10 STEPS FOR PROPER PHONE ETIQUETTE
The first interactions that your practice has with patients usually occurs over the phone. These interactions are critical in setting the tone and outward appearance of your practice. Ensuring that an organization’s front facing staff abide by proper phone etiquette can make a large difference in how an organization is perceived. This document will review tips and best practice guidelines for handling phone calls in your organization.
- Maintain Confidentiality: This tip pertains especially to healthcare providers who have a strict duty in ensuring patient information is kept secure. To make sure that patient information is not being improperly disclosed, the first step of any call is to ascertain the identity of the caller and, by checking your records, their ability to hear a patient’s information.
- Answer a call promptly: Whenever possible, answering immediately can help put your client in a better mood and so ease the following conversation. This step also helps with the perception that your office is ‘on the ball’ with a responsive capable staff.
- Introduce Yourself: Making a short introduction reminds your client or patient that they are speaking to another person on the other end of the line. It also will provide context on the role of whoever is answering the phone; some patients might call expecting to hear medical advice from their doctor when really an administrative professional is on line.
- Listen and Take Notes on the Call: Actively listening to your patients will help them feel that the organization is understanding what they want. While taking notes provides a document that you and your practice can refer back to after the phone call.
- Use Plain and Proper Language: Avoid overly complex jargon, or improper language.
- Be Honest if you can’t provide an Answer: Sometimes you’re asked for information that you cannot provide whether because you don’t know it or due to confidentiality. In both cases, it’s important to be honest with the client on why you are not able at the moment to answer their question and how they might get an answer.
- Be Mindful of Speed and Volume: Keeping a normal speaking speed and volume is critical to ensuring your information is conveyed properly.
- Ask before Putting a Client on Hold: Making sure that your clients are aware and willing to be put on hold is important to keeping them happy throughout the phone call. Whenever possible, keep the hold short or check in throughout the hold so that they know you haven’t abandoned them.
- Never interrupt a client: Letting your client speak helps them feel in control of a call.
- End the call smoothly: The end of the call is your client’s final impression of your organization. Ending it politely by relaying the conversation and going over main takeaways will help your client in the long run. Don’t forget to thank them for their call!