It’s Monday morning and by 8:30 a.m., the phone lines are lit up at most medical offices. The weekend’s ailments, sniffles, and injuries require an appointment to see the doctor. Maybe 100 patients will call before noon. The problem is, the medical offices are staffed with one or two people to manage the call volume. Hopefully, the practice manager has installed basic call center software on the phone system. The call center software should be designed to queue up callers in the order they were received, instruct them to be ‘patient’ until their call can get answered, then places the call into a queue or essentially “on hold’. The software may even offer the caller an ‘approximate wait time’ although this capability is not highly reliable in small call center environments.
So now, we have patients……on hold, possibly a bit stressed from a health perspective, and they have a phone pressed against their ear. Hopefully, practice manager has considered ways to occupy the patient while they are sitting in the waiting area, and at significant cost. Perhaps there is a flat panel TV screen or two that is featuring health tips. Maybe network news is on. It’s likely there are magazines and aquariums to occupy patients…and possibly even an area for children to play. The chairs are comfy and may have cost $250 each. The artwork is exceptional…and all are necessary!
Your Comfy Waiting Room Isn’t The Only Place Patients Are Waiting!
But let’s get back to that caller that is still in queue or on hold. What are they experiencing in terms of being occupied? Is the telephone ‘on hold waiting area’ receiving any attention? Or…..because nobody can visually see it and experiencing it like they would experience walking through their own lobby, does this waiting area look and feel more like an abandoned warehouse? Doctors and practice managers walk through their own waiting areas every day, but do they call their own practices and experience ‘waiting’ from that perspective? Not typically.
The good news is that your local medical practice is most likely aware of the condition. Nearly 80% of all medical practices deploy some sort of audio to the caller on hold. The choices range from occasional ‘beep-beep’ tones (designed to simply assure the caller they are still connected) up to a professional customized messaging program that keeps the callers engaged by offering health tips, or featuring new services or capabilities at the practice. Some of the newer telephone system technologies offer ways to further capitalize on professionally deploying on hold messaging services.
The good news about using an on hold messaging service, such as Patients On Hold, is that once it is set up and operating, it works around the clock. It typically needs to be ‘updated’ 2-4 times per year to reflect seasonal variables. If you are a practice manager, call time-out on a Monday morning and try to ascertain just how many callers are actually on hold, waiting, in your “telephone lobby’”. You may be fairly surprised!
Rich is the President of On Hold Marketing, a marketing focused audio studio helping businesses and practices take advantage of their telephone system’s On Hold capabilities. Prior to On Hold Marketing, Rich spent 20 years in telecommunications working for such giants as Williams Communications, NextiraOne, Bell Atlantic and Nortel Networks.