Virtual receptionists are becoming popular in the offices of doctors, lawyers, real estate agents, contractors and all kinds of small businesses. They can offer a lot to a small office environment, and are more cost-effective than you might think.
But let’s start with the basics:
What is a virtual receptionist?
A virtual receptionist is a real live person (not a machine) who works on a team of virtual receptionists providing customer service to thousands of businesses across the country. When a call is made to your office during the assigned times, they will be forwarded to the virtual receptionist, at which point this trained professional will answer your caller with your customized greeting. They will attend to your caller as if they were in your office.
Virtual receptionists typically offer a number of services, including:
- Taking messages
- Booking and confirming appointments
- Providing directions to your office
- Quoting services
- Collecting contact information
- Forwarding calls
- Forwarding messages to you or your staff by text message or email
- Making follow-up calls to gather feedback and help manage your reputation
Let’s discuss some of the most useful functions that a virtual receptionist can provide for your dental office:
Collecting and Verifying Patient Information
Instead of having your in-house receptionist spend time tracking down and collecting patients’ contact, insurance, and payment information over the phone, you can have an experienced, well-trained virtual receptionist do this work for you.
The training of your virtual receptionist(s) is entirely customized to your individual practice. You can specify exactly what type of information you need your VR to take down, and even have them fill out forms that might be specific to your practice.
Making and Confirming Appointments After Hours
Even the most dedicated in-house receptionist cannot work 24 hours a day. But your answering service can. Through your virtual receptionist, patients can make appointments at any time of day or night, or on the weekends. Since many people are not able to take care of making appointments during official business hours, this can be a great little benefit for busy patients.
They can also confirm appointments after business hours when you might be able to catch people at a more convenient time.
This can also free up your in-house receptionist to take care of in-office patients and work on other matters during the day. It also helps to ensure that you don’t have open space in your schedule due to unconfirmed appointments.
Offering 24-hour Coverage
As we have seen, you can have your incoming calls answered around the clock. They can answer routine patient requests, or tell the patient to seek immediate help in the event of a serious situation, or message/call you to set up a time to provide treatment.
It also makes your practice a lot more customer service oriented if callers know that they can make appointments or get information at any hour of the day or night.
In today’s world, people don’t always have time to call during the workday. It is much more convenient for some to deal with personal matters after they get home from work or on the weekends.
Easily Adjustable Hours
This is a convenient feature of most answering services.
If your business is seasonal, or if your in-house receptionist is out sick or on vacation, you can just add some extra minutes to your plan for the affected month. With a quality answering service firm, it is easy to adjust your plan for any given month.
When your in-house receptionist returns, or when the workload has settled down, you can simply adjust your plan down for the following time period.
Providing Patient Follow-Up
It can be tedious to conduct extensive follow-up with every patient that comes through your doors. But it sure is appreciated by patients.
Use your virtual receptionist to follow up with patients a week after their appointment.
They can ask if the patient has any additional questions, or if they were pleased with the service they received. You can even have them ask a few simple survey questions about your practice.
This detailed feedback can be used to improve your overall quality of service or to follow up personally with specific patients in need.
Overall, a virtual receptionist seems like an idea that only the biggest, most profitable practices could afford. In reality, plans begin at less than $200 per month.
Even if it is just to lighten the load on an overworked receptionist, answering services for dentists can save successful practices a lot of time and energy.