The Power of the First Phone Call in the Patient Experience

Posted by Kristin Baird on May 16th, 2016 • No Comments »

Imagine that you have a sick child. She’s been running a fever all night, and you’ve been anxiously awaiting the magic hour of 9:00 AM when the doctor’s office opens. You dial the phone, and it rings seven times which feels like an eternity. A female voice answers, speaking so rapidly that you can barely make out her monologue which is, “Pediatrics, hold please. Click.” From there you are left holding for four minutes, crying baby in your arms. What message have you just received from that encounter? It could be that you feel like they’re too busy for you, and your baby. Or maybe you feel like they just don’t care. Either way, it hasn’t been a good impression – and that’s the patient experience so far.

Phone calls are often the first live encounter with an organization, and the brand. That single call can set the tone for the relationship. It will determine whether or not a caller will become a patient, or move on to a competitor.

There are several distinct elements of a phone call that will determine a caller’s experience. We’ve collected data from thousands of mystery shopping phone calls, and analyzed them to determine exactly what has the greatest effect on a caller’s willingness to return or recommend the organization. That data has reinforced the design of our phone training series, and has given us the tools to help managers know exactly which phone skills are most crucial for their call attendants.

Mystery Shopping

In our mystery shopping assessments over the years, we’ve made thousands of calls to healthcare organizations throughout the country, and found the good, the bad and the downright ugly. We’ve experienced some of the best, most compassionate and empathetic attendants; to some of the rudest and most impatient. Although the richest part of mystery shopping is the narratives about how the encounter made them feel, there are scores to help determine where you should focus your attention.

In our latest white paper, The Power of the First Phone Call, we’ve analyzed multiple elements of the call to determine what exactly determines whether or not they would return or recommend. We’ve also created an infographic that gives a visual summary of the findings. One of the most startling findings is that 35% of first time callers are not likely to return. When you think about all the money that is spent to bring in new business, it’s horrifying to think that more than one third are turned off when they reach out.

You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Don’t overlook the thousands of telephone encounters happening in your organization every single day. They can make or break your reputation, and the bottom line.

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Baird Consulting

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