Many Doctor’s and Refractive Coordinators are so swamped with the details of doing their job. The daily level of office activity leads to the false assumption that their phones must have been answered properly to have generated such a huge volume of work. Time and again, when real calls are recorded and reviewed, we see that Administrator’s and Doctor’s preconception of these calls does not necessarily match their reality.
We recently made over 1000 secret shop calls to practices nationally. During this time, we were able to reach a counselor directly only 66% of the time! The other 33% of calls were either transferred to voicemail, or asked to leave a message. Of the counselors reached directly, just under 1/3 of them, or in total about 18% of the calls, resulted in any effort to keep us as an active lead. We were amazed that in this economy so little attention to call handling is being made.
Many practices boast a 90% phone inquiry to consult conversion, but don’t actually capture every lead. In effect they only convert 50-60% of their inquiries into consultations because the only calls documented are those where the caller is willing to commit to a consultation easily and now. Everyone else became a lost lead. Talk about missed opportunity!
Here’s the “Monarch Note Version”… and the first few ways to improve your refractive calls and avoid the average practice’s pitfalls.
1. Ensure that your staff is kind and correct on every call.
2. Call your own office as a patient to experience and improve upon your own front office
3. Research your competition and improve upon their style
4. Allow your staff to answer refractive calls uninterrupted
The stakes are high when each incoming call represents upwards of $5000 a pair of eyes. If the initial caller does not enter your financial funnel, most likely they will find another. Our point, lead capture is essential when in today’s market and economy every call counts. It’s about quality over quantity. It’s the same reason that Circuit City is out while Best Buy survives. Extra credit if you can tell which one had better customer care. The ACE program’s crux is lead capture and cultivation, but that’s not all. There is much more involved in maximizing your potential along with bettering your potential client’s experience.
Treating LASIK and IOL callers as if they were regular ophthalmology patients calling for the first time is one of the biggest mistakes that practices make. Answering refractive calls like this……“Can you please hold? ,” or, “ The price? Oh it’s $2600 per eye. Is that all?, “ Ok then, bye now.” …are more common than you can imagine and have a grave effect on the bottom line. Remember, these folks do not consider themselves to be patients of yours yet, nor do they have the time or patience to deal with poor service.
In actuality, phones are often answered by unprepared, uninformed, unenthused and often uncaring staff. Most of us experience poor customer service in some form every day, but when delivered over the phone it is most frustrating. When poorly treated, the customer’s choice is to deal with it or go elsewhere. “Can you please hold?” Most people don’t want to!
Our goal as a leader in the ophthalmology industry should be to always stand out as exceptional. There are no second chances to make a first impression. A bad first impression in the competitive LASIK and IOL market, simply leads to your potential customer finding someone else. It’s hard to imagine how disposable your premium IOL and LASIK services really are. On recorded calls from practices across the country, we often hear the same potential client shopping price at competing practices. We’re here to tell you from experience, you are disposable until the caller has decided that you are the right place for them. The defining factor inevitably is call handling.
But how do you make the consumer realize that you are the best choice? The answer is to match your perception to your reality, and to become as excellent as you think you can be.
With our ACE program, we have the ability to listen to real patient calls for practices, we monitor every call. On average, before the ACE program is implemented, most practices were losing 30% of their new lasik leads by not capturing any information from the patient before ending the call. With a few changes we start with a goal to eliminate “lost leads”.
We’ve proven them a thing of the past for most practices that positively implement our ideals. Alright already…here’s the rest of our tips;
5. Capture every lead routinely
6. Ensure that calls follow a format that maximizes the potential of gaining new business
7. Assign informed and well educated counselor’s to handle your LASIK and IOL calls
8. Script your refractive calls in advance so you can dependably predict the outcome
9. Prepare to make mistakes and accept that they will be made. The key is to learn from them while maintaining morale which ultimately reflects on your call quality.
Imagine if every call were handled as if the caller had reached the most knowledgeable and kindest person in your office, every time, without interruptions or unnecessary holds. That’s our perception. It’s up to you to match our perception to what could be your own reality. We are here to empower you to do so. You may soon be busier than you ever imagined.
About the author of this article: Bill Mercier is the president and CEO of OptiCall, Inc, a provider of consumer communications solutions for the refractive industry which increases conversion rates of prospective callers into viable patient consultations.