Please listen to, then evaluate, the call using the distinctions presented in The TAFI Introduction™ before proceeding to our Evaluation. The main benefit of Call Of The Month is to ‘Flex your self-coaching muscle.’
» Listen to August, 2016 Call of The Month
» Call Analysis and Recommendations
Empathy is Everything
Master Telephone Communicators, what we like to call TAFI Masters , know that the keys to connecting with Callers include: establishing rapport, conveying empathy, and exuding enthusiasm.
The Team Member begins the call with a strong greeting, and even uses the Caller’s name at various points in the call (although we always like to see the Caller’s name used early and often). She also uses excellent vocal variety, that is, a nice use of inflection, tone, and resonance of the voice.
What we find rather lacking in the call is the Team Member establishing and continually demonstrating empathy with the Caller and her situation. While this lack of empathy may, in part, be explained by the fact that the office is closing, and the Team Member is on the phone with an insurance company, this raises the important point about prioritizing calls. When a prospective patient calls, that call needs to be placed front and center. Because the average lifetime value to a practice of a new patient is around $6000, and we are in the business of helping people with their oral health needs, a new patient call must always take precedence over a call with an insurance company. As the Team Member was able to place the insurance company on hold, why could she not either call them back, or ask them to continue to hold? If this is a consistent challenge faced by the practice, there are several excellent services, which can largely relieve the front desk from taking valuable time confirming coverage, eligibility, and other such reimbursement-related matters.
Speaking of placing a caller on hold, the final statement of The TAFI Introduction™ offers a way to do so courteously and professionally. Instead, the Caller was placed on hold for nearly two minutes, being forced to listen to silence. This is also where a well produced, and regularly updated On Hold Message System in tandem with deft application of The TAFI Introduction™, can prove invaluable.
Issues with empathy continue throughout the call. When the Caller shares that, within the prior year she was abducted, held hostage, and savagely beaten, it’s clearly appropriate to acknowledge the Caller’s plight. Instead, the Team Member responds with “Ya, before you go on anymore…”
Another missed opportunity to show empathy, and to connect with the Caller, is when she shares “My teeth were gorgeous and now i’m so embarrassed,” as well as when she shares that she is “…a victim of violent crime” and the Team Member responds with “Okay, so you need to set up an appointment then?”
Still another opportunity to establish rapport is when the Caller shares “I’m a Level I Trauma Nurse – Oh I miss it so much.” and the Team Member’s response is ” Okay.” And again when the Caller says “The right side of my face is broken.” to which the Team Member replies with “Right, right. Okay.”
The Caller is clearly motivated, and has the means to pay to have her dental needs addressed. It is, therefore, in everyone’s interest to see this patient as soon as possible.
On the plus side, the Team Member rather quickly realized that the Caller was not adamant about seeing the same dentist she’d seen 23 years earlier. Specifically, she deftly offered the option by saying “I would be happy to see you if you’d like to schedule here.”
The Team Member also asks the Caller about discomfort, which is a definite indication of empathy, but waits to do so until rather late in the call.
TAFI Masters know that, while it is essential to gain control of the call, it is equally important to do so in as courteous and professional a manner as possible. This is where The TAFI Introduction™ proves indispensable.
To place this particular call, and TAFI Training in general, in perspective, I want to share that I know this Team Member. I know that she is a genuine, caring professional who has deep compassion for her patients. In other words, and this is what TAFI is all about – we cannot teach people how to care. What we can do is help them demonstrate that caring more effectively over the telephone. You’ve heard me say (and write) it before:
people don’t care how much you know
until the know how much you care.
And that caring begins with the first call to your office.