you hear about us?” of every caller, and your marketing strategy will be more informed and powerful for it.
No. 3: Don’t know how to handle “How much does it cost?” question
This is one of the most frequently asked questions that your front desk has to deal with over the phone, not knowing how to handle this question well will cost you thousands of dollars of revenue.
This is how it works… your patient perceived value about your clinic equals Patient Received Benefit MINUS Treatment Cost.
When a patient asks, “How much does it cost?”, replying immediately over email or by phone call will lose you the opportunity to build up the Patient Perceived Benefit and all they can see from their end is the Treatment cost. Therefore, you will have a negative Patient Perceived Value meaning you will lose this prospective patient.
“How much does it cost?”. I got to deal with this question a lot throughout my career from both, running my own agency and also from other clinics that we work with.
Price is always a factor in a prospect’s objections. You will want to think about the prices you charge, and how can you build value around the price point that you’re asking for, because a transaction only occurs when value exceeds price.
In your pitch to a prospect, you want to be building the value for your services or procedures; thereby addressing the price point objection before it is even raised.
Once you do this, you will minimize the main objections that come up about pricing. While I’m pretty sure that you’ll still get these queries, however, they will come up much less frequently your sales process.
If you are selling a high value procedure or treatment (even if it’s not), you need to have a proper training in dealing with enquiries. Remember, every single new enquiry that the patient coordinator is dealing with, depending what is the value of your procedure or treatment, is a potential additional $10K revenue to your clinic. You need to have a proven process in place.
There is a lot to cover if I want to talk about every single step of the sales process for medical practice, that’s why my team and I wrote a guide called 7 Figure Samurai Sword Sales Guide For Clinics that shows you everything you need to have a proper sales process in place and help you improve your new patient conversion rate.
No. 4: ‘Would you like to book an appointment?’ is missing from your script.
This sounds like it should be obvious, but a lot of times, many receptionists get caught up in other details of the conversation and completely forget to ask if the caller wants to schedule an appointment. It’s just another symptom of classic human error.
The goal of perfecting how your front desk handles incoming calls is to minimize and eliminate any room for error. This question should always be one of the last things a receptionist asks, so include it at the end of your script!
No. 5: You aren’t tracking how many calls you get and how many callers become new patients.
This is the end goal of every incoming lead—that they book an appointment and become your new patient. Tracking how many callers become new patients is key to improving conversion. You can’t improve what you can’t quantify.
Pay attention to things such as:
- Which team member has the best conversion rate? What are they doing that others aren’t?
- Was anyone left on hold? Why and for how long?
- Did the receptionist say anything that inhibited the conversion?
A call tracking service makes this easier than doing it by hand with checklists. If you don’t have one already, these services are incredibly affordable and can be the difference between a call conversion program that closes more leads than ever and stagnation. I can’t recommend call tracking enough!
No. 6: Your team fails to get on a first name basis with all new callers.
When someone calls your practice, make sure your team asks for their name at the beginning of the call. Ideally, they will use each person’s name twice in conversation, if not more.
People love hearing their own name. Aside from that, people like to feel (and be treated) like individuals. You can harness that innate human quality by acknowledging that they aren’t just a “ma’am” or “sir” but instead a John, a Jessica, a Susie.
It may make just a small difference in the long run, but the point of maximizing your conversion process is stacking all of the chips that you have at your disposal, right? This is another chip to stack in your favour.
No. 7: You haven’t developed a process or script to pre-screen the prospects and build rapport with them
Your initial conversation with your prospects is all about identifying 4 critical N.B.A.T elements. By knowing these elements well, you will know if they are a good fit and ready for the consultation or not.
N – stands for Needs – what are their needs? How important is it for them to have it now? Why now?
B – stands for Budget – have they got savings for that? Would they need financial assistance?
A – stands for Authority – are they the person who makes the decision or do they need to discuss it with their spouse?
T – stands for Timing – when do they want to have it done? Is it now, 6 months or 1 year down the road? Have they seen other doctors before? What do they think?
Other information that can be collected such as
- Current meds
- Health history
- Breast feeding status
- Do they have young children, who would take care of them when the patient is having the surgery, do they need help with transportation, childcare?
Building rapport with prospects over the phone is one of the key ingredients in generating more consultation bookings for your practice.
Go beyond the usual transactional or medical questions and try to get to know them as the person, get into their lives. You need to make sure that you put the spotlight on your prospect, they should be the centre of the whole conversation.
Active listening is an integral part of establishing rapport. Concentrate on what the caller is trying to communicate to you. Let the caller know that you are listening intently by responding with gentle ‘hms’ or ‘ahs’ even as they speak.
Allow the caller to finish what they are saying before you provide a summary of your comprehension of the issue. This will reassure the caller that you care about what they are saying and are interested in helping them out.
Every time your phone rings, it could be a new patient with a family of five and 25 referrals waiting to be made—or it could be a blown opportunity. In the worst-case scenario, it could even lead to a bad review of your practice.
It’s up to you (and maybe your practice manager if you have one) to ensure that your front desk team is prepared to make the most of every opportunity. These seven habits will go a long way toward making that happen.
So, the one move you can take right now after listening to this episode is to audit the new patient enquiry taking process from taking a call to responding to enquiries over the phone or in person. Everything should be recorded for further analysis.
We cover how to address all sorts of different objections, and how to even qualify prospects before they come in and see you in our comprehensive sales training guide for your team called the “7 Figure Samurai Sword Sales Guide For Clinics”. We have both electronic and audio versions for you, so check it out and apply what you will learn to see your new patient conversion rate improve immediately after you start applying it.
If you want us to help you improve the new patient conversion rate for your clinics using the above steps, we’d like to invite you to take the next step which is to book a 15 min discovery call with us so we can learn more about you and to see if we can help you.
Thanks for listening and hope to talk to you in our discovery call soon.