Clean Up on Aisle Front Office, Part 1

Usually, your front office is where patients get their first impression of your clinic. So, if your front office staff and front office operations don’t appear professional, patients might question your professionalism as a therapist. So, take a step back and observe your front office from your patients’ perspective. Is there anything that might give them the wrong idea about the quality of services you provide? Here are just a few examples of front office slip-ups that might negatively impact the way customers perceive your value as a healthcare provider:

Poor Phone Experience

If a prospective customer calls your clinic and no one answers the phone, your chances of acquiring him or her as a patient drop significantly. So, picking up is half the battle. If a customer is able to get someone on the line, there is still a lot of potential for your clinic to lose the sale if the person you have manning the phone isn’t quite up to snuff on phone etiquette. Poor phone skills that could end up costing you business include:

  • Bad hold music. It might sound silly, but if you have to put callers on hold, they’re already going to be less satisfied with the call than they would be if they were able to speak to someone right away. So don’t kick yourself while you’re down by providing awful hold music—or worse, no music at all. Both are just asking for hang-ups.
  • Forgetting a caller’s name after he or she provides it and then asking for it again later in the call. This makes it look like you’re not listening or don’t care.
  • Talking too fast, not enunciating, or speaking too softly—basically, anything that impairs the caller’s ability to understand what you’re saying.
  • Taking messages and not giving your caller any indication of when he or she can expect a return call. This opens up the possibility of the caller looking elsewhere for answers.
  • Not following up on messages you have taken. The longer you wait to return a call, the greater the chance the caller has moved on to a different clinic.

Appearing Disorganized

If your front desk is a mess of papers, clutter, sticky notes, and half-empty coffee cups, patients might assume that your professionalism as a therapist is right on par with the professionalism of your front office. If the person behind your front desk has to search for several minutes just to find a pen—or worse, a patient chart—you’re not doing yourself any favors in the first impression department.

Failing to Pre-Book a Patient’s Next Appointment

Before a patient leaves your office, make sure he or she is on the calendar. Making follow-up phone calls to book appointments creates more work for your staff and gives patients the opportunity to deprioritize therapy. The same goes for rescheduling cancelled appointments. If patients call to cancel, reschedule them right there and then.
Are you or your front office staff guilty of any of the slip-ups above? These could be the problems potentially holding your clinic back. It’s time to clean up your front office operations, and I’m going to help. Tune into my blog next month (or watch my Five Fast and Cheap Ways to Fix Your Clinic’s Marketing webinar) when I detail how you can quickly and cost-effectively fix these snafus.

About the Author

Heidi Jannenga, PT, MPT, ATC/L, Founder and COO of WebPT

As Chief Operating Officer, Heidi leads the product strategy and oversees the WebPT brand vision. She co-founded WebPT after recognizing the need for a more sophisticated industry-specific EMR platform and has guided the company through exponential growth, while garnering national recognition. Heidi brings with her more than 15 years of experience as a physical therapist and multi-clinic site director as well as a passion for healthcare innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership.An active member of the sports and private practice sections of the APTA, Heidi advocates for independent small businesses, speaks as a subject matter expert at industry conferences and events, and participates in local and national technology, entrepreneurship, and women-in-leadership seminars. Heidi is a mentor to physical therapy students and local entrepreneurs and leverages her platform to promote the importance of diversity, company culture, and overall business acumen for private practice physical therapy clinics.Heidi was a collegiate basketball player at the University of California, Davis, and remains a life-long fan of the Aggies. She graduated with a BS in Biological Sciences and Exercise Physiology, went on to earn her MPT at the Institute of Physical Therapy in St. Augustine, Florida, and recently obtained her DPT through EIM. When she’s not enjoying time with her daughter Ava, Heidi is perfecting her Spanish, practicing yoga, or hiking one of her favorite Phoenix trails.