In dental offices spanning the industry, striving to hit expectations fosters camaradery, teamwork, and a culture of consistent improvement. Positive, non-judgemental communication increases performance on an ongoing basis.
Why? For starters, positive feedback builds trust. In a recent Harvard Business Review survey, 58% of respondents said they trust strangers more than their boss. That’s a statistic you can work to change, starting within your own four walls.
Second, your employees are likely asking for it. PwC found that about 60% of staff members reported they’d like feedback on a daily or weekly basis, and more than three quarters of the survey participants said they believe that feedback is beneficial.
Third, it’s good for retention and business. A Gallup poll learned that employees who received feedback had almost a 15% lower turnover rate than employees who received virtually zero feedback.
When your front desk is unafraid to make mistakes, try new techniques, and grow professionally, you’ll see positive results. So how do you put that positivity into place on a realistic and consistent basis?
The most effective and tangible way to improve your front desk employees’ activity is to leverage the phone. Aside from helping in-office patients, your staff spends most of their day handling phone calls to enhance the lifeline of the practice, resolve patient concerns and disputes, assist patients with their dental needs, manage the appointment schedule, and more.
Consistently managing their phone performance is a great first step to instill a positive work environment, foster accountability, reduce turnover, and improve your managerial skills. Here are three techniques you can start implementing within your office today.
Listen to Phone Calls (Plenty of Services Will Do This for You)
Utilize your call tracking provider or platform to access your practice’s phone calls. Listening to calls gives you immediate and deep insight into what your phone handlers are telling patients, how they’re handling conversations, and areas where they may benefit from some training.
Score elements of each call based upon your team’s goals, identify trends, and, finally, share your findings with your team (more on this below). Furthermore, while one negative phone call may not be a reason to panic, it will help identify areas of improvement both you and your phone handlers can refine.
Elements to listen for on each call:
- Phone skills: Did the employee answer the call in a friendly manner, smile while speaking (when appropriate to do so), use the patient’s name, confirm the best callback number, listen to and address the patient’s concerns, overcome objections, invite the patient into the practice, and set clear expectations and instructions for his or her visit?
- Overall knowledge of the practice and services: Was the employee able to fully and accurately answer the patient’s questions? What does he or she do or say when unable to answer a question or address a concern?
- Phone process: How quickly was the caller connected to someone who could answer his or her questions or book an appointment?
- Potential red flags: Did the staff member sound rude or unprofessional toward the patient? Does the patient require followup, and/or should you set aside time with the staff member to discover what the issue was?
When you listen to calls to help each individual boost his or her phone performance, it can have significant benefits for your practice and overall appointment volume.
Hold Regular, One-on-One Meetings
One-on-one meetings are impactful when identifying areas for revampment and acknowledging when a front desk staff member is doing well. Consistent feedback delivery is the best way to ensure agents feel confident and comfortable asking questions, as well as attempting newly learned techniques. Moreover, it’s often awkward to candidly ask for feedback, so this process removes that cumbersome feeling, making feedback a more regular, acceptable practice.
Hold one-on-ones at whatever cadence works best for you and your team, but I’d recommend at least once per week to start. Consider these talking points during each session:
- Review your staff members’ phone performance through a scorecard centered around your key performance indicators. It will help streamline and enhance one-on-ones. (Imagine the efficiency of a one-on-one when both sides are aware of the strengths and weaknesses!)
- Identify areas for growth and improvement, and congratulate what’s going right.
- Allow the employee to ask any questions.
- Leave the employee with a game plan and recommended action items until your next meeting.
Dissect Calls As a Group
Group settings are beneficial because your front desk team can learn from each others’ questions. One person may ask something related to the phone that someone else had never thought of. Another may have encountered a particularly tricky scenario with a patient who called in that another staff member could benefit from learning how to handle in the future.
This is also a great platform for delivering praise. Share good calls in a group setting. Promote the behaviors you’re looking to develop in public, and you will see those behaviors catch on. Group settings are also great times to identify individuals. Share specific instances where an employee has excelled or improved.
When your front desk is calm and secure in knowing where they stand performance-wise, they’ll perform better and become more capable of making informed choices. If an employee feels afraid to make a mistake or is reprimanded without even knowing what he or she did wrong or how to fix it, the employee won’t feel equipped and confident to help patients calling in.
Given that almost half of all PwC survey respondents stated that they value feedback from their peers, yet less than 30% said they receive it often, what can you do at your practice to continuously provide helpful feedback and inspire employees to want to improve? Managing their phone activity is a powerful start.
If you employ any of these three techniques or have your own scorecard already, I’m curious to hear how it’s going. Give me a shout at email@example.com, or check out how I work with dental practices and groups daily here.
Mr. Johnson is Top Problem Solver at Call Box. Doctors and owners call Corey to increase their bottom line through enhancing the patient experience over the phone and converting more opportunities. Corey earned his MBA from the University of Delaware and graduated from the University of North Carolina, where he studied how the power of data can affect organizational change. To learn more about Call Box and our innovative tools to help your practice leverage the phone, visit callbox.com/dental or call (833) 259-9484.