In our post “Who Do You Want to Answer Your Patient Phone Calls?” we discussed that having a real person answer your practice’s after-hours calls is the first step to produce successful outcomes. But the second element is just as important. This is the demeanor of the person who answers the phone.
They must be professional, with an appropriate amount of personal interaction. Sometimes, however, overzealous telephone personnel without the proper training can become too friendly. You don’t want your patients and after-hours callers to encounter a cringe-worthy response when they call your office.
Here are some warning signs that your answering service staff might be too friendly. Ask yourselves these questions:
Do They Share Unnecessary Personal Information?
One technique to connect with people is to share an appropriate amount of personal information. Not a lot, but just a little, and only when it’s called for.
Yet some people open their mouth and spew forth all manner of personal information that is unnecessary for the situation and inappropriate for brief healthcare conversations, such as what your answering service may have with your patients.
These people should not be answering your phone calls, yet some answering services employ them anyway. But you don’t need to accept this type of too friendly interaction. Accomplished medical telephone answering services know better and don’t subject you and your callers to this unfitting behavior.
Do They Use Inappropriate Slang?
The second type of too friendly telephone interaction is the use of inappropriate slang. Yes, most of us use slang from time to time. The healthcare profession overflows with medical jargon. But that’s not what we’re talking about. This isn’t the concern.
The issue is using inappropriate slang. This is speech that’s unsuitable in a professional healthcare setting. It’s unbecoming language that could shock your callers and might even cause them to blush. This approach is too casual and has no place in your telephone answering service.
Do They Have a Nickname for Your Patients?
Some people—too many, it seems—like to shorten names. But if the caller says her name is Samantha, she won’t appreciate being called Sam—or Sammi. Yet too many telephone representatives are quick to jump to this shorthand.
Your answering service should always refer to patients by the name your patient gives, exactly as the patient gives it. Don’t resort to using a nickname unless the caller gives permission to do so.
A related issue is labeling a patient based on their situation. These nicknames are derogatory designations that untrained telephone representatives may use to refer to your patients when talking to you and your staff. Examples might be Mr. Paranoid or Samantha “Psycho” Smith. There’s no place for this in the healthcare setting. This includes your medical answering service.
You hire a medical answering service to represent you to your patients. You have every right to expect their interactions with your callers to present a professional image and not be too friendly.