The best run clinics don’t ask their front desk staff to do everything. Managing your front desk staff begins by not assigning them extraneous tasks that will distract them from their primary purpose – serving and helping patients.
But what’s beyond that? What else can you do to manage your front desk staff so your patients receive the best possible experience, your booking rates remain at a consistently high level, revenue is maximized, and no one gets burnt out or overwhelmed?
In an episode of New Patient Secrets, Rick Lau spoke with the founder of Front Office Guru, Dee Bills about how to get the most out of your front desk team. Dee revealed the top three ways to manage your front desk staff without overwhelming them.
Who is Dee Bills?
Dee was working as a physical therapist alongside her husband at a clinic they owned. Their patient care was excellent, as it is at most clinics, but their survival was in peril because not enough patients were coming through the doors. As clinicians, they realized they had little influence over this. So, Dee switched roles and took over the front desk operations and began making big changes.
By the time her changes were fully implemented, their clinic had gone from seeing about 100 patients per week to over 500. Today, Dee coaches and consults with other clinic owners about how to improve their front desk operations and get the most out of their team through front desk training.
This is where your revenue growth comes from. Here’s how to get the most out of your front desk team.
PS. Check out this swipe post to learn the 7 rules to exceptional patient experience.
Top 3 Ways to Manage Your Front Desk Staff
1. Hire the Right People
Some people are just more gifted than others at the skills you need for this type of position. This is true for any position in any company. You can’t just hire someone based on experience. You’re looking for a particular set of skills.
If you can find the right type of person for your front desk positions, a lot of your other management tasks will go much smoother.
How do you hire the right people consistently? You need a hiring approach that will attract the kind of person you need, and that will allow the best candidates to rise to the top. Here's how to hire the perfect front desk in less than 60 minutes.
Plus, check out this video of Dee Bills to learn the #1 Front Desk Interview Question:
Begin with a job description that spells out what you’re looking for. This is akin to a sales position, though you don’t necessarily have to phrase it that way. You want someone who:
• Takes initiative
• Does well on the phone
• Cares about their performance
• Believes in your clinic’s mission to help people get better
• Can manage details and time on their own
Dee has observed that the best front desk staff often have worked other jobs in entirely different industries. Medical industry experience isn’t the most important criteria here. Don’t show preference based on that. Look for the skills and abilities that matter most, no matter the industry.
As your hiring list fills up, test your applicants by sending an email that asks them to perform a few basic tasks, and give a deadline. Your goal here is to see who is responsive, and who is able to get things done in a timely manner. Anyone who fails this test – drop them from your list.
Never Miss a Call, Even on Sick Days or Staff Turnover.
CallHero’s Virtual Receptionist are fully trained to convert callers directly into your software
Next, find out why they want to work at your clinic. What attracted them to this job?
You also want to learn how well they can talk to people they don’t know. Dee recommends giving them three questions to ask, and then sending them out into your waiting room to strike up conversations with patients. Have them take notes. Require them to talk to at least five patients within thirty minutes.
See Dee Bill’s complete front desk hiring blueprint here.
2. Have a Training Policy Framework
Your front desk staff need to feel empowered to do their jobs well. Give them clear metrics like phone answer rates, booking rates, and winback rates that show them how well they’re performing.
Create training programs using phone scripts, call recording software for chiropractors, physical therapists, and dentists, and other tools that allow them to gain skills and raise their game so they don’t feel left behind.
Front desk positions have too much turnover, and these are some of the reasons. If a front desk person feels like they fail too often on the phone, they’ll eventually quit if they don’t feel supported. By giving them the right training and constructive feedback on a consistent basis, you are making them feel empowered, and you’re reducing feelings of inadequacy and overwhelm.
3. Focus Training on the Product – Helping People
Dee’s recommended metric that shows the front desk staff how well their training is working is simple: Number of people helped each day. If you’re helping a lot of people every day, you’re doing a great job. By focusing all your training around that goal, you give your patient experience coordinators something positive to shoot for.
What does it mean to help people? Here are just a few ways front desk staff helps:
- Turn phone calls into booked appointments – you’re helping them get better
- Solve scheduling challenges for patients – you’re helping them get the care they need
- Create workarounds for insurance situations – you’re helping manage their finances
- Find ways to book patients even when the schedule is full – you’re helping them feel valued and cared for
- Empathize with their pain – you’re helping them feel heard and understood
Beat Your Competitors With Every Call
Discover your front desk’s strengths and areas for improvement with our Mystery Caller Audit
This is about communication over transaction. Transactions matter – that’s how your clinic survives. But you get there more frequently, and help more patients feel good about their experience if you prioritize good communication. And that’s on the phone, over email, and in person.
Watch this video to learn more about The Top 3 Ways to Manage Your Front Desk Staff Without Overwhelming Them:
Watch The Full Episode Now
Dee Bill’s full conversation with Rick Lau touches on much more than managing your front desk staff. Earlier in the same webinar, she shares her top sales tactics to easily double your caseload without spending more on marketing. You also get the do’s and don’ts of talking to patients, and why most clinics get this wrong. And she shares tips to lower same day cancellations and no-shows.
Plus, you’ll also get her phone secrets that are guaranteed to increase your conversions, the biggest mistakes clinics make with their front desk phone training, and how to hire the best people for your front desk.
Who is Rick Lau and CallHero?
Rick has built three 10 million dollar healthcare businesses over the past 15 years including a network of 127 clinics with over 1400 employees. He is one of the most sought-after mentors for clinic owners in Canada and USA and the founder of Clinic Accelerator where he helps owners double, triple, and even quadruple their profits by optimizing their clinic operations using his proven systems and leadership strategies. Plus, he has spent over millions in google and facebook ads during his career. He is also the founder of Callhero, an all-in-one communication platform to grow your clinic.
You can follow him on Instagram
1. What tasks should front desk staff do?
A good front desk person is great at talking to people on the phone, with technology, and in person. They are organized, they take initiative, and they care about their performance. Medical clinics that want to attract and book more patients and grow their practice to serve more patients should hire a great front desk staff.
2. How many front desk staff should I have at my clinic?
You should hire one front desk person for every 100 patients you see each week. So if you see 200 patients per week, you should have two front office employees, better referred to as patient care coordinators. They should be dedicated to patient management, not also tasked with cleaning the office. Not surprisingly, most clinics are understaffed on their front desks.
3. What can I do to get better performance from front desk staff?
You can do 3 things. First, hire the right kinds of people by attracting them, and weeding out the low performers and those not right for this job. Second, create policies and processes that provide ongoing training and support. Third, train your front desk staff consistently, and measure their performance with the right metrics.