Have you ever had this experience?
You work all morning; then you get a few moments at lunch to make a much-needed appointment. You call your dentist/doctor/attorney/real estate agent, and they are on their lunch break too!
So, you get a recorded message.
And you leave a message.
They call you back after lunch, but of course, you can’t answer the phone.
You call back after work, but their office is closed, and you hear that recorded message again.
If you have a medical practice, your patients have undoubtedly experienced this exact situation as well. But there is a solution to this annoying everyday problem.
An industry has grown up around the idea of “virtual receptionists.” One of the key services that virtual receptionists provide is an after hours answering service.
Here’s how it works:
During the hours that you specify, you can have a virtual receptionist answer your phones for you. When a patient dials your office number during those hours, they are automatically forwarded to the desk of a real person manning the phones at a call center.
The virtual receptionist answers the phone with a friendly greeting, customized for your practice, and they offer to help your patient.
Virtual receptionists can make appointments, take messages, give out information, take down billing information, and even forward messages to you or your staff via email, voicemail or text message.
Who’s It For?
If you have patients who lead busy lives with work, kids and other responsibilities, they may not have time to call you during regular business hours.
With an after hours answering service, you can provide 24-hour coverage for your office. You don’t have to worry about frustrating your patients or making them feel like they are not important to you.
Instead, you can leave a positive impression every time.
Why Use an After-Hours Answering Service?
Even the smallest practices can benefit from having a virtual receptionist answer the phone after hours, or when your receptionist is on their lunch break. Here are a few main reasons you should consider it:
1. You’ll Get 24/7/365 Coverage
With an after hours answering service, you won’t have to worry about losing potential patients or leaving unnecessary gaps in your schedule due to your old-fashioned voicemail system.
Instead of hanging up and calling the next doctor on their list, patients can make, change or cancel appointments any time of the day or night.
2. It’s Cost-Effective
While it sounds like an expensive proposition, you can get a starter plan for less than a couple hundred dollars per month.
And your rates are based on the number of minutes that your virtual receptionist spends on the phone. So you’re not paying for someone to sit and stare at a phone that isn’t ringing.
3. Be Available for Your Patients
Patients love to hear a live person answering the phone, and they HATE voicemail. If you can get their issues taken care of on the first phone call, they will love you for it.
With an answering service, you can have important or urgent calls forwarded to your cell phone, or even have your virtual receptionist screen your calls if a patient asks to speak with you directly.
In the event of an emergency, the virtual receptionist can encourage the patient to head to the hospital and help them to stay calm, as well as to notify you immediately.
4. Get Basic Tasks Taken Care of While You’re Out
With an after hours answering service, your receptionist won’t have to worry about tracking down patients that called the night before. And the patient doesn’t have to deal with another phone call.
Your answering service can take care of other essential patient issues too, like making changes to billing or insurance information.
Get the right info immediately, in case your patient forgets, or doesn’t have time to call back.
5. No More Playing Phone Tag
Enough of the call, voicemail, return call, voicemail, callback, callback cycle!
You don’t have time for that, and your patients certainly don’t have time for that. With an after hours answering service, you can eliminate irritating phone tag situations.
Other Benefits of Virtual Receptionists
In addition to answering the phone, you can authorize your virtual receptionist to take care of other issues for you after hours. You can ask them to make calls to patients when they might be more likely to answer and have a chance to speak.
Call to remind a patient of an upcoming appointment, to get feedback on your service quality, or to make sure a patient filled their prescription.
You can even use the answering service as a sort of temp for your front desk. If a staff member is out sick or on vacation, the answering service can step in to fill their shoes in their absence.
The best part?
You can decide on your options and completely customize the service to fit your needs. It’s easy to get started.
If you have a medical practice, it’s worth checking out how the service can help your practice.
Check out Consumer Affairs industry comparison and find a 24/7 answering service that satisfies your practice’s needs.