“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”
-Gen. E. Shinseki, US Army (Ret.)
Trying to improve telephone skills at your veterinary practice? Stop wasting your time.
Sacrilege, I know. But hear me out. Unless you’re willing to completely change the way you compensate your client service representatives (CSRs), it is a fool’s errand to think they’ll be able to provide your clients with the kind of telephone service they demand. Zappos or Four Seasons level service. If that’s not difficult enough, remember that your clients probably don’t want to actually talk to you either.
When was the last time you saw a payphone on the street? I am willing to guess it has been a while. That’s not only because everyone has a means of communication in their pocket, but also because new technology has massively decreased the need for telephone calls. People are ordering, booking, scheduling, tweeting, streaming and paying all from their phones.
Clients get put on hold 40% of the time, and you should assume that you’re losing 50% of those calls to hangups (reference previous blog on this topic that has stats). Are you so busy that you can afford to lose 40% * 50%=20% of your phone calls to hangups because your front desk is insanely busy? And what are those 20% of people going to think the NEXT time they want to do business with you? That calling you is too much of a hassle and Cocoa doesn’t need a distemper vaccine THAT bad…..so another 12 months go by because, after all, Cocoa looks healthy. What if one of those phone calls was to schedule a $500 dental, which now you lost because the team is, “.. too busy to get anything done?”
Why spend all that time training your staff on a job skill (i.e. telephone reception) that is going to be all but obsolete in the next few years? Then you would have to train them on the next move in technology. Save yourself the time and get ahead of the industry. Utilize technology to simplify your practice. The customers of tomorrow are growing up with access to everything they need right on their phone. They are simplifying their lives with booking, texting and shopping on their phone instead of calling.
The solution isn’t better phone skills for your front desk team, it’s more that you should completely rethink the job of your client service representatives. How can you help them handle 75% fewer phone calls every day? Can you make their lives dramatically simpler by reducing the sheer number of telephone calls they get every day?
Imagine if your front desk team had 50% of their time back to do other things, like provide true concierge service in your waiting room? If your practice is large enough, you could even eliminate a staff position while also making the entire experience better for your clients. Remember, your clients probably don’t want to talk on the phone either!