Two seemingly unrelated events have happened in the last 24 hours that provide one more reason to confirm “it’s not business as usual.”
The first was a consulting phone call with a husband (DC) and wife (CA) team struggling in a small rural community. During the course of the call she revealed that she hated the area, despised the missing-teeth stupidity of the community and their lack of interest in true health. Needless to say, even if you’re a good actor, having contempt for the people you wish to serve, is not exactly an attitude that builds practices.
The other event was a website client who, after a mere five months of service complained that his brand new website hadn’t produced any new patients, and that the one that had scheduled, didn’t show up for the initial appointment.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (not that there are very many of them these days) to see a potential common denominator: the front desk CA.
Do you have the right person at the front desk answering the telephone?
In the golden age of insurance coverage in the 1980s and early 1990s, telephone responsibilities pretty much amounted to order taking and scheduling new patients at the most efficient times of the day. Just about everyone had insurance, so the financial aspect of the relationship wasn’t much of a factor.
Obviously, those days are gone for good. Yet, many practices still have front desk “order takers” answering the telephone who lack the awareness, desire, experience or persuasive skills to win over, what are increasingly wary prospects.
I know. Barbara has been with you for 12 years. But in that decade the profession and economy have changed sufficiently that she may not be the right person for the job. If displacement isn’t an option, at least have a conversation about the changing practice environment and make sure your veteran CA at the front desk isn’t needlessly chasing today’s new patient way! Moreover, you might want to provide some coaching so she can be more resourceful:
1. Understand new patients are more precious these days. If you’re one for hiding the statistical performance of your practice from your team, this may be difficult, but essential. If you’re angry that you have to dip into savings while your staff remains oblivious, man up. Share the facts of practice life with your support team so they “get” that it’s not business as usual.
2. Revisit your financial policy. If your financial policy is a decade old, you may want to rethink it. You might want to look into adding ChiroHealthUSA and CareCredit. Help prospective new patients understand that with today’s $1000 deductibles (and larger) they will have to pay cash whomever they consult. Amazingly, there are still some practices that shun credit cards because of the 3% merchant fee!
3. Counteract the low cost provider. Can the “gatekeeper” of your practice at the front desk explain to telephone shoppers why you’re not on their list and plant enough doubt about those who are? “Many patients report that they didn’t receive very good care and had to be dismissed before muscles and soft tissues were fully healed, setting the stage for a relapse. And that’s after having to complete enormous amounts of paperwork on each visit. So, you’ll want to be careful about gambling your health with a chiropractor who is located clear across town or who was merely the lowest bidder. If it doesn’t work out, give us a call so we can show you what affordable, yet independent chiropractic care can do for you.”
This is on top of the ability to field common questions, overcome objections, provide hope and all the other duties required at the front desk. It’s no easy task. All of which occurs largely out of earshot while you’re attending to current patients. Worse, another potentially more responsive front desk CA is just a click away.