Phoneside Manners: 4 Strategies to Improve Patient Experience with Proper Phone Etiquette

We’ve all heard of bedside manner, but have you considered your practice’s phoneside manner?

We all know how important it is to have good bedside manner as a healthcare provider. It’s how a skilled physician communicates and interacts with a patient during an appointment in a way that conveys genuine concern for the patient’s well-being. In dentistry, this might be referred to as “chairside manner,” but the concept remains the same. It’s all about building a relationship with your patient and displaying an empathetic and attentive attitude during his or her visit.

While emphasizing bedside manner is commonly known, many providers overlook the importance of prioritizing proper phoneside manner – the way in which your staff interacts with patients over the phone. Phoneside manners occur before a patient even walks through your front doors and can determine the outcome, mindset, and overall satisfaction of a patient’s experience. Here are four strategies to assist your team with proper phone etiquette and set your practice up for success.

Use Proper Greetings

Good phoneside manner starts the moment your staff picks up the phone. Instead of saying “Hello?” or “Please hold,” have your team develop a friendly and personable greeting when answering a patient call. For example, “Good morning! This is Beth with ABC Health. How can I help you?” Furthermore, if you must place a patient on hold, ask the patient and set expectations for the hold time. This could sound like, “Good morning! This is Beth with ABC Health. Can I place you on a brief hold?” Doing so immediately builds professionalism and confidence with your team and organization.

Speak with a Smile

While it may sound obvious, it’s important to remember to speak with a smile when answering the phone. Many practices find it helpful to place a small mirror alongside each staff member’s computer as a reminder to smile when talking with patients. It’s easy to fall into an “order taker” mode when handling common requests from patients – this often leads to staff sounding bored, robotic, or, in some cases, downright unhappy. An upbeat greeting and positive mentality can go a long way when setting the tone for a patient’s visit.

Match the Patient’s Urgency

It’s not uncommon for a patient to call a healthcare practice with a pressing need, whether due to being in pain or experiencing an emergency. When speaking with a patient, it’s important to express empathy when it comes to urgent requests and match their sense of urgency with a calm, but swift, phoneside manner. If a patient broke a dental crown and is experiencing severe pain, or if a patient tore his or her MCL and needs to be seen as soon as possible, act with immediacy. Try to avoid putting such patients on hold, express understanding of the nature of their urgent request, and direct them to the most appropriate next step that gets them help as quickly as possible.

In such urgent situations, patients can become frustrated or upset if they don’t feel prioritized. Sentiment Detection, offered by Call Box, is a helpful tool that can alert managers of calls where a patient is potentially dissatisfied or upset based on the caller’s tone of speech, cadence, rhythm, and volume. This allows your team the opportunity proactively reach out and resolve poor experiences or escalate calls to a manager.

Operate with a “How Can I Help?” Mentality

Finally, when it comes to phoneside manner, it’s crucial to operate with a “How can I help?” mentality. In doing so, your staff does everything possible to assist patients with their requests, and if the desired party isn’t available, ensures each patient receives a timely return call. For example, if a patient asks to speak with a physician who is currently with patients, direct that caller to a nurse or assistant. If the nurse doesn’t pick up, see if you’re able to help the patient with a common request such as scheduling a follow-up visit or refilling a prescription. If still unable to help, collect all the caller’s information and ensure he or she receives a follow-up call as quickly as possible. Never let a patient reach a voicemail unless specifically requested.

While the importance of demonstrating good bedside manner with patients is commonly known, operating with proper phoneside manner is just as critical. Providing patients with an excellent experience starts the moment they dial your number – ensure your team is armed with strategies to prioritize exceptional phone etiquette. To learn more about how Call Box helps healthcare practices improve caller experience, develop staff phone skills, and optimize call outcomes, visit callbox.com or call 833-991-4245.