Front desk team members who effectively build rapport consistently convert more new patient calls to appointments. Why? Because people like to do business with people they trust and like – people with whom they have made a connection. It’s really that simple.
It is, therefore, critical that front desk teams (and anyone else who interacts with patients) be skilled in the art and science of rapport building. Below are a few tips that will help with rapport building.
Rapport building starts with the FIRST call, and doesn’t stop
To be effective, the front desk must make it a goal to build rapport on first the first call, and then the entire practice must be dedicated to continuing to deepen the relationship throughout the customer lifecycle. But be aware that relationships with patients should be approached dynamically – there is no strict formula (or script) that works for every person. Change your approach to the patient as the relationship grows.
You need accurate, accessible data about your patients
Establishing a true connection with someone requires that you have easy access to accurate information about that person. There are three keys here – you must ask the right kinds of questions, you need to diligently record the data, and finally, you must have a mechanism to recall the information at the appropriate time when interacting with the patient. It can be as simple as highlighting patient notes on the routing slip or a sticky note referencing something important and personal on the patient’s file that the doctor can quickly review before walking into the treatment room.
Make it personal
Building rapport requires that you not only remember important information about the patient but that you make the effort to truly know the person. How? In the same way you learn about new friends – by taking a genuine interest in the person. As part of your new patient call process, ask them open-ended questions and be present and listen where the conversation goes. When you make this a habit, rapport building happens naturally.
Be open to adjust your approach during the call
Make sure to adjust your approach when interacting with a caller on the phone and adapt your communication style according to their needs. Forcing a conversation into what you consider to be the “right” way to interact is a recipe for failure. Is your caller interested in info about procedures? Give them as much information as you can and then guide them to come in for a complimentary consultation so the doctor can answer their questions. Are they in a rush? Get the minimum information necessary and, if they don’t make an appointment right then, ask if you can call them back at a more convenient time. Are they talking fast or slowly? Adjust your cadence to match theirs. Making these small accommodations for the patient on the phone is a powerful way to help establish rapport.
We often debate whether to be compassionate or empathetic with a caller. They are similar, but compassion encompasses an ability and desire to understand the perspective and needs of another person AND includes a desire to help. There is no quicker way to establish rapport than by genuinely connecting with the patient on an emotional level and making it clear that you want to help them. Put yourself in their shoes, and use your expertise to provide a solution.
The quickest way to destroy a new patient relationship or existing patient relationship really is to act disrespectfully. Patients expect that you desire their business and want to be treated in a respectful manner. Ask the caller for their name, and use it! Say please and thank you. And always listen and acknowledge their fears or concerns. Reassure them that they are coming to the right practice and you and your team will take care of them.
No one likes to talk to a robot, and using a script typically makes you sound like one. If you are new to working with callers on the phone, keep an outline handy that will help you remember important steps in the call, but male sure the interaction is natural and personal.
Gently guide the call
You need to acknowledge the caller’s emotional state by having empathy for their situation, but remember that they have called your office for help, and you are the authority. Use your expertise to guide the conversation in such a way as to “root out” the real problem and get them scheduled
Building rapport with callers can seem challenging. But it doesn’t have to be. With practice and a genuine desire to help, you can begin building rapport over the phone with all your new patients.
We welcome a chance to show you how we can help you. Call us today to schedule a complimentary consultation.