With so much technology at our fingertips today, it’s easy to forget how important talking on the phone is for a business. The veterinary industry is no exception. In fact, with the front desk being the first point of contact for a majority of your new business as well as ongoing support for your existing clientele, it’s clear that phone handling is one of biggest the keys to success. If you want your receptionist to really wow your callers, here are three essential front desk skills to establish.
One of the golden rules of mastering the business phone call is being prepared in advance. This is why front desk training and scripting is so critical, as it prepares your receptionist to handle any situation that may come his or her way. Front desk skills like smiling before picking up the phone, being friendly yet professional and doing everything possible to resolve the call the first time are all things that can help your receptionist be ready for anything.
Callers want to feel as though the person on the other end is confident and knowledgeable. Awkward silences, dodging questions, long hold times and the dreaded “I don’t know,” are all things you want to avoid, as they can paint your practice in a poor light and drive away prospective new business. Investing in front desk training can help your receptionist feel more confident in his or her ability to perform the job well, which will in turn improve the experience for callers.
It’s also a good idea to sit down and brainstorm all the common types of calls and various situations that might occur so that you can create guidelines for how each one should be addressed. For instance, training your receptionist how to avoid price quoting and how to instead persuade prospective clients to schedule a meet and greet with the vet can ultimately boost your practice’s bottom line.
Another important component of wowing clients over the phone is the ability to keep them engaged. This is why active listening is among the most critical front desk skills a receptionist can have. The ability to listen intently and gather all pertinent information is the key to ensuring that callers’ needs are adequately met.
This also involves asking the right questions. Digging deeper can clear up any uncertainties and provide your receptionist with the details he or she needs to deliver exceptional service. Furthermore, repeating back the point discussed with the caller will help avoid potential miscommunications. Reiterating or rephrasing the main points discussed shows your clients and prospects that they’re being heard, which can go a long way toward creating and nurturing loyalty.
In addition to listening, asking questions and reiterating key points, training your receptionist to take appropriate notes is also important from a client engagement standpoint. Telephone conversations can happen very quickly, making it easy to forget about the main point. Just a few important details jotted down can help jog the memory later so that there is less lag time and hopefully fewer follow-ups needed.
Calm, Confident Professionalism
Anyone can handle a happy caller. It’s the difficult ones that pose the real challenge. With the right front desk skills, however, there’s a chance that even the most disgruntled caller can not only be appeased, but also won back. It’s all in the way the situation is handled by the receptionist.
First and foremost, consciously making an effort to smile throughout the interaction can really make a significant difference in the call’s outcome. That’s because smiling changes the tone of your voice when speaking, making it naturally warmer and more friendly. And since tone accounts for 84% of the message of a phone call, it’s kind of a big deal. A calm, open tone can quickly diffuse a tense situation.
It’s also important that your receptionist counts confidence as one of his or her top front desk skills. Why? Because when people are convinced of the value of the service being provided, they are far more effective. Remaining confident in the face of difficulty can improve the outcome of a potentially negative phone call. Just be careful to avoid overconfidence, as this can have the opposite effect.
The phone is the hub of your practice’s growth. Keeping the above three front desk skills in mind and investing in the training and ongoing support of your receptionist can help drive client experience to a whole new level.
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