What Do We Know?
As advertisers it’s our job to get the phones at your practice ringing and we’re pretty good at it. That said, at M.Ad we like to go the extra mile and therefore we pay particular attention to the quality of the leads that are coming through. It helps our optimizations to know what kinds of calls are coming through whether they’re relevant or irrelevant. From working on dozens of these accounts we have a good idea of how many of the calls that come through should be converting. When the “lead-to-patient” rate is too low, we like to take a closer look at the sales funnel and business operations to understand what’s going wrong. This blog post is a summary of the advice we usually give to practices that are struggling to convert the leads coming through into patients.
Does it Matter?
First things first, does who picks up your phone calls really matter? The answer is obviously yes, it can make or break your practice. A practice without patients won’t last long and the person answering your phones (or responding to leads) is responsible for converting those leads into new patients. The good news is anyone with a solid understanding of your products, services and industry can be taught to convert leads into patients at a higher rate.
Who Should Answer Your Phones?
Ideally, someone who has a thorough understanding of your practice, the treatments/services you offer and the medical industry surrounding them. It’s as simple as that and yet, things can go very wrong. While answering a phone may seem like a task anyone can complete, how it’s done makes all the difference. Whether you’ve hired a call center, you have a receptionist on staff or you’re the MD and you’re taking the calls yourself – this blog post should help improve your businesses close rate.
Understand The Head Space of The Caller
There are some things it’s important to understand about the people who are calling into your practice for the first time. Understanding these items will improve call conversion rates:
- They are calling for a reason – It’s simple sales stuff. They’re calling because they have a problem and they want to investigate if your business may have the solution they need. It’s your job to convince them you do (as long as that’s the truth).
- They want to speak to a medical professional ASAP – Hands down, the best lead-to-patient ratios belong to the account we manage where the MD’s themselves are answering the phones. Why? See point number one in this list. MD’s are incredibly effective at isolating the ‘problem’ the caller has and can assess whether they have services that will solve the ‘problem’. If the MD feels they have a solution for the caller, the caller books an appointment and becomes a patient. Simple as that. Naturally, we understand not all MD’s are able to answer the phones but there is a lesson here for other medical practices.
- They want the least amount of commitment possible – avoid making new patients pay for treatment upfront. Avoid making them sign up for long-term contracts. If the services/treatment are effective for the patient they’ll keep coming back of their own volition.
- They will be in a very hesitant/timid and possibly delicate head space – this is one of the difficult realities specific to the medical industry. Callers are notoriously timid and can sometimes be in a fragile and difficult head-space. They are not shopping for a new car and therefore should not be spoken to as if they are.
- Like most people, they will respond well to credibility, transparency and reason.
Touch Points to Emphasize (if They are True for You):
- Avoid scripts. This is really an extension of point #4 above. Sales scripts may work in technology and retail industries but because they are impersonal they fail to convert in the medical industry. Avoid them and speak to people freely but intentionally.
- Watch the clock. Although this may seem to be in direct contrast to the bullet point above it’s actually more of a caveat. It’s good for the health of your business not to let these calls go on too long particularly because most callers will want to launch into their full medical history. Avoid this by asking them to fill out a medical history form to be submitted before their appointment and encourage them to book to speak directly with the doctor who can assess their personal situation more closely.
- Reassure callers that treatment can be attained quickly. Leads may already be shopping around for different treatment providers. Make sure you offer to schedule them quickly (ideally within a week or two) of their call.
- Reassure them that most patients respond to treatment quickly. This point is only valid if your products/services are of an on-going nature. For example, if six treatments are needed for full treatment, reassure them that they’ll at least notice a difference after their first appointment (if this is true of course).
- Payments are collected on a pay-as-you-go basis. As outlined above, if the treatment works patients will keep coming back. Avoid making new patients stomach exorbitant costs up-front.
- Explain insurance options (if applicable) – most callers will ask about insurance. If you do accept insurance, try to streamline this process as much as possible by publishing instructions and forms on your website for patients to access online.