Getting an interested caller to book an appointment is critical to your practice’s success.
In fact, it costs five times more in marketing dollars to get that phone to ring than it does to ensure your current patients come to you when they need new devices.
That’s not peanuts, and it adds up — fast.
But you can turn callers into customers with these three steps.
1. USE THE FIVE KEY ELEMENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL PHONE CALL
Body language heavily influences first impressions and decision-making ability.
That means right when you pick up the phone, you’re at a disadvantage — the caller can’t read most of your nonverbal cues.
So how can you cultivate a strong first impression over the phone?
Use your tone of voice and word choice effectively and professionally:
- Use emphasis and vary your pitch.
- Address them by name two or three times during the call.
- Smile — it will make you sound warm, enthusiastic, and caring.
- Speak clearly, confidently, and with good volume.
- Let the caller speak without interruption, then repeat back what you heard.
- Answer the caller’s questions and encourage a dialogue, so you understand their needs and concerns.
In short, build a rapport with the caller! At the end, don’t forget to thank them for calling — regardless of whether they book an appointment — and let them know you appreciate their time.
Most importantly, listen to a few recorded calls so you can identify and practice any problem areas.
Greeting & Introduction
Always try to answer a ringing phone within two or three rings. That quick response shows that you value the caller’s time.
Provide the practice name, identify yourself, and ask how you can help the caller. Reassure them you can help with their problem or question, and ask how they heard about your practice.
Avoid putting the caller on hold. If you must, though, ask permission first — for example, “May I place you on hold a moment?” — wait for a response, then put them on hold. Reassure them periodically that you’re still on the line. Thank them when you return to the call.
You want to understand the patient’s unique lifestyle and needs, so the provider will be well prepared for the consultation.
Do this by asking open-ended questions — it engages the caller, builds rapport, and pulls them toward you. When you make statements or talk too much, you push the patient away.
But don’t lock your questions into a certain order. Let the conversation flow according to the caller’s needs and responses. At a minimum, get the caller’s name, whether they’re calling on behalf of another, the pain points, hearing aid status, and when their last hearing test was conducted, if applicable.
Always gather contact information, if possible. If the patient doesn’t book an appointment, they can still be entered into your database for later outreach.
Be sure to communicate the practice message at some point during the call.
The practice message is a short statement clearly communicating the benefits each patient receives from your services and products. If your practice doesn’t have one, develop one — it’s a crucial part of the patient experience.
Crafting an effective practice message requires careful consideration of your practice and market. “We have the best audiologists in town!” isn’t enough.
An example of a practice message might be, “We do things a little differently here — we customize your experience to your needs. We learn all about you, from how your hearing impacts your life to what it would mean to you to hear better.”
It needs to be:
- Focused on what patients value
- Easily understood and remembered
What sets your practice apart? This defines your practice to your patients. Put these elements together to create your practice’s unique message.
Ask each caller to make an appointment (obviously). But what’s the best way?
Phrase it as a “yes-yes” question; for example, “I have open appointments on Tuesday morning or Thursday afternoon — which works better for you?”
This makes you seem flexible and increases the caller’s likelihood of making an appointment.
If they seem hesitant, try to validate any objections and answer any underlying concerns.
2. USE AN INBOUND CALLING CHECKLIST
Engaging the caller makes your practice stand out from the competition and gets appointments booked. They won’t even realize your engagement is information gathering, especially if you have a checklist of questions so the conversation is seamless.
Your inbound-calling checklist should have the following to ensure you’re gathering the right data:
- The caller’s name — “Hi, my name is Taylor. What’s yours?”
- The caller’s status — “Are you calling for yourself or someone else?”
- Their hearing aid status — “Are you currently wearing hearing aids? How long have you had them?”
- Engaging, open-ended questions — “What kinds of things do you like to do that are impacted by your hearing?”
- Their level of daily difficulty — “What difficulties made you decide to give us a call?”
- When their last test was — “How long ago was your last hearing test?”
- Contact info — “I have your phone number. May I have your home or email address to follow up with you?”
3. BUILD VALUE WITH TRANSACTIONAL CALLERS
You’ll encounter four types of callers, and you should be able to recognize each of them.
Partnership callers want someone who will truly go the extra mile to understand and meet their specific needs. They have a high relationship need and a high information need.
Relationship callers want to be understood fully and deeply, and they want to be helped. In short, they want a relationship with your practice.
Informational callers have done their research and now want information on your products, appointment process, providers, and so on. They want their research and decision to be validated. They have a high need for information but a low need for a relationship.
Transactional callers want the right product at the lowest price, and they want it quickly. They have a low need for a relationship with your practice, and they don’t want lots of information.
Motivating the Transactional Caller
Unlike the other three types, a transactional caller focuses on price.
But here’s what they really want to know: Are the perceived benefits of a purchase worth the price?
Key to motivating them is understanding their perception of benefits, and then changing their perception.
Common transactional-caller concerns are:
- They plan to spend hours calling every person on the internet or in the phone book to research this issue.
- They have a friend or family member with hearing aids who scored a terrific deal, and they’ve had a great experience with their technology. That loved one is an advocate — but only for those hearing aids at that great price.
- They currently wear hearing aids but aren’t having a good experience.
If you simply state a price, you don’t have a chance to build value in their mind. You’re putting yourself on an equal playing field with the wrong players: price-based competitors.
Start asking open-ended questions. Build engagement and rapport. What prompted them to call? What are they — or their loved ones — experiencing? Is the person in question currently wearing hearing aids?
Dive into it. Show your concern and knowledge. The more you can show it’s a nuanced process, the more value they start to see.
Discover additional ways to convert and retain more patients.