Over 25 years. That’s how long our team has been supporting doctor’s practices, hospitals, pharmacies, and other medical facilities in handling patient calls all around the clock. After all these years in the industry, we still receive the same questions about answering services. Some healthcare professionals hesitate about starting a specialty call answering service; others are not fully satisfied with their current provider and are considering a switch.
Do you belong to either of these groups? You might feel you need more information about healthcare answering services before taking any further action. Have a look at the following three aspects of specialty call forwarding, which are instrumental in the discussion about the service. Learning more about them may help you settle upon the best solution.
Answering Services and Answering Machines Aren’t the Same
Healthcare professionals may be tempted to simply transfer incoming calls to voicemail that they routinely check when they’re not available. As this feature usually comes free on most telephone and mobile phone devices, it seems like the most cost-effective solution. If voicemails are checked regularly, most insurance carriers will also allow this form of availability to your patients to pass their 24/7 availability requirement. However, there are many disadvantages of the answering machine Here’s a few:
- Patients still prefer to talk to a real person. As research shows, 70% of consumers would rather speak to a human agent than resolve issues online or through digital customer support. This holds particularly true for the healthcare industry, where patients expect highly-personal interaction and share sensitive private information.
- Patients’ tolerance for waiting is waning, especially in an emergency. When patients call your office or reception desk, they expect immediate help. While voicemail is theoretically available 24/7, from the patients’ perspective, it’s an asynchronous service that fails to provide an instant resolution. The general negative customer sentiment towards answering machines shows in statistics; it’s estimated that 7 out of 10 callers hang up after they hear the ‘beep.’
- Live answering services have an advantage over answering machines. With live answering services, your patients can speak to a real person at any time. Calls are promptly answered, and issues are resolved by live agents or relayed to your medical personnel according to the established scripts. What’s more, the fact that every single call is captured, and no request goes unanswered increases your facility’s potential to expand the customer base through higher conversion. Besides, the cost of medical healthcare services is much lower than you might expect.
Specialty Answering Services Should Be Tailored to Your Needs All Along The Way
Good for everything often means good for nothing. Great patient interaction requires a personalized and professional service, and to deliver that, the answering service you choose must offer personalized support at three layers:
- Healthcare-only services. Call answering agents act as connectors between patients and healthcare providers. The more knowledgeable and experienced they are, the more duties they can take up from your staff, resolving callers’ concerns quickly and in a professional manner. As 3 out of 4 Americans admit they’d abandon a brand following a poor customer experience, it’s essential that you choose an answering services provider that serves the medical industry exclusively to decrease the chances of inadequate service that will drive your patients away. By forwarding calls to medically-trained and certified agents, you gain confidence that your patients will receive the same quality of service as if they were talking to your in-house staff.
- Personalized call scripts. Another aspect of personalization regards calls scripting, which is required to ensure consistent healthcare services to patients across all customer touchpoints in your facility. Call handling should follow company-specific scripts that you develop in cooperation with the answering services provider. Answering protocols can get quite sophisticated, especially in large hospitals and clinical centers that serve thousands of patients across various divisions. However, at the beginning of your partnership with a live support services provider, it’s a good idea to start from a simple script that covers the most typical cases and take it from there by building complexity with time.
- Account-based call agents. Generalized answering services companies usually focus on maximizing call volume per agent to reduce personnel costs. This setup deprives you of any control over which agents answer your calls. Furthermore, one caller may be served by a different person on every occasion, which negatively impacts customer experience and slows down service. At The Doctors Answer, every healthcare facility has a team of agents assigned permanently to its account, which enables a consistent and seamless service. Some members of our staff have been working for the same customer for years, building an extensive knowledge of their medical business and patients. We believe this approach creates greater trust among patients and providers and leads to a more personalized one-to-one service.
Medical Answering Services Are an Extension of Your Brand
Medical answering services have many benefits; it boosts appointment booking, streamlines patient experience, and allows healthcare facilities to remain compliant with healthcare standards and regulations. However, what many healthcare providers frequently forget is that call answering is essentially an extension of their brand that also helps them to expand the reach and make their services more accessible.
This means that poor quality of answering services exerts a negative impact on the reputation of a medical facility. And the other way round, outstanding telephone service that leads to a reduction of call wait times and prompt resolution of callers’ requests results in enhanced patient experience with a practice or hospital. To support after-hours call answering suppliers and help them provide a consistent experience with your organization, it’s vital that you keep them up to date with any important changes to your facility so that everyone is on the same page.
What’s Your Next Step?
We hope the above three facts about medical answering services will help you make up your mind and give The Doctors Answer a try. If you have any further questions, talk to us! We extend our experience of over 25 years in medical call answering to help you connect with your patients at all times.
Looking forward to hearing from you!