Too many healthcare business managers and professionals don’t bother to teach their employees how to answer the telephone. They assume that if people can talk, they must have the basic skills required to use the phone. This is incorrect. Achieving successful phone calls requires intentional effort.
Yes, some people have terrific communication skills that naturally allow them to effectively talk on the phone, but most people don’t. These people need training on how to use the telephone properly. And even those with a natural tendency toward telephone communication can benefit from a reminder of these three keys for successful phone calls.
If this statement that people need telephone skills training surprises you, remember that there are three components to effective communication: the verbal, paraverbal, and nonverbal. Simply put, these are the words we use, our tone of voice, and our body language. Guess which part is the most significant? Body language, at 55 percent. And what part doesn’t work on phone calls? Body language. This means that when on the phone, we must rely on our words (7 percent) and our tone of voice (38 percent). We lose 55 percent of our ability to effectively communicate when we’re on the phone.
That’s why these three keys to successful phone calls are so important.
Who wants to listen to a telephone ring? No one. That’s why it’s important to answer phone calls quickly. This doesn’t mean, however, that you must answer every call on the first ring. A common expectation is three rings (about 18 seconds), with five rings (about 30 seconds) being the longest acceptable timeframe.
Given this, before you answer any telephone call, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, take a deep breath and make sure you have a lungful of air so that you’re not answering out of breath or at a low volume that will make it hard for the caller to hear you.
Next, have all the phone-answering tools you may need ready. This may include a pen and paper or more likely, have your computer on and the applications you need open.
Last, make sure you are ready to give the caller all your attention. Don’t try to interact with the caller while paying attention to a coworker, finishing up another task, or preparing for what you do next. Your caller deserves 100 percent of your focus. This brings us to the next key, professional.
When some people think of professional work, the image of detached, unemotional interaction comes to mind. This is the wrong idea. When it comes to a successful phone call, professional means being attentive, efficient, and effective.
Callers shouldn’t have to repeat themselves, and they shouldn’t need to call back to get things resolved. Professional telephone communicators do it right the first time, on every call.
The third key is forming a rapport with the caller. This means being personable. The main way to do this is simply by being nice. Yes, sometimes employees need a reminder to be nice. Treat others the way you would want to be treated. Better yet, treat others the way you would want your mother to be treated.
Be upbeat. Use positive phrases. And if you’re having a rough day, don’t let the caller realize it.
A final way of being personable is by forming a connection. This doesn’t suggest over sharing, but it does indicate making appropriate personal or relatable revelations.
Good telephone communication rarely happens by accident. It requires intentionality. It involves training, starting with these three keys to successful phone calls.
Your healthcare communication specialist hires staff who already have impressive communication skills. The next step is to remind them of these three keys to successful phone calls and then spend many more hours training them on enhanced telephone communication techniques.
The result is providing an elevated level of telephone service to your patients and callers. This is what you deserve: communication excellence on every call.
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.