Laura Livesey (06:37):
I think another one that I get all the time is I talk to consultants almost every day about their teams and what’s going right in the business, what’s wrong, how are the metrics going. I get asked all the time, or I should say I hear agonised questions about, “I’m not sure that my receptionist, my secretary, whatever, can and answer these questions. They don’t seem ready for it; they don’t seem up for it; they don’t seem comfortable with sales”, for example. So how do you view that and what kind of a person do you think should be doing this role?
Rod Solar (07:13):
Yeah, that’s a great question. I recently read a book by Simon Sinek called Start With Why. And one of the things he says is “The goal of business is not to do business with anyone who has what you’ve got or who wants what you’ve got. But rather the goal of business is to do business with those who believe what you believe.” I find that quote immeasurably impactful.
This also applies to employees. So if you don’t have people on your team who believe what you believe, in other words, that it’s a good thing to invite patients into a consultation, that it’s a good thing to remove obstacles in their path, to make it easy, to get them to take their next steps, that it’s a good thing to follow up with patients and to really, really take heart in the numbers and to feel like every patient you earn is a patient that otherwise would go to someone else and not to your practice, if they don’t feel strongly passionate about what you offer, then they’re in the wrong place. They shouldn’t be answering the phone.
Laura Livesey (08:11):
No, that makes perfect sense. And what about infrastructure? Many practices don’t have fancy phone systems and that sort of thing. What are the essential things practices need to have set up to do this right?
Rod Solar (08:22):
Well, I think any private practice needs to eliminate telephony; the idea of press one for this, press two for that, press three for that. That’s just a barrier in the way of having a conversation with a real human. So I think it’s super important and you can do it.
And you need to differentiate yourself away from the chains by having a real human who takes the time and has the infrastructure available to them to make quick and easy bookings.
Rod Solar (08:51):
So, one of the biggest things I notice is that while say you have somebody trained, number one, they don’t have a private room to enhance their phone calls. That’s problem number one. So they feel like everybody’s listening to them, and that’s not a good environment to stimulate this conversation.
Secondly, they have computer systems that are so slow that they have to make the patient wait on the phone to do the most simple things like to book the next available appointment. So when that happens, you just basically lose the momentum that you’ve worked so hard to create here, and you quite possibly may lose the booking.
Laura Livesey (09:26):
No, that’s a common one. I think many patients are frustrated, especially by the telephony, the press one, press two, and not getting a live human and just disappearing.
What about the methodology, in terms of how you handle the calls coming in? I’ve heard a lot of people say, “Well, my people don’t really want to go off of a script; they want to be themselves.” What kind of a process do you need to have in place to handle the calls?
Rod Solar (09:54):
First thing I’m going to say is that these calls cost money. If you’re doing any marketing, then every single call, you need to take the number of calls you receive divided by the amount of money you spent on marketing this month, and that’s how much your calls are worth.
So it’s essential to value these calls for what they are. So what we’re talking about here is having a process worthy of one of the most fundamentally important aspects of your business. What this means is not simply sitting there and responding to patient questions.
First of all, when they make a phone call to a clinic, most patients will say, “How much does it cost?” Then the person on the phone who you employ will say, “It costs this much.” Then in 50% of the cases, they go, “Okay, well, thanks very much, much moving forward. That’s too much for me.” And they hang up the phone.
Rod Solar (10:41):
Now, in the other 50% of the cases, what they might do is they go, “Okay, that’s interesting. I have more questions.” So they might ask another question, and they ask another question. And then they exhaust themselves of the questions they have and then go off. There’s no call to action, there is no request to make an appointment.
Basically, what the person that you’ve employed to do this is doing is they’re acting like a human version of a website FAQ, and you need them to go further than that.
Rod Solar (11:10):
You need them to take control. You need them to decide, okay, this is a qualified patient I would like to invite into my clinic. So now I’m going to take you patient, through a series of questions for me to make a relationship with you, for me to excite you and provide value for you as a result of this phone call, and then invite you to consultation once I deem it’s appropriate for you to come in. Because my time is precious, my doctor’s time is precious, and I would like you to come in and see if you’re suitable for treatment.
So that’s essentially the process that I teach. It has to be an active process where the person you have answering the phone is a leader; it’s not a follower.
Laura Livesey (11:58):
It’s not about product knowledge, is it?
Rod Solar (11:59):
No, no, no, no. Look, product knowledge is excellent, but the time to offer product knowledge is… You’ve got to know enough to be able to answer some basic questions. But the critical thing is that people aren’t coming to see you for product knowledge.
What you’re doing on the phone is you’re selling the appointment. And product knowledge is best discussed at the appointment by the professionals whose job it is to know that information.
Laura Livesey (12:20):
Not when you’re booking the appointment but at the appointment.
Rod Solar (12:22):
Laura Livesey (12:23):
No, that makes sense. And I think finally the issue of, how do I reward people and how do I keep them accountable, what accountability structures do you need in place?
Because I never come across this before we work with clients. It’s really something that’s an afterthought, is I need to have these structures in place.
So what would you recommend in terms of getting people happy and excited in their role and ready to perform at a high level?