Finding the Best Answering Service Cost: How to Save Money on Medical Answering Services in 2019
Want to cut your medical answering service bill down by 25%? Here’s how.
Your patients can experience medical issues any day, which is why you need a great answering service. Save money and find the best answering service cost.
Is your busy medical practice losing patients because they simply can’t get through to you? Are you looking for creative ways to increase patient retention rates and customer satisfaction?
The average dental practice (just one example) only has a 65% retention rate, losing up to $800 per patient who takes their business elsewhere. You may have noticed a steep decline in your income, but how do you fight the good fight against patient attrition?
If you’re looking for ways to boost your patient engagement, this is for you. We’ll dig deeply into medical answering service cost and benefits, then help you optimize your current plan.
Does Your Office Need a Medical Answering Service?
If you don’t have an answering service already, you could be losing patients who need to schedule their appointments after hours.
Ideally, you’ll have a patient services portal on your website with a phone number for after-hours scheduling.
You may have seen service portals that allow patients to schedule online, but medical answering services allow for more personalized service.
As you start to search for a medical answering service, make sure that they’re HIPAA-compliant and that they can answer calls within three rings.
In general, medical answering service pricing depends on the volume of calls and their duration. Instead of having patients navigate a confusing, computerized phone system, you can have them speak directly with a live operator.
In the event of an emergency, the operator can direct patients to the services they need in real time.
Key Features of an Effective Answering Service
If you haven’t found the right answering service yet, you should ask for a trial period before you commit to a monthly plan. To test the service, you can call in yourself and book a sample appointment.
There are answering services that specialize in medical appointment setting and customer care. If they don’t respond to your telephone or email inquiry within one business day, keep looking for a more responsive company.
There are a few features that every answering service should have. Courtesy and attention to detail are absolutely necessary for after-hours patient care.
Quick Response Times
Any answering service pricing comparison has to include response time. How quickly does your service answer incoming calls?
To save money, you can put in a computerized screening tool. If your patients are looking for your location or hours, they don’t need to be connected to a live representative.
Computerized screening works best when patients can access a live operator at any time. That way, they won’t feel frustrated if they can’t find the information they’re looking for.
The best thing about an answering service is that you can turn it on when you’re busy in the office. If your phone lines all have patients waiting, the answering service can take the overflow calls.
If you’re looking to raise the bar on your customer service, consider having a live operator schedule appointments after hours.
In general, you can expect to pay a flat fee of $150 per month for scheduling services. If your scheduling software is complex, that fee might be higher.
Again, it’s a good idea to do some test runs before you commit to a service company. Create a focus group of existing patients and ask them each to schedule an appointment by phone.
Look for friendly, well-trained receptionists who act quickly to take care of your patients’ needs. They must be available during nights, weekends, and holidays for appointment scheduling and call transfers.
Personalized Customer Service
Creating a strong connection with your patients is more than important: it’s vital to the success of your practice. Having an on-call answering service will make patients feel more comfortable and satisfied.
People spend up to 17% more on businesses that have great customer service and they are more likely to make referrals.
If you have a large number of bilingual patients, you might want to invest in an answering service that can schedule patients and answer questions in both languages.
No matter the size of your practice, finding the right answering service can help you get your income back on track. There’s no reason to lose 35% of your patients every year.
Affordable Monthly Rates
Your average physician answering service cost will depend upon how many calls you receive per month. On the low end, you can expect to pay about $0.75 per call.
On the higher end, answering service pricing could be as much as $2.25 per call. If you’ve got a high volume of calls, you may be able to save money by negotiating a flat monthly fee with your service provider.
Look for an answering service that has call forwarding, call notification via text or email, and 24/7 phone support.
Another benefit of contracting with an answering service is that they take care of training and updating their receptionists. If you’re a small practice, you may not have time to answer every phone call yourself.
Outbound Phone Calling
One of the best reasons to contract with a call answering service is patient outreach. You may find that your patients haven’t left your practice but that they just need a reminder to schedule an appointment.
During a power outage or severe weather, your operators can make customer calls to cancel and reschedule appointments. You’ll never have to worry about patient communication, even if you can’t make it to your office.
Do You Really Need Bilingual Operators?
Surprisingly, more than 40% of people are fluent in more than one language. If you’re focused on doing patient outreach, a bilingual answering service can push you over the top.
Make sure that the operators are truly fluent and that they can serve your patients quickly in their native languages.
To reach more patients, you can offer a few language options on your website. If you’re in a town with a high density of practitioners, you have a chance to show your patients why you’re the best.
Finding a good answering service doesn’t have to be difficult. You might want to look for one that’s based in a larger city.
They should have the manpower to provide bilingual operators at any time of day, especially if you need more than two or three different languages.
You don’t have to limit your answering service to your off hours, either. You can route bilingual patients to an operator, even during your office hours.
Lower Your Medical Answering Service Cost
If you have an existing service, how can you lower your answering service cost?
Take a look at the number of calls you get per month. If you’re below 100 per month, for example, you may be able to negotiate a lower rate.
Conversely, if you’re consistently surpassing 100 calls per month, you may want to upgrade your package to the next level.
Also, how long is your average phone call? Depending on the duration of your calls, you may qualify for a bulk discount.
You may be able to negotiate a pay-as-you-go plan instead of being locked into a monthly rate. Make sure that you ask about holiday rates, bilingual call transfer rates, and the cost of forwarding messages via email.
You don’t want to end up paying a lot of small fees, so interview at least three companies before you finalize a plan.
How to Find an Affordable Answering Service
The first step in finding an answering service is to ask for references from your colleagues. Do you know someone who can recommend a particular company?
If you don’t want to ask them directly, just place a few phone calls after hours. You can call a few offices during the evening or early morning and get a first-hand view of their wait times and customer service values.
Next, you’ll need to narrow down your list to a few top companies. Don’t hesitate to ask one company to beat another’s price. They want your business and may be willing to tailor a package to your needs.
Many companies will give you a free trial ranging from two weeks to one month. This will give you a good idea of the number and duration of patient calls.
You should definitely reference your new answering service in your marketing efforts. Let your patients know that you’re committed to improving their experience with your medical practice.
Upgrade Your Medical Answering Service
If you contract with an answering service, give them a quick call and ask about upgrading your service and lowering your monthly bill.
We work with businesses of any size to minimize their answering service cost. Whether you’re just starting out in the medical field or you’re an established practitioner, we can help you drive business and hold on to your patients.
When you call us or send us an email online, let us know your requirements for an answering service. We’ll help you tailor an affordable plan for after-hours patient care.
We’re HIPAA-compliant and ready to support your patient outreach and marketing goals!
We specialize in helping medical offices improve their response times and effectiveness. Fill out our form online to get a free quote!