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Ep.19: How to Turn Phone Calls into Profits


Ep.19: How to Turn Phone Calls into Profits

Listen as Catherine walks you through a complete receptionist script to get quality consults through your door!

Receptionist “Do’s and Don’ts” while on the phone with prospects!

Easy to implement right away to get you more surgeries!

…And much more!

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FREE advice call with Catherine

Episode transcript:

Welcome to “Beauty and the Biz.” Discover how to grow your practice with effective cosmetic patient attraction, conversion and retention advice from author, speaker, trainer and cosmetic practice business and marketing coach, Catherine Maley MBA.

Hello and welcome to “Beauty and the Biz” where we talk about the business and marketing side of the cosmetic practice. I’m your host Catherine Maley, author of “Your Aesthetic Practice – What Your Patients are Saying” as well as consultant to cosmetic practices to get them more patients and more profits.

Now, today’s episode is called “How to Turn Phone Calls into Profits. Now, a lot of you have a tendency to ignore the phones, you don’t hear them you don’t care about, them but I’ll tell you they’re really, important to you because you can spend a fortune if you want on website design and SEO and PPC and PR and social media to get your phones to ring but then what, happens. I’ll tell you; we do an awful lot of mystery shopping around here and here’s what happens from the prospective patients point of view. Your bad phones are ruining their image of you and you’re losing credibility and the patient is now questioning you. And if you think about it isn’t that the truth. I’m sure you’ve done this yourself.

Let’s, say you went to somebody’s website, I’ll, just talk from the consumers point of view. They found you somehow. Maybe you’re doing a killer job on social media and they really feel like they know you and they’re comfortable with you and they think you’re like the greatest thing that ever happened then they check out your website and your reviews are great, and your photos are great and they’re just loving you. Now what happens when they pick up the phone and they hear the other side, your side saying doctor’s office hold please or yes what did you want. That right there has completely, destroyed all the effort, the money, the time you put into your image. So, the question is first do you have the right, person with a great phone voice with really good energy like I have answering your phones? By the way I don’t want to be your receptionist. However, that is how I got started.

I grew up in Chicago and everybody wanted to work in downtown Chicago, and I got a killer elite job being the receptionist at a huge engineering consulting firm. It was the biggest of the I think in the United States and all I did was sit, outside in a very dark hallway and in those days I mean this we’re talking the 80s, it was wood panel. There were six elevator shafts that opened up and all they saw was me under a spotlight and I think I got hired because I had red hair and it looked really good under the spotlight and that’s what they needed. Somebody with really good phone voice, really good energy to represent them and you need the same thing. If you’re toting yourself as the best. The best means you and your phones and everything else going on in your practice.

So, if you’ve got the right person in place, let’s say you do. You feel comfortable with your receptionist, you love her, she loves you, she’s great for the practice. However, is she trained and I’m going to say she.  I’m still struggling with a man answering the phone in our industry. I know in today’s world we’re all united and everyone’s terrific. I just find it can be confusing. If your patient base is 85% female I would actually cater to your demographics. However, if you’re running some kind of catering to the gay population then have a gay man answering the phone. Or if you’re catering to the transgender group have a transgender answering the phone. It just makes good common sense to try to bond with your off with your receptionist and the general demographic you’re going after.

But anyway, if you’ve got the right person are they trained and here’s what I mean. If you can get them to follow the phone fundamentals that I’m going to lay out next and stop all the craziness because here’s another thing that happens. You have a receptionist who either doesn’t participate at all, has no phone energy or you’ve got a gabber. Somebody who keeps talking and doesn’t listen and she’s on the phone call for 20 minutes or even longer because in her head she thinks she’s doing you and the caller a service by talking a lot and telling them everything they need to know. That’s not how we do this and I’m going to lay it out next because I guarantee if you use the phone fundamentals I lay out here right now I guarantee your phone conversions are going to increase up to 30% in 48 hours okay and I’m not kidding about that. I’ve done this over and over.

So, here goes. Your receptionist, by the way I used to charge for this now I give it away for free. Everything’s free now. Anyway, so your receptionists objective, she only has two objectives. One is to book the appointment or two if she can’t book she’s to get the contact information period. Now here’s a very big tip that most people miss. Whomever is asking the questions controls the call and if you think about that and think of it as is she the information booth or is she the control tower. When you shift that mindset, she becomes the pivotal player in your practice. She’s the ambassador of your practice. She’s the greeter of anybody who tries to get to you. They have to go through her first. So, she’s literally the control tower. She’s now the information booth where she’s at Disneyland and they’re telling you where to go and where the restrooms are. So, if she can start thinking that way it will up her game and she’ll feel and sound a, lot more professional.

So, here’s how you control the call with questions. What’s, your name? What’s your phone number? Which procedure are you interested in? How did you hear about us? When did you want to have this done? When can we see you and if all else fails what’s your contact information so we can stay in touch and nurture that relationship. Now, here’s something else that’s super helpful for a receptionist to get used to and that is verbal cheerleading and using their manners and I’ll talk more about that as I’m going along. But verbal cheerleading is things like absolutely or terrific or great or of course and then of course please and thank you. Manners seems to be a lost art in today’s world. I think it’s just because we’re so busy. Please and thank you still goes a really long way so I would use it.

So, here’s phone fix number one. Please answer the phone. So many of you really have set up gates and big fences to jump over trying to get to a human being and I’m talking about having an answering machine answer for you because you’re busy or you leave for lunch. By the way I don’t see how you can close a, lunch hour when an aesthetic patient who’s working might only have lunch hour to call you or you use some answering service that’s horrendous and, it’s got Big Bertha who smokes three packs of cigarettes a day and they answer very cavalierly. Or what happens after hours when people call. Is it easy for them to somehow either connect with you human to human or do you have a really great system for them to leave a message or text you or do something. Really take a look at that and have somebody outside of your practice call your office and see what kind of experience they have because in the real world, in today’s world if you’re playing the social media game or internet marketing you know these patients are calling you after hours. So, figure out what is that experience like when they are because you want to be on top of that.

So, here’s the mantra for your receptionist. The phone is your friend. It is not a distraction. It’s not a nuisance. If you have to put up mirrors so the, receptionist can see herself in the mirror and see what kind of expression she’s got going before she picks up that phone because her attitude is everything and then she’s got to use a good greeting and you use your voice to set the tone for the call. So, a very simple greeting and it should always be consistent because the most professional practices I have worked with they work on the fundamentals and it’s all very consistent. Everybody talks the same. They use the same lingo. They have the same attitude. It really sets you apart from the mediocre practice who is loosey-goosey and they’re all over the place. So, a typical nice greeting is, “Good afternoon, Best Plastic Surgery and Laser Center, Linda speaking how may I assist you today?” Nice huh. Now, Linda is going to control the call from here on out and here’s how she’s going to it. She’s going to get their name and number next. So, Linda says, “Sure I can help you with that. May I get your name please.” And then she says, “Thank you Karen.” Now, she’s got Karen’s name, “Thank you Karen. Now what’s the best number to reach you at?” And hopefully that’s the cell phone.

Here’s the next question. “Thanks for that and can you tell me how you heard about us Karen?” and then Karen says and then she says, “Oh that’s terrific and then by the way Karen which procedure did you want to discuss with Dr. Best?” and then the patient tells you. This is where you will let the patient do a little more talking because the patient will often start with their story and here comes the story and this can go on and on and on, but this is the one time where you do want to stop. Let the caller tell their story and this is the procedure that they want, or this is what they think they want, or this is what somebody told them they want. So, let them tell you that part. But now you still take control of the call. You use more verbal cheerleading and you might even have to but in here because some of the patients want to go on and on. But you say, “Oh yes Karen that’s one of our most popular procedures. Now, by the way, Dr. Best has performed more than 1,500 facial surgical procedures with fantastic results. Now, when were you, thinking of having this done?” Now, do you hear how conversational this is and then when she answers you say, “Oh thanks so much for that information.”

Now we all know there’s a really good chance they’re going to say how much is it. I mean, that’s just guaranteed. What happens is, if you’re not tightly scripted your receptionist can fumble around with this and oftentimes it’s because they have their own money hang-ups or who knows, and I hear this all the time. I don’t want to script my receptionist. It sounds robotic. I’ll tell you what sounds robotic and what sounds absolutely insane is when you have somebody fumbling around looking for the words to say because they don’t know what to say. I’ll take scripting any day over letting a receptionist decide how she’s going to answer questions and what she’s going to say.  I have found that to go very sideways very quickly so I’m a huge proponent in scripting. But you know what happens. The reason is scripting is because the receptionist has not practiced it enough, so she does sound robotic. The whole point is anybody and especially somebody like you, a surgeon. It took you 14 years to practice being a surgeon for heavens sakes. Everything takes practice doesn’t it. Everything takes practice. You sound terrible when you first do it then you get good at it then you get skilled at it.

So, here’s tip number one when it comes to talking about price. How much is it? You absolutely do not ever let your receptionist give a price without pre-framing you first. So, I call it pre-frame before price. She has got to credential you first before she throws out prices because you have no idea what the caller thinks about price, knows about prices. Frankly on the internet she has seen prices all over the board. She’s probably called your competitors who are not being forthright with prices. Frankly in today’s world it’s gotten so crazy and so price shoppy like and I would actually give people a price. You don’t need everyone in there. You only need people in there who actually can afford your prices and if you’re confident with what you charge and you feel like you charge a fair price for what you offer, terrific. Stick to that, tell them that but frankly you’ve got to pre-frame you, first because if you don’t all the caller has to go on is price and that’s a problem. There’s more to this than just price and I guarantee it in my book it wasn’t all about price. Actually, price ended up being the third. I’ll just tell you the other ones were your credentials and your skill and expertise and then the top one was did they feel a, connection with you. The connection starts with your receptionist. They’ve got to feel a connection with the receptionist, with every staff person they meet, with you and then of course with your coordinator.

So, to position you as the best choice and to credential you, the things I always like to use are the number of surgical procedures you have performed because nobody wants to be number three, they want to be number 3003. So, count it up from residency. Count up all the surgeries you’ve done or let’s say you, haven’t done a ton of surgery but let’s say you’re on the newer side. You could actually just count up all of the patients you’ve ever worked with and you can say served more than 4,500 patients. That’s a little marketing thing there but it’s true. You also train, others or maybe you were seen on some kind of PR. Maybe you were seen in a magazine. Maybe you were quoted somewhere. So, seen as or you’re board-certified or you speak or lecturer or write or blog or you were voted top doc. I know these are also a pay-to-play kind of marketing strategy, but it helps. So, you were voted top doc and then of course if you’re doing any pro bono work at all, you might want to throw that in. But you don’t tell them all of these. Have you, receptionist pick her two favorites and then you always say that before the price.

Now, here’s tip number two and it’s super important. When you’re receptionist, and I call this answer a question with a question, there is no pause between her credentialing you and her moving right into the appointment and I’ll show you, what that means here. So, let’s say the patient says, Karen says how much is it and your person and I forgot everyone’s names now. I don’t know what her name is, but she says, “Oh sure Karen I can help you with that. By the way Dr. Best has performed more than 1,500 surgical procedures and he even trains other surgeons on his innovative techniques so you’ve called the right practice. Now the fees for that procedure,” and here’s where you either start at 6500 or they range from 6 to, 10,000, “and we offer affordable pay plans. You’ll get all the details once you’ve met with Dr. Best and then our coordinator Linda. I see my next available appointment is on October 14th at 3 p.m. Does that work for you?”

Everything I just said right there is so strategic and it works beautifully if the receptionist can practice it because it’s chock-full of things. So, I credentialed a surgeon ahead of time by saying he’s performed lots of them with great results. He’s even trained others they love that and then with the fees you can either go with the start at or ranges from. But here is the caveat, the minute you say that you have to follow up with and we offer affordable pay plans. You have to say those two together otherwise they’re stuck with sticker shock because they have no idea where they’re going to come up with ten grand.

So, if you to put, it together, you’ve just calmed the waters there and you can keep going because you’re not going to pause. I cannot tell you, how many receptionists say, “Well for that procedure we charge 10 grand,” and there’s this pause. You know what that says to the caller that you’re questioning if they’re going to buy that, you’re questioning are you okay with the 10 grand. If you pause you have completely set up red flags for the caller to question what you just said. I hope I’m being clear about that. So, you just keep going and I’ll do it some more here. Another thing that’s going to happen is in the consultation fee. In today’s world let’s be serious you’ve got to charge a consult fee if you’re going to have any chance of converting people otherwise you’re just going to be meeting people all day who number one don’t show up or number two don’t have the financial wherewithal, have no clue what they’re talking about, don’t even, know what they want. I am a big believer now in consultation fees.

Even if your neighbors don’t charge here’s what I would do. If they’re coming from the internet or social media I would charge anyway but at least charge a reservation fee, so you get their credit card on file and don’t charge them as long as they show up. But otherwise use it as some kind of a perk. Let’s say in your marketing you offer a complimentary consultation gift card let’s say or you give it to your current patients and then they give it to their friends. It’s getting too nasty out there not to charge for your time. Anyway, so what you could say is for the consult fee is, ” One more thing Karen because Dr. Best is in high demand we do charge a consult fee of $100 that I take over the phone now to get you into the system and it goes towards your procedure should you decide to move forward. Did you want to use your Visa, Mastercard or Amex?

So, that’s an easy way to handle that and then here’s the thing about questions and this is again why you’re not the information booth. That front desk is the control tower. So, here’s how we handle the questions. If it’s a super easy question then go ahead and answer it but again answer a question with a question which is, so does October 14th at 3 p.m. work for you? Now, if it’s at all a clinical question that only you should answer because this is where the receptionist gets all muddled up. She tries to answer things like questions about scarring, downtime I mean in a specific downtime kind of way, anything that’s clinical. How long it’s going to take, the surgery, all of that. Instead of trying to answer that and get it wrong because she’s going to look for consistency. If the receptionist answers a clinical question, the prospective patients going to ask you again and the answer better be the same.

So, instead have an overall answer to that and that is, “That’s a great question for Dr. Best to answer personally at your consultation. So, does October 14th at 3 p.m. work for you? You just move along and go for it and here’s what happens. The receptionist say to themselves oh my god I can’t say that I didn’t answer her question, that’s so pushy, but it’s not. It’s professional is what it is. Instead of looking at that, as pushy, it’s professional. When you use your tone of voice and you’re confident with what you’re saying the caller follows you. I can’t tell you how it works magically because you’re controlling the call and the caller has let go. And if the caller hasn’t let go and there’s a ton of resistance there frankly that’s a yellow flag for you. If they’re going to be this much trouble on the phone, are they going to get any better when they’re having surgery with you so I would consider that, and I would certainly try my strategies and I’ll bet you get a better result.

Now, if all else, fails you still want to get their contact information because you can always nurture that relationship. So, here are two ways to do that. “Okay Karen, it seems like you’re not quite ready to book a consultation just yet, but I’d be happy to add you to our VIP list to receive exclusive web offers but I just need your email.” Or, “Karen, I have an idea. We have a patient event coming up. Now it’s a fun event where we serve food and wine and we have giveaways. Dr. Best will talk about the latest surgical and non-surgical procedures that we have available today. So, if you’re interested I can mail or text an invitation for you and a friend,” and you leave it on a high note with a question mark. “and I can text it or an invitation for you and a friend” Now pause, zip it and let her give you either her email or her cell phone and you’re already ahead of the game because now you’ve got her name, you’ve got an awful lot of information and now you have her email or her cell phone.

So, I just covered a whole lot, there but here’s what I’d like to do. I would like to train your phone staff for you to become a true professional on the phones. There’s a website I have called convertphonecalls.com and here’s what you get. It’s my phone club for receptionists. Now here’s what they’re going to get, 18 training videos where I’m personally laying out the strategies and scripts so they can effectively convert callers to appointments and after every training video, they’re very short because I’m trying to keep things short and easy and sweet, so they’ll retain it. So, actually they have to answer a quiz after each training because that’s how they’re going to learn and retain the most important points. However, there’s also going to be two mystery calls per month made by my team and they’re going t, mystery call your office to help ensure that the new strategies are being used. This actually helps your receptionist stay on her A-game every day because she doesn’t know when we’re calling and it’s always good for us.

When you watch behavior, it seems like you get better behavior and then you’ll also get monthly report cards and call recordings sent directly to you so you can see how much better your receptionist is getting and then there’s a ton of accountability in this as I mentioned. We’re not just making a call; we’re handing you the report cards and the call recordings and then you decide if you want to share those with them or I can even do a coaching call with them. If they’re having some trouble I can usually turn them around pretty quickly and then we’ll also give them a certification. So, when they go through my training, they take the quizzes, they’re mastering the mystery calls they’re going to get a certification called The Best Practices Certified Telephone Ambassador and they can proudly display that and it will just help them feel more professional because a lot of times the receptionist do feel like the bottom of the totem pole but the offices who know better know that that’s a pivotal role in the in the practice. So please go to convertphonecalls.com and let me take care of that problem for you.

So, that is it for me today. Would you please subscribe to “Beauty and the Biz.” Of course, I would love a review if you’re getting value from this. Of course, reviews are super helpful and then if you would share this with your colleagues and/or your staff I think that would be super helpful for them and, of course any comments or questions you have you can just go to my website leave them there catherinemaley.com or you can follow me on Instagram @catherimemaleymba. That’s it for now.

We hope you found valuable insight on this episode of “Beauty and the Biz.” For more episodes tools and Catherine’s free book visit www.catherinemaley.com, that’s www.catherinemaley.com and be sure to subscribe to get the latest practice building strategies delivered to you and don’t forget to share this “Beauty and the Biz” podcast with your staff and colleagues.

Catherine Maley

Catherine Maley

Catherine is a business/marketing consultant to plastic surgeons. She speaks at medical conferences all over the world on practice building, marketing and the business side of plastic surgery. Get a Free Copy of her popular book, Your Aesthetic Practice: What Your Patients Are Saying View Author Profile.

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