Your practice may have the latest and greatest phone system on the market, but if your receptionist doesn’t know how to do his or her job properly, it really won’t matter much. When someone calls in, whether it’s a prospect or an existing client, the way your receptionist handles that call can make or break the outcome. If your agent(s) could use some brushing up on front desk skills, here are a few dos and don’ts to get your team pointed in the right direction.
Do start off on the right foot.
Letting calls go unanswered can give the wrong impression to callers. After several rings, some callers may begin to question whether or not it’s worth the wait. Others who are already on the fence about your services may become more uncertain and less likely to convert with each consecutive ring. Front desk skills should include the ability to multitask, which means your receptionist should be ready to answer all calls promptly and professionally, even if it means having to place the caller on a brief hold.
Don’t be unclear, use slang or industry jargon.
A receptionist who answers calls with a warm, friendly greeting and enunciates clearly elicits a sense of confidence in callers. To the contrary, if a caller has to ask whether they’ve reached the right business, try and decipher mumbling or figure out what certain terms or acronyms mean, it can paint your practice in a poor light.
Do be courteous when placing callers on hold.
When there’s a line of clients checking in or out, incoming calls will simply have to wait. The way your receptionist places those callers on hold, however, is important. Picking up the phone flustered and stating, “Please hold” while immediately pressing the hold button may be faster, but it won’t do much for the client experience. Callers should always be given the option and holding callers should be checked on every 30 to 45 seconds if possible. For longer waits, offering the option of continuing to hold or having the party in question call them back is recommended.
Don’t use speakerphone.
To some, this may seem like a no-brainer, but you may be surprised at how many receptionists lack this critical front desk skill. In most cases, veterinary clinics are bustling with activity, which makes them inherently noisy environments. Additionally, clients appreciate having their privacy protected – even if it’s the first call of the day and nobody’s in the clinic yet. Treat your clientele with respect and dignity by keeping their calls confidential.
Do be honest and forthcoming.
Your receptionist should never leave a caller feeling as though he or she is in the dark about what’s going on. For instance, in the event that the front desk agent has to double check on the answer to a particular question, the caller should be informed of that prior to being placed on hold. Likewise, if a call needs to be transferred, the caller should be made aware of why and to whom he or she is being transferred. People appreciate honesty and transparency, particularly from those with whom they do business.
Do take good notes.
There are many instances in which a call back is necessary, whether it’s a follow-up with answers from the receptionist or a call from one of the vets. In any event, clear and accurate note taking is among the most important front desk skills your receptionist should have. There is nothing more unprofessional than having to call someone back and ask for clarification after the fact – or worse, not be able to call back at all due to inaccurate or unclear message taking.
Don’t close the conversation on a bad note.
The goal should always be to end all calls on a professional note. For best results, call conclusions should include the use of the caller’s name and a reiteration of the “next steps,” whenever applicable. For instance, “Thanks so much for calling, Mrs. Smith. Your appointment is set for X date. Someone from our office will call you the day before as a friendly reminder.” If the caller is upset, close by saying something like: “I’m so sorry for this experience, Mr. Jones. As discussed, the doctor has been notified and you should expect to receive a call back no later than close of business today.”
Your front desk is the lifeblood of your business, which is why it’s so critical that your receptionist has solid front desk skills, including the ability to handle situations like those discussed above. This ensures that callers always enjoy as positive an experience with your practice as possible.
Could your team use a refresher in front desk training? Contact us today to get started.