Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Phone Answering Skills

Phone answering skills are critical for businesses. The telephone is still most business's primary point of contact with customers. And the way you answer your company's phone will form your customer's first impression of your business. These phone answering tips will ensure that callers know they're dealing with a winning business:

1) Answer all incoming phone calls before the third ring.

2) When you answer the phone, be warm and enthusiastic. Your voice at the end of the telephone line is sometimes the only impression of your company a caller will get.

3) When answering the phone, welcome callers courteously and identify yourself and your organization. Say, for instance, "Good morning. Cypress Technologies. Susan speaking. How may I help you?" No one should ever have to ask if they've reached such and such a business.

4) Enunciate clearly, keep your voice volume moderate, and speak slowly and clearly when answering the phone, so your caller can understand you easily.

5) Control your language when answering the phone. Don't use slang or jargon. Instead of saying, "OK", or "No problem", for instance, say "Certainly", "Very well", or "All right". If you're a person who uses fillers when you speak, such as "uh huh", "um", or phrases such as "like" or "you know", train yourself carefully not to use these when you speak on the phone.

6) Train your voice and vocabulary to be positive when phone answering, even on a "down" day. For example, rather than saying, "I don't know", say, "Let me find out about that for you."

7) Take telephone messages completely and accurately. If there's something you don't understand or can't spell, such as a person's surname, ask the caller to repeat it or spell it for you. Then make sure the message gets to the intended recipient.

8) Answer all your calls within one business day.

9) Always ask the caller if it's all right to put her on hold when answering the phone, and don't leave people on hold. Provide callers on hold with progress reports every 30 to 45 seconds. Offer them choices if possible, such as "That line is still busy. Will you continue to hold or should I have ________ call you back?"

10) If you use an answering machine to answer calls when you can't, make sure that you have a professional message recorded, that does the same thing as tip # 3, and gives callers any other pertinent information before it records their messages. Update your answering machine message as needed. For instance, if your business is going to be closed for a holiday, update your recorded answering machine message to say so and to say when your business will reopen.

Remember the phone call is the only impression the caller is left with, make it a positive one, thanks.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Do you want to be better than just good?

Trying something new, going out on a limb – it can be a scary and sometimes expensive proposition. But...

“Why not go out on a limb? That is where the fruit is.” - Will Rogers

Let’s face it, we are creatures of habit, we stop at the same coffee house each morning, take the same route to work, check our emails and facebook page, and work each day into the next.

For many Ophthalmic practices, sticking to their true and tried methods of memorable patient care and scrutinizing the bottom line has and will continue to serve good enough. But is good enough really good enough? In the spirit of constant pursuit of improvement and profitability, we all should look for new ways, new ideas, and new approaches that not only compliment our successful methods of yesterday, but will ensure a successful business for tomorrow.

So rather than engage in the all too common, bland, and frankly unproductive method of pointing out the obvious issues practices struggle with, today I’d like to share with you actual success that practices are experiencing right now by trying something new.BoomerangTM – A Patient Reactivation program that focuses on bringing back your “lost” managed care patients. To define “lost” we are referring to your existing patients that are due or overdue for routine vision care appointments at which your traditional patient recall methods of yesterday have failed at bringing these patients back to you.

BoomerangTM Benefit Facts;
• Practices are benefiting on average of $10,000 of incremental revenue each month (based on conservative average appointment value of $150)
• Increased surgical volume such as LASIK and Cataract procedures.
• Doctor’s schedules are being filled.
• On average expect a 500% ROI

How BoomerangTM Works;
 We partner with Brevium Inc. to install their patient reactivation technology, which syncs with your practice management system and identifies patients that are due or over due for appointments.
 Our patient counselor personally calls your patients and schedules them directly into your practice management system.
 Monthly reports are provided showing quantity of patients scheduled and revenue generated from these efforts.

How Much Does BoomerangTM Cost?
 One time set up fee $750
 $300 fee per month up to 3 doctors
 $99 fee per month each additional doctor when applicable
 $25 per appointment scheduled and KEPT

What Others Are Saying
 BoomerangTM has saved numerous 'archaic' hours of tedious chart pulling for recall. I can honestly say it is extremely exciting to utilize, reporting is amazing, and the results are instantaneous!

 In two years BoomerangTM program has added 446 cataract surgeries, 7,426 patients reactivated and over $2.78 million in receipts.

 In just 12 months BoomerangTM program has added 200 cataract surgeries, 2,104 patients reactivated and over $380,000 in receipts.

BoomerangTM Guarantee
 Guarantee positive ROI or your money back.

To learn more or start your 3 month trial, please feel free to contact us at (941) 893-2400.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Nine Ways to Avoid the Average Practice’s Pitfalls in Refractive Call Handling.

Many Doctor’s and Refractive Coordinators are so swamped with the details of doing their job. The daily level of office activity leads to the false assumption that their phones must have been answered properly to have generated such a huge volume of work. Time and again, when real calls are recorded and reviewed, we see that Administrator’s and Doctor’s preconception of these calls does not necessarily match their reality.

We recently made over 1000 secret shop calls to practices nationally. During this time, we were able to reach a counselor directly only 66% of the time! The other 33% of calls were either transferred to voicemail, or asked to leave a message. Of the counselors reached directly, just under 1/3 of them, or in total about 18% of the calls, resulted in any effort to keep us as an active lead. We were amazed that in this economy so little attention to call handling is being made.

Many practices boast a 90% phone inquiry to consult conversion, but don’t actually capture every lead. In effect they only convert 50-60% of their inquiries into consultations because the only calls documented are those where the caller is willing to commit to a consultation easily and now. Everyone else became a lost lead. Talk about missed opportunity!

Here’s the “Monarch Note Version”… and the first few ways to improve your refractive calls and avoid the average practice’s pitfalls.

1. Ensure that your staff is kind and correct on every call.
2. Call your own office as a patient to experience and improve upon your own front office
3. Research your competition and improve upon their style
4. Allow your staff to answer refractive calls uninterrupted

The stakes are high when each incoming call represents upwards of $5000 a pair of eyes. If the initial caller does not enter your financial funnel, most likely they will find another. Our point, lead capture is essential when in today’s market and economy every call counts. It’s about quality over quantity. It’s the same reason that Circuit City is out while Best Buy survives. Extra credit if you can tell which one had better customer care. The ACE program’s crux is lead capture and cultivation, but that’s not all. There is much more involved in maximizing your potential along with bettering your potential client’s experience.

Treating LASIK and IOL callers as if they were regular ophthalmology patients calling for the first time is one of the biggest mistakes that practices make. Answering refractive calls like this……“Can you please hold? ,” or, “ The price? Oh it’s $2600 per eye. Is that all?, “ Ok then, bye now.” …are more common than you can imagine and have a grave effect on the bottom line. Remember, these folks do not consider themselves to be patients of yours yet, nor do they have the time or patience to deal with poor service.

In actuality, phones are often answered by unprepared, uninformed, unenthused and often uncaring staff. Most of us experience poor customer service in some form every day, but when delivered over the phone it is most frustrating. When poorly treated, the customer’s choice is to deal with it or go elsewhere. “Can you please hold?” Most people don’t want to!

Our goal as a leader in the ophthalmology industry should be to always stand out as exceptional. There are no second chances to make a first impression. A bad first impression in the competitive LASIK and IOL market, simply leads to your potential customer finding someone else. It’s hard to imagine how disposable your premium IOL and LASIK services really are. On recorded calls from practices across the country, we often hear the same potential client shopping price at competing practices. We’re here to tell you from experience, you are disposable until the caller has decided that you are the right place for them. The defining factor inevitably is call handling.

But how do you make the consumer realize that you are the best choice? The answer is to match your perception to your reality, and to become as excellent as you think you can be.

With our ACE program, we have the ability to listen to real patient calls for practices, we monitor every call. On average, before the ACE program is implemented, most practices were losing 30% of their new lasik leads by not capturing any information from the patient before ending the call. With a few changes we start with a goal to eliminate “lost leads”.

We’ve proven them a thing of the past for most practices that positively implement our ideals. Alright already…here’s the rest of our tips;

5. Capture every lead routinely
6. Ensure that calls follow a format that maximizes the potential of gaining new business
7. Assign informed and well educated counselor’s to handle your LASIK and IOL calls
8. Script your refractive calls in advance so you can dependably predict the outcome
9. Prepare to make mistakes and accept that they will be made. The key is to learn from them while maintaining morale which ultimately reflects on your call quality.

Imagine if every call were handled as if the caller had reached the most knowledgeable and kindest person in your office, every time, without interruptions or unnecessary holds. That’s our perception. It’s up to you to match our perception to what could be your own reality. We are here to empower you to do so. You may soon be busier than you ever imagined.

About the author of this article: Bill Mercier is the president and CEO of OptiCall, Inc, a provider of consumer communications solutions for the refractive industry which increases conversion rates of prospective callers into viable patient consultations.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

10 Core Values of Zappos

This is from the book Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos):

1. Deliver WOW Through Service
2. Embrace and Drive Change
3. Create Fun and a Little Weirdness
4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
5. Pursue Growth and Learning
6. Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication
7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
8. Do More with Less
9. Be Passionate and Determined
10. Be Humble

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Have You Seen Bob Lately?

Initial Patient Presentation:
• 53 year old Male
• Cable repairman
• Last visited your office 2 years ago
• Bob is due for a vision check probably new glasses/contacts
• Bob is overdue for a glaucoma check

Patient Report:
• Bob has been in for a visit every year for the past 15 years until recently
• At last check, Bob had 20/200 vision
• Bob's family has a history of glaucoma
• Bob is nearsighted AND wears reading glasses
• Bob is married and has 4 grown children; all with their own families

Current Treatment:
• Wears soft daily wear contacts, glasses and readers
• Follow up plan: Annually

Bob is a prime example of your typical patient who needs to return for a check. He is also a personal reference for your practice through word of mouth to his spouse, children, and grandchildren. Practices today have thousands of patients who are overdue for their appointments, but simply have not made the effort to call and schedule.

Although most practices will send letters in an attempt to rebook overdue appointments, many patients do not make the effort to schedule on their own. While these practices may have a plan in place to reactivate patients, the results aren't meeting their full potential. Each patient represents an opportunity for thousands of dollars to your bottom line.

OptiCall's Patient Reactivation Program, aka Boomerang, powered by Brevium, identifies these "lost" patients in your system. Our professionally trained team of phone counselors will personally call your lost patients and schedule them directly into your practice management system.

• Traditional recall efforts <50% response rate
• Cancellations and no shows add another 8% in lost monthly revenue
• A new patient costs a practice 5-6 times more than it does to retain an existing patient

• In 2010, our average practice has experienced in excess of 150 reactivated scheduled appointments each month.
• At a value of $150-$500 value per appointment, this program can generate up to $22,500 or higher each month!
• With similar results, you will have the ability to generate up to $270,000 or HIGHER annually.

1. Offset recent Medicare reimbursement cuts.
2. Offset Refractive Surgery slump.
3. Fill gaps in schedules.
4. Increase surgery volume.
5. Improve patient outcomes.
6. Increase optical sales.
7. Review and update patient records.
8. Powered by BREVIUM Totall Recall Software, we set the parameters by the appointment type, and provider, which you would like called.
9. Measure results through detailed reporting
10. "Plant the seed" for LASIK and Premium IOL's for the cataract and eye exams we schedule for your office.
11. Low monthly fee with guaranteed positive return in your first full month, or your money back!

Testimonial from Melanie Boyd - Administrator: Eye Consultants of Texas:
"The Boomerang Program has been very successful in filling our schedule. We booked 276 new appointments in our first 4 weeks of the program!"

Testimonial from Nancy Shipley - Chief Executive Officer, Ophthalmic Consultants of the Capital Region:
"Our practice has averaged approximately 140 new patients per month from the Boomerang Program. Our practice, to date, has had a 660% return on investment from our relationship with OptiCall. We started the program in mid December, 2009, and continue to run the program monthly. We are sending all current recalls to OptiCall monthly as they continue to call the remaining available people."

Don't Leave Your LOST Patients Hanging! Live Web Demo August 18th at 4 pm EST

Click Here to Register: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/529438970