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Telephone Skills Office Management
Importance of the Telephone • Difficult to conduct business without the telephone • 80% of customer contact is provided by telephone • Everyone is responsible for the practice’s client service reputation including • Those who meet face to face with clients • Those who talk to clients on the phones • Doctors and technicians
Answering & Greeting • Within seconds from the time you pick up the phone you begin to develop a rapport with the caller. • Be polite, you may have answered the phone several times, but this may be the first time this person is calling and speaking with you • Remember: you never get a second chance to make a first impression….so make it count the first time!
Features of the Telephone • Take time to learn about the telephone system and features ahead of time. Don’t practice on the caller. • Hold • Transfer • 3-way calling • Intercom • Speaker phone
Handling the Telephone • Hold transmitter directly in front of mouth so you will be understood • Speaking on the telephone requires better articulation than is necessary in face to face conversations • Avoid unnecessary noises • Avoid side conversations • Never eat/drink while talking • Answer in as few rings as possible (Max of 3)
Important Elements of a Good Telephone Introduction • The tone of your voice • How fast you talk • The volume of your voice • The words you say: • A warm, friendly greeting • The full name of your hospital • Your name • A question that offers your assistance • Ex: Good morning, VTI Animal Clinic, this is Adam, how may I help you?
Addressing the Caller • When addressing a male • Mr. • Sir • When addressing a female • Miss /mis/ = unmarried • Mrs. /misis or misiz/ = married • Ms. /miz/ = married or unmarried • First name • If the caller suggest you call them by their first name • You have established a good rapport over a period of time • You know the caller and they are comfortable with a first name basis
Using the Hold Button • Use sparingly • Don’t be too quick to put caller on hold • Ask caller if you can put them on hold and WAIT FOR AN ANSWER • Leave caller on hold for only 30 – 60 seconds before coming back with them with an update or answer • If you have several callers on hold, remember the priority of each call (make notes) • Play soft soothing music or pet care tips • When you reconnect with caller, immediately thank her for holding
Empathetic Statements • Expresses your understanding in response to what your caller has told you • “I can understand…” • “I can understand your concern about Fluffy.” • “I can appreciate…” • “ I can certainly appreciate how hard it is for you to make this decision about King.” • What other empathetic statements can you come up with?
Asking Questions to Assess Needs • “How old is Duke?” • “When was he last examined?” • “What vaccinations has Tippy had in the last year?” • “What other pets do you have at home?”
Asking Questions to Assess Needs continued… • Asking questions does the following: • Gives you valuable information • Helps you communicate better with your doctors and technicians • Makes you appear knowledgeable • Assist you in scheduling enough time for appts. • Distinguishes you for competition • Shows you care • Makes caller feel good • Makes a good impression
Tips for Good Listening • Stop talking • Put the caller at ease • Help caller feel free to talking by treating them as a friend • Show caller that you want to listen • Sound and act interested • Remove distractions • Empathize with caller • Put yourself in their position to better understand their needs • Be polite, don’t interrupt • Don’t respond defensively • Ager will distort the flow of communication • Avoid argument or criticism • Ask questions; then actively listen
Managing Objections • Objection = the caller is opposed to the proposed plan of action • How to overcome this? • Listen to what the caller says • Always provide an immediate response • State the response in clear and positive terms • Do not provide unnecessary information and conversation
Example of Managing Objections • Client: • Objection: “Your prices see high and I think I should shop around and compare prices before I make an appointment.” • You: • “Please do. Our client tell us we are very price competitive. We pride ourselves on offering the highest quality of medical care to protect your animal’s health. May I set up an appointment for you on Thursday morning at 9am?
Follow-up Call • If you can not follow up with every client, there are certain situations where it should be done • Nothing went right • A situation where despite everyone’s best efforts, nothing goes right. Once problems have been corrected, call client to determine is everything is now satisfactory • The Irate Client • Follow-up with every complaint. By calling to ask if the action you initiated was satisfactory, the client will be pleasantly surprised to hear from you
Follow-up Call continued… • A new client • Extend an extra courtesy with a follow up call to see if everything is satisfactory. This will enhance the client’s perception of your practice and repeat visits will be likely. • A difficult case • Clients will appreciate your concern and be reassured. Also helps to ensure compliance with medical instructions
Outbound Service Call • Follow these steps • Greet client in a friendly way • Introduce yourself and your practice • State the purpose of the call • Deliver your message in a friendly, clear and businesslike manner, leaving room for questions • State any client benefits • Ask for agreement
Delivering Bad News • We all make mistakes • Be honest with your client • Inform them of mistakes as soon as possible • 2 approaches when delivering bad news • Direct approach • Good news/Bad news
Delivering Bad News continued • Direct approach: • “Good morning, Mr. King. This is Krista from VTI Animal Clinic. Do you have a moment? I need to talk to you about your bill. I made a mistake when I added it up yesterday. I told you it would be $287.00, but eh correct amount is $337.00. I apologize for the error, but I wanted to let you know right away. I’ll make sure to have an itemized statement ready when you come in so you can check the charges for yourself. I hope I can cont on your understanding on this.”
Delivering Bad News continued • Good news/Bad news approach • “Good morning, Mr. King. This is Krista from VTI Animal Clinic. I’m calling to let you know that I confirmed Sugar’s surgical appointment for Friday at 9am. I also wanted to let you know that I misquoted the amount on the surgical estimate I gave you. I told you it would be $287.00, but it really is $337.00. I added wrong. I apologize for the error, and hope I can count on your understanding on this.”
Closing the Conversation • Thank the caller for calling • Let the client know you appreciate his/her business • Provide assurance that any promises will be fulfilled • Leave the client with a positive feeling • Ex: • “Thank you for calling. We appreciate your choosing our hospital.” • “Thanks for you inquiry.” • “Feel free to call us any time.” • “We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday.” • “If you have any additional questions, please call me.”
Role Play • Partner up (groups of 2) and practice “answering” the phone as you would if you were in a clinic • Role play a situation in which you were having to deliver bad news • Practice outbound service calls