When we call someone, we want them to answer our call quickly. Many medical answering services focus on this basic desire. They assert that they answer all calls fast. They might claim to answer within one ring or maybe two. Or they may state that they answer every call within a certain number of seconds.
Though this sounds impressive, there’s a downside to this. To answer every call fast, there’s a trade-off. That trade-off is being stuck on hold. At these “answer immediately” services, how long are patients on hold? As it turns out, it may be quite a long time.
A related question is how many times are they put on hold? Most people tolerate being placed on hold once, but what about two, three, or four or more times? Being asked to hold repeatedly will irritate even the most patient of people. But long hold times or repeated holds are the side effects of answering services that try to answer all calls as fast as possible.
It turns out there’s a right way and a wrong way to handle calls.
The Wrong Way to Handle Calls
To answer calls fast, many answering services make a practice of answering a call immediately and then placing the caller on hold. That way they can answer the next call fast, too. This continues until all the calls are answered and placed on hold. Then they turn their attention to all those callers waiting on hold. Is this fair? Is it right? Most people say “no,” but that’s what you must put up with when your answering service answers every call as soon as possible.
Then, to make the situation even worse, once they take you off hold and begin talking to you, they’ll put you on hold again to answer another new call. Then they’ll put that new caller on hold. Then they come back to you and try to pick up where they left off. Of course, each transition takes time and introduces a delay as they try to remember what you told them and what they need to do.
Here’s a related example. Say it’s time to check out at the grocery store. You head to the checkout line and wait for your turn. That’s both efficient and fair, right? Now let’s turn this on its head.
What would happen if a cashier tried to ring up purchases for three customers at the same time? She would ring up one item from the first customer, then an item from the second customer, and then a couple items from the third one. Then she goes back and rings up two more items for the first customer, before diverting her attention back to the second customer.
Nonsense, you say! And you’re correct. But this is precisely what these answer-quick answering services are doing with their answer-fast-and-hold strategy. It’s inefficient, it’s disrespectful, and it’s not fair.
As a result, patients and callers suffer. Don’t use an answering service that makes your callers suffer.
The Right Way to Handle Calls
Fortunately, not all medical answering services process calls in this nonsensical, bizarre way. An enlightened approach is to take one call at a time. This means that patients hold once until the next available person is available. Once they answer a patient’s call, there’s no need to put them on hold again. They stay with that patient and give them their complete focus until they finish the call.
Not only is this respectful and fair to patients, this is also the most efficient way to handle calls. And efficiency is important because it reduces overall wait times for callers and speeds patients to completing their calls as quickly as possible. This approach minimizes errors and caller frustrations.
Answering one call at a time is the right way to handle calls.?
If you want a medical answering service that has your patients’ best interest in mind, don’t go with one that answers every call quickly. Instead select one that handles one call at a time. This is the best way to serve your patients and show them the respect they deserve.