Patient Experience: How Telephone Skills Really Make a Difference

Have you ever heard the phrase “You can hear a smile”? These five words can play a big part in our telephone skills, especially when the day is not going so well. When we are face to face, it is easy to paint on a smile and cover up a stressful day, but we tend to forget how important it is to do the same thing when we speak on the phone. Let’s think about this for a minute.  All of us have had to call and make an appointment when we were not feeling well. How would you have felt if the person on the other end was either grumpy or seemed annoyed? A natural feeling would probably be “unattended to”.

A warm, friendly smile CAN be heard over the phone. We need to make sure that, even over the phone, we are cool, calm and collected; that every patient feels valued and appreciated.

Here is a simple checklist to help modify our telephone skills and create a better patient experience:

  1.  Be prepared and organized: Keep a pen and paper within your reach. The last thing you want is to tell your caller to “wait a minute” so you can grab something to write with.
  2. Use a headset: This will give your hands freedom to type or write at ease without the muffling sound of the phone being moved around.
  3. Speak slowly and clearly: Remember that the patient may have to write down information as well and giving them time to take some notes will show them that you are courteous and respectful.
  4. Don’t hang up before the patient does:  This can be seen as rude and hurried.
  5. SMILE: Keep a mirror at your desk if you need to just so you can see your smile! If you see someone who is tired, it is most likely that your patient will sense the same thing.

Let’s take the time to put this simple checklist to good use and practice our smile!