Even highly seasoned practitioners can forget that they need to focus on their patients and not phone calls when they’re in session. Sure, people are contacting you all the time for both business and personal reasons. But when you’re in session, patients are paying you for your expertise and your time, so don’t give them short shrift by cutting into this time to chat about things that have nothing to do with them. Remember that there’s a critical customer service side of your practice, so give it the importance it deserves.
Value Voice Mail
Many practitioners insist they must take all calls because they might miss out on new referrals. They’re fearful that callers will move on to someone else and, indeed, sometimes they do. But don’t feel desperate about this. Many potential patients are specifically referred to you so will be motivated to wait to connect with you. Others may have found you on the web or by some other random means and understand that you’re busy helping others and may not be available to speak with them immediately. Calm your worry about possibly losing this business by using your voice mail to explain to callers that you’re in session, invite them to leave a detailed message if they’d like, and assure them that you’ll be in touch as soon as you can. And, of course, offer emergency contact information for those who may be in crisis. As your business grows you’ll be able to add a live answering service or front office staff to greet all callers and engage new prospects, but for now, don’t panic. Your patients will value the fact that you wait to speak with them when you can give them your full attention, and that you focus on your patients when they come to the office to see you.
Check Messages Between Sessions
Decrease your worry about not speaking to all callers as they dial in by checking your messages regularly throughout the day. The diverse nature of clinical practice may prevent you from doing so hour by hour, but both you and your patients will get used to your routine once you put it into practice. Sometimes you’ll be rushed and will have to check quickly, but try to return calls when you have a more time so you can fully “hear” their issues and make the determination of whether you or perhaps a different practitioner can best meet their needs.
Put Your Website To Work
Many practices boast a fine looking website, but it doesn’t do much to help them operationally. Visually attractive, these sites often offer little information to help a prospective patient advance in their selection of you as a service provider. Sure, you’ve posted all your credentials and practice contact information, but how about content that helps them identify their issues and how you can help? They should be able to obtain basic information quickly and easily, as well as to benefit from patient education about a range of topics related to your area(s) of specialization. Too busy to develop your own content? Hire clinical consultants to ghostwrite it for you. They can work with your web developer to make sure that your information is presented in the most helpful form to showcase you and your expertise to the public. And, since they understand your business, they can make sure that your developer includes features, for example, that help patients tell whether you are currently accepting new patients and possible times when you may be available, or that enable them to schedule an appointment or order your products online. Today’s technology allows you to do a lot even with a tiny site, so put yours to work!
Resist putting the needs of your clients on hold while you take calls during sessions and other clinical activities. You may feel that they will be wowed by your expertise even if you cut into their time to take these calls, but remember that you’re in a service business and that the quality of the customer service provided to your patients is what keeps you in business!
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About the Author:
Dr. E. Carol Webster is a clinical psychologist consultant specializing in Success Psychology.
She is author of the book for those dealing with the stress of success ―
Success Management: How to Get to the Top and Keep Your Sanity Once You Get There,
The Fear of Success: Stop It From Stopping You! ―
the book to help you overcome fears that may be holding you back in your life and career
The Private Practice of Clinical Psychology in: Voices of Historical & Contemporary Black American Pioneers
E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Your Success Psychologist!
Clinical Psychology Consulting
Mailing Address: 7027 West Broward Boulevard, #262 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33317