The first thing most people ask when looking for a new answering service is, “What are your rates?” They don’t say this because it’s the best question, but because it’s the one they most readily understand. But this won’t help anyone find the best medical answering service.
If you care about your callers and desire to pursue quality, this is the worst question to ask. Focusing on price is a race to the bottom, not finding the best answering service but the cheapest one.
Answering services that strive to offer the lowest prices must cut corners if they want to stay in business. This might mean that they’re understaffed and unable to answer all your calls. Or they may cut supervision or their quality assurance (QA) program. Or it could be they don’t pay their staff enough to retain them, with their clients suffering the fallout from ongoing turnover.
It’s hard for low-cost providers to offer high quality service. To hold their rates down, they don’t invest in training their staff, or, even worse, they use on-the-job training where their employees learn how to do their job by practicing on your calls. No one wants that.
An answering service’s biggest expense is payroll. This means that the simplest way to lower their rates is to reduce their labor costs. So they pay their employees less and offer few or no benefits. The result is in their best employees leaving when a better paying job comes along. And their not-so-good employees, who can’t find a better job, stick around forever.
Another area that’s often seriously lacking in bargain answering services is staff supervision. Entry-level employees need oversight to ensure that they continue doing the job they’re supposed to do. Without persistent, on-site management they’re prone to not take their work seriously, goof off whenever possible, and take the easy path on every phone call—even if it’s contrary to what the client wants.
Bargain-basement-priced answering services seldom have the latest technology. Instead, they’re often limping along with obsolete equipment and buggy software that they struggle to keep running and which lacks the features you need.
Coupled with older technology is increased downtime. In addition to more service interruptions, due to aging equipment and obsolete software, is a lack of redundancy. This increases the likelihood of longer outages resulting from no backup provisions and the increased difficulty in supporting their service platform.
Instead of inquiring about price, the questions an answering service prospect should ask, the more important ones, are less tangible. These questions are harder to formulate and more challenging to evaluate, yet when asked, the answers provide the information needed to find the best medical answering service to serve your practice, clinic, or facility.
To start, here are some open-ended questions to ask:
- What outcomes should I expect from your medical answering service?
- What steps do you take to ensure quality on every call?
- What sets you apart from other answering services?
- Who do I contact if I have a question or concern about your service? What will they do to address it?
- How can you meet my on-call expectations? How will I provide my on-call information to you?
- What is your process and timeframe for setting up my account?
These are great questions to ask, but be patient as you wait for the answers. This is because the service may have never been asked these deep questions before. They may need to give some thought before responding. But the best medical answering services will be able to provide you with the information you seek and to do so with confidence and clarity.
Learn how medical answering service from MedConnectUSA can help your practice, clinic, or facility. Then get a free quote to discover how affordable their healthcare communication services are. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer and call center authority.