Call Tracking 101 for Medical Practices

Introduction

[David] Good afternoon, everyone. I’m David Brooks and I’m co-founder of and marketing adviser to Doctor.com. I want to thank you for joining us this afternoon for what I know will be a very informative webinar. We’re glad to co-sponsor this program with Mark Sullivan, Director of Partnerships at CallRail. –

[Mark] Hi, everyone. Glad to be here. Thanks, David.

-Great. Thanks, Mark. Before I turn the microphone over to Mark, I’d like to ask the audience two poll questions. And the first one… You’ll see this appear in your upper right-hand corner. The first one is yes or no, “I have confidence that my staff is well-trained to handle new patient phone calls.” So if you could just vote on that.

And a little bit later on I’ll report back the poll question and the results, probably right before our Q&A session. So now, what I’d like to do is turn the presentation over to Mark to talk about CallRail, and specifically the technology behind call tracking and call recording.

So take it away.

– Thanks, David. Yeah, thanks, everyone, for showing up as well. We’re excited to present this webinar. This is the first one that we’ve worked on together, Doctor.com and CallRail. And we think that there are some nuggets of information that all of you will find helpful in here. So definitely communicate with us in the chat box if you’re at your computer, and we’ll get to questions at the end.

And let us know if there’s any glitches or anything as well so we can fix those, possibly during the webinar. Okay, so I’m going to dive right in here. We’re going to talk about call tracking for the modern practice. And I’m just going to go over kind of, you know, the why behind call tracking, call recordings, some specifics about HIPAA and regulations. And then, going to touch lightly on local SEO for doctors and practices as it relates to tracking numbers.

And then David’s going to have some great information about how to actually answer the phone and he’s going to go into some data on good ways, bad ways to answer the phone and to make sure that your practice is being represented properly. And also that you’re treating the leads for what they are. The leads that come in over the phone are really precious, and we marketers spend a lot of money getting them.

So, there is some pictures of us. And actually, my new title is Director of Demand Generation. I just switched in the past day actually. And yeah, so let’s dive right into this. Why track phone calls? This is an important question. The reason we’re going to track phone calls is because we spend a lot of time trying to generate phone calls for healthcare practices.

Whether you’re a practice owner yourself, or a doctor, or a healthcare marketer that works in this field, we spend a lot of time trying to make the phone ring. And so tracking phone calls gives us a lot more information about these. And this is no surprise to many of you, but in all the research that we’ve looked at, and that many others have looked at, it’s about a 70/30 split for inbound leads, 70% coming over the phone and 30% coming over web forms or email or some other, even walk-in traffic.

So it’s important to get the phone calls right. Understanding more about them can really help us dive deeper into the practice and understand what’s failing at really on the front lines of how people are interacting with our business. And also, what’s failing in the marketing or what’s succeeding in the marketing front.

So for those of you who aren’t familiar, call tracking is a tactic really to attribute phone calls to the sources that drove them. So, there’s a few examples here. We might be advertising offline. So think billboards, think radio spots, print flyers, and anywhere there’s a call to action that includes a phone number, we can actually place a unique phone number on that specific advertisement and only use it there.

And we can understand that any calls that come through that number and to our front desk, they’re coming from that specific advertisement. And the same is true with online. We can capture a lot more data with modern call tracking software from advertisements online.

So if you’re doing PPC, if you’re spending a lot of money on local SEO, you can actually learn quite a bit about the sources of that traffic and the… Think of Google Analytics for phone calls. So imagine having all the information at your fingertips that Google Analytics gives you about web sessions, but having that for calls to your business.

So really what call tracking does is it gives you a multi-channel perspective on what’s making the phone ring. So essentially, call tracking can help your practice attribute leads, tie them back to the sources where you’re actually spending money.

It can help you track the return on that investment. So, if you’re bidding on a certain keyword for your practice, let’s say you’re a dentist and you’re bidding on “dental implants” in your local market because that’s a very profitable service for you. You can actually track all the way back to the keyword the phone calls that came from that investment.

So that’s an expensive keyword in many markets. And understanding which phone calls were generated from that specific keyword are going to help you really go the third step here, which is optimize your spend. And you’re going to know what’s working, what’s not, for every keyword that you’re bidding on. And it’s not just PPC. That’s just an example. But once you optimize the spend, you really are on the path to acquiring more patients.

That’s the ultimate goal here of tracking and recording phone calls. So, let’s talk a little bit about HIPAA and call tracking. I don’t have to go over what HIPAA is per se with many of you. You’re familiar with it. But there are some extra precautions that we need to take when we work with what’s called protected health information, and call tracking data can actually include some of that.

So, just a small recap, HIPAA was actually passed in 1996. And it began to establish some guidelines for how to handle protected health information. And unfortunately, a lot of marketers and really people at the cutting edge weren’t able to interpret the best way to use marketing data. And there’s lots of other business applications that were limited by the HIPAA initial legislation.

So in 2009, actually as a part of the Stimulus Bill, the HITECH sort of update to HIPAA and protected health information guidelines was passed. And really, I’m going to read the goal here, the goal of HITECH was to promote the adoption and meaningful use of health information technology. And I like to say that this sort of opened up health marketing, healthcare marketing specifically, to using a lot of the same tools, tracking tools and methods, for understanding more about the path to purchase or path to booking that marketers and other industries have been using for a while.

So this was an exciting development. And it specifically added, in addition to precautions on encryption and technology environment to this data, it actually added the provision that we need to have a business associate agreement. We, as marketers, need to make sure there’s a business associate agreement with any vendor that has access to PHI. So PHI, just to make sure we’re all on the same page here, is anything that is individually identifiable related to someone’s health.

So, what HITECH did is essentially establish a security rule for housing this information. It required that business associates that have access, sign documents basically to say we take this seriously, we’re responsible if there’s a breach. And also encryption, so there’s actually a technology environment that makes sure that this information is encrypted at rest, in transit, and is on servers that have a certain level of security technology.

So, in order to be fully, fully HIPAA compliant, call tracking needs three things. It really needs the security environment and understanding of the importance of protected health information that comes through. Keep in mind that just a phone call to a specific specialist from an individual’s phone number, which can be tracked to their caller ID potentially.

So just a phone call that happens, and the metadata from that phone call without even recording anything, can actually tip off the sort of PHI alarm so to speak. If I have cancer, God forbid, and I call an oncologist, a specialist, and my numbers are publicly available through caller ID records, then that is protected health information.

So we just want to be careful with this data, make sure that we’re using a solution. If we end up using call tracking, we think it’ll work for a business, we want to make sure we’re taking it seriously and the vendors we’re working with are taking it seriously as well. So, security PHI, and then also encryption for call recordings and any other metadata that’s captured.

That’s really, really important. And also, a signed BAA, a signed business associate agreement. If you’re working with a vendor, any vendor, not just call tracking vendors, that has access to PHI, you want to make sure that you’re getting a business associate agreement signed. And we do have all of these at CallRail. We take this very seriously and we’ve been sort of the leader in making sure that call tracking information, and PHI specifically, is protected for healthcare organizations.

So, I want to dive into phone calls for a moment, the recordings of them and why recordings can really transform your business. And David’s going to go way more into detail about what you can learn from these call recordings. And there’s really one reason to begin recording calls. There are so much hidden inside those phone calls about the lead quality.

The questions that are being asked can be turned into content ideas for your website, right? There’s information about the customer service that your front desk person or your receptionist is giving. You can learn about, you know, missed opportunities that are happening just because there’s a lack of understanding.

So there’s so much hidden in those phone calls. We’ve done a few case studies with customers of CallRail and it’s really fascinating because the vast majority of our customers, when we ask them what are the features that really have transformed their business, they typically say call recording. So attribution is sort of the reason that people get into call tracking and call recording software or call tracking software.

And then call recording ends up being the, at least when we interview them, one of the most important features that they could never let go of with their practice and with their business that uses it. So definitely, definitely start playing around call recordings. And hopefully, you’ll get to a point to where you can understand which are good leads, which are not, out of all the callers that are calling.

And on that note, if you’re a high-volume practice, it can actually be overwhelming to listen to all of those calls. You can do manual audits, which have been really helpful with clients that I’ve worked with in the past. But also, there’s a technology we just released CallRail’s version of, it’s called Automated Lead Scoring.

And basically, we call it CallScore. But essentially, this actually looks at the lead quality. And we’re analyzing the content of the call and we’re automatically classifying as a good lead or a bad lead. So at least, you can know which are missed opportunities when they don’t turn into appointments, the good leads. This is a really, really cool technology that we’re just rolling out right now.

And I’m excited to see how people use it to sort of avoid having to listen to tons of phone calls and really get more insight on what’s working on their marketing. But also, where are those missed opportunities from the leads that didn’t turn into appointments, and get more insight from those specifically and not have to listen the ones that folks aren’t interested in.

So definitely check out automated lead scoring, and this is included in every CallRail plan. So obviously, I want you to use CallRail, we want to win your business. But definitely, whatever you’re using, check out any sort of automated lead analysis that they have. So lastly, I want to talk for a moment about tracking numbers and local SEO.

A lot of us spend a lot of money advertising our businesses on really, they’re not paid platforms, but making sure that we are showing up in Google Maps, we’re showing up in Yelp, and that we’re visible wherever people are searching for local information about services that we provide.

And so, making sure we get this right is important. And because we’re talking about SEO here, it’s not always clear the best practice when it comes to tactics like using tracking numbers for local SEO. But there is a way to do this.

Let me talk to you briefly about the controversy that’s come up with using tracking numbers. Basically, name, address, phone number consistency, some of you may be familiar with that, but this is a really important ranking factor when it comes to local search results. And Google’s basically said as much. They only have a certain amount of information to show a searcher and they want to make sure that information is correct, name, address, phone number.

Because think about it as a searcher, if you actually go and you search for a local, let’s say, podiatrist, and the information that you get on Google when you searched that is wrong. You call and you get a wrong number. Or you drive to the location and it’s not there anymore. Your likelihood of using Google again to make a similar search plummets, really.

I mean, you might go to Yelp or you might go to another platform. So Google really values accuracy and consistency of this information and they take, as a ranking signal in local search results, the consistency of your information around the web, not just on Google My Business. So, the controversy here with using tracking numbers is that you really want to keep things consistent around the web.

And if you’re using different tracking numbers, then you’re going to screw up your NAP consistency, name, address, phone number. So this is what you should not do when it comes to tracking numbers and local SEO. You should not be putting different phone numbers on different directories. Absolutely, do not do this unless you just simply don’t care about your visibility in local search.

And there are businesses that don’t care, but basically, you’re going to confuse Google and Google’s going to be less likely to show your result with confidence high up as a trusted source or as trusted information for that query if you don’t have consistent information. So don’t use different phone numbers in different directories unless they’re paid. You can use different ones on paid because paid isn’t typically indexed and Google sort of knows when you’re paying for a paid directory listing.

Numbers representing businesses that can’t be ported. This happens a lot when you’re using a vendor that maybe includes a call tracking number in your marketing package that you’re buying from them. Be really careful with these and make sure that any number representing your business can be ported over to your carrier or whoever you want to use in the future.

Because what you want to avoid is getting locked into a scenario where you can’t actually take the number that represents your business all around the web. So definitely, make sure your numbers can be ported and that you own them whenever you use call tracking numbers on local SEO. And then, also avoid having different phone numbers on the website for the same location.

So just pick one number with a local area code for each location in each market and use that. So those are some things that you’ve really got to be careful not to do. The right way to actually track calls from local SEO, and I’ve written about this, I worked on a guide with Mike Blumenthal. Some of you may be familiar, he’s a local search expert that blogs often about changes in Google’s algorithm and local search tactics.

But I worked on a guide with him, and you can look it up or maybe we’ll send it out in the recap email, but there’s a guide on using the Main Line Tracking Number method. And I also have a few blog post on the website that explain what is a Main Line Tracking Number. It’s your main business number, right? You can actually port your business number over to a call tracking software provider and begin collecting data, begin recording those calls, begin collecting the metadata, and then begin getting some analysis on what’s a good lead and what’s not.

You can do all that with your main business line and keep that on all of the citations and directories around the web. So that’s one way to do it. And you can also focus on one metric above all else when you do this. First-time callers is the metric you want to focus on. Total call volume, you’re going to be taking credit, or your marketers are going to be taking credit, for a lot of calls from existing patients that may be calling back to confirm an appointment or they have questions.

And so, that’s why first-time callers is really a reporting metric that is the golden standard when it comes to tracking phone calls from local SEO efforts. So, I know this can get a bit dense, this whole topic of local SEO. I am totally happy to answer questions on email. I answer lots of questions all the time.

I can send you information that’s really helpful to understand how to do this right. And you can send me an email at mark@callrail.com or you can reach out to me at @mpsulli on Twitter. And so with that, I’m going to turn it over to David, who’s going to dive into what’s going on with the phone calls and how you can make sure your staff is representing your business correctly.

So, David, I’m going to turn it over to you. Are you there?

– Yes, I am. Great. And thank you very much, Mark. Excellent content and very interesting. I jotted down a few questions and I’m sure everyone else might also have some questions. If you do have questions, use the chat function on the left and just put them in the window. People have actually emailed a couple of questions beforehand.

And so, we’ll be able to answer those as well during there. I’m going to load the second poll there, which is, “What percentage of new patient calls are answered by a real person?” So we’ll start that right now. And if you could just quickly give your votes to that. And so, what I’m going to do now is transfer the screen over to my slides.

And can everyone see that?

– I can.

– Great. Okay. I’ll presume that everyone else can see that as well, so I’ll proceed now. So thank you, everyone. So first, I just want to give a brief word about Doctor.com. We’re the leader in healthcare marketing automation. That’s software and services for reputation management and new patient acquisition.

We only work for physicians. So we’re uniquely qualified to work on local business marketing issues for your practice. We offer three unique solutions. A convenient central platform that lets you manage your practice’s listings on more than 60 different local business and doctor directory websites. We also have a content network comprising 8 of the top 10 healthcare websites.

And collectively, that network reaches 30 million patients each month. Finally, we have a unique in-office laptop computer that we call the Review Hub that makes it simple, fast, and easy to collect reviews from real patients. And then we publish those reviews across our entire network. So here are some quick facts about new patient calls.

A patient is 10 times more likely to make an appointment over the phone versus a web form. And based on our own data, more than half the phone calls to your practice result in a hang-up or no answer. And more than 70% of people who search for you on their smartphone will actually then call you.

Being mobile-ready, being mobile-friendly is critically important. But the majority of those people that find you online with their mobile phone, are still going to make that phone call. So phone etiquette, phone skills is extremely important to your medical practice. So here’s a simple tip. If you want more business, simply answer your phone. Based on our experience and a review of a lot of the phone calls for marketing, we find still that a lot of practices do not answer the phone.

And it’s just very frustrating to us to see the big picture. But let’s kind of understand why that happens or why that doesn’t happen. We think it happens because most practices have inadequate policies and procedures for phone handling. So here are some of the things that we see. Patients hate voicemail.

Patients hate automated attendance, the evil cousin of voicemail. They want to speak to someone and they want to speak to someone now. Your staff is overworked and under trained. Most don’t follow best practices for new patient calls. Even if they were properly trained, your staff is rarely compensated for setting appointments that stick and show up.

And most practices don’t have a culture of continuous learning. It’s important to critically evaluate calls based on objective data and to do so in a collegial manner and in a collegial environment. And I’ll talk about this in a minute. So, how do you get started in setting the policy? For doctors, that’s easy.

Everyone who’s a doctor is probably very scientifically oriented and they want to observe and document using objective data about what you’re already doing. And this is one of the best reasons to implement call tracking and call recording simply to get the data to benchmark what you’re doing right now and your own performance.

So quite simply, the most important goal and the thing to always keep in mind is making sure that everyone in the chain understands that a new patient call, a qualified new patient call, the objective of that call is to get them to come in and show up for an appointment. That is your standard.

That’s what you’re looking to do. Everything else is sort of just noise and, frankly, maybe a waste of your money. So next, in setting the call plan and the objectives, let’s discuss the anatomy of a great call. Everything that I’m about to describe should happen in the first 20 seconds when a caller calls in.

Strive to pick up that phone on the first ring. Clearly state the name of your practice and your own name. So, Smiles Dental, the office of Dr. Smith. This is Dave. Don’t use shorthand or something cryptic like “doctor’s office.” And consider using some sort of tagline, especially if you can tie that back into your other offline marketing.

It reinforces your branding. It really depends on cultures. Some people just don’t like to use tag lines. They think they’re corny. Other people think they’re really good. It’s a great mnemonic device to get people to kind of remember who you are and distinguish yourself online. So I personally am a fan of that, but it’s not a hard-and-fast law.

Next, you want to establish a sincere and friendly tone. Signal to the caller that you’re there to listen, and thank them for choosing your practice. And this one is kind of crucial and people forget this, make sure that you exchange information with the caller right away.

Then say something like, “Before I forget and in case we get disconnected, can I get your name and your phone number?” And this is really important. I think Mark can probably bear this out, too. But the caller ID information is, at best, maybe accurate half the time even when it’s provided. So, just because you might have caller ID or you might have a lead capture system that brings in caller ID information, more often than not, it’s wrong.

Sometimes it’s even missing. So it’s always very good practice to document the name, the first name, last name, and the real phone number. You might actually get lucky and get two different phone numbers, a cell phone or a home number. And finally, just as an overall kind of first impression is the demeanor is so crucial.

Allowing callers to speak without interrupting them or without placing them on hold, a friendly, warm, unhurried no matter what. Callers can sense an audible difference between a smile and a frown, so monitor your tone of voice through awareness of your expression. So, the Call Plan is the objective template you’re going to use to train, coach, and evaluate staff performance.

And here’s a few tips when you develop your own call plan. First, listen carefully to try and identify the intent of the caller, then choose a strategy that is proven to result in a new patient booking. Every call is just a little different, and so it really helps to kind of diagram what those calls are like and then develop different strategies for how the call is going to proceed with the overriding objective being to get an appointment.

And you want to always test and come up with objection handling, role-playing, and a lot of exercises at getting your staff to kind of identify common objections, and then working together to find the best strategies to overcome those objections.

One big one is price quoting. Patients are always going to be asking for a price, especially on the internet. That’s just one of the things that people do a lot is they shop around online to try to, out of ignorance, they just are shopping based on price. And it’s rarely in your interest to compete on price unless you actually are one of the few practices that wants to compete on price.

But for the vast majority of people, they want to compete on the quality of service, the quality of care. So, always counsel your staff to avoid answering any questions about price. One of our clients is a great dentist here in New York City and he deflects pricing questions by turning around the premise of the question.

So when a patient asks, “How much do you charge for dental implants?” The doctor turns that around. First by refusing to give a quote for the reasons that I was describing before and then pivoting and saying, “We specialize in advanced dental techniques that preserve your teeth.Many of our patients think they need implants, but we can often work to save the teeth and avoid unnecessary surgery.”

And I think that’s genius. He’s just differentiated himself against all the other dentists that that patient’s been calling and he’s made a very compelling reason to come in for an appointment. Avoiding unnecessary surgery is a really good reason to go see a dentist and to get a professional opinion. And more often than not, he can actually work and avoid those kind of situations.

So that’s his thing. I’m sure just brainstorming with your staff and understanding the patient mindset, you’ll come up with other objectives, but never let a patient pin you down and try to demand and make you a commodity just based on price. The call length should be around three to five minutes. You’re trying to book the appointment, no more, no less.

So it’s probably tedious if it goes a little bit longer than that one. And you’re probably racing the patient and rushing them if it’s less than three minutes. So it’s just important to establish a certain amount of rapport. So let’s build on this last point, the assumptive close. Now, what is that? The assumptive close is a phrase that salespeople use to describe the attitude you assume when the customer is ready to buy.

Or more importantly, you assume that the customer is already going to say yes. We’ve all experienced this. If you’re in a gift shop, a good salesperson never asks, “May I help you?” Rather, they say something a little bit more sophisticated like, “What sort of gift are you looking for today?” The salesperson just got you to agree that you want to buy something.

Now he’s going to help you decide on what to buy. You see, it’s a subtle yet a very big difference. Tell your staff to assume the patient already wants to come in, they just don’t know it yet. It’s simply understanding human nature and nudging the patient to make the right decision, “Stop shopping and come in for an appointment.” So call recording and call tracking are great tools, but very powerful and very strange if you’ve never been subjected to a playback coaching session.

Unless you’re a professionally trained salesperson, you’re probably not going to be comfortable with the “eavesdropping and second guessing” that comes from some Monday Morning Quarterback listening to everything that you’re going to say on the phone. So, tread very carefully. Remember, this is about getting someone on your staff to do the right thing, not to point out mistakes and weaknesses.

Now, I know that doctors are rarely brusque and discourteous, but I feel it’s important to kind of reinforce this point just in case. Work with your staff towards maximizing positive outcomes over time through positive, supportive. evidence-based coaching. Avoid anything that could be misconstrued as a personal attack. And hire carefully looking for excellent natural phone sales skills or at least a coachable attitude.

I want to speak for a brief moment about after-hours calls. In our examination of a lot of the inbound calls that our clients receive, we see a very distinct pattern. And you can see, on the left are sort of the new patient call volumes that are calling in to a tracking number.

And you can see there’s a peak right around the office hours, you know, either opening and then certainly right around closing time. And what happens? Well, if you’re like most practices, you get voicemail, and when you listen to the recordings, you hear lots and lots of hang-ups. And that’s a real shame.

Think about the person who’s calling early mornings or right around closing time, specifically they want to speak to someone. Maybe it’s they have a sick child, maybe they have some urgent question they want to answer there and they got busy at work and they really want to speak to you. It’s so important to be able to capture these opportunities. So, if you find a way to hire someone who is specifically trained on inbound telemarketing or, you know, it could be a staff person, it could be an outside service, but one or two pegs above the traditional kind of answering service.

And then, I guarantee that you’ll start getting more business simply because you didn’t send that anxious caller to voicemail jail. So, I just want to conclude great phone skills are learned and coached over time. Hire a good team, give them proper tools, training, and incentives, and especially the time and resources.

Don’t overburden a receptionist and then try to rate him or her on their phone selling skills. Do role-playing, scripting, diagramming, and the goal of all those calls is to get a commitment for and to actually have a sticked appointment. Train your staff not to quote pricing and absolutely, you know, and I think this goes without saying, but don’t diagnose over the phone.

Use call recording and call tracking as a training tool but not as a trap. And consider after-hours phone coverage with a professional answering service to catch those incremental opportunities when the phone before wasn’t turned on. Okay. And so now, I’m going to turn the presentation back to you.

And we’re going to answer any questions that you might have.

– Hi, David. I’m not seeing any questions coming in right at the moment, but I actually have a few questions for you.

– Okay.

– This is where I get to hijack the webinar and ask you questions. But if anybody else wants to do the same hijacking, send in a question with the chatbox and we’ll try to get to it. So I have a question around the recommendation to use a you say after-hours call answering service. But I’m wondering, for certain practices that have these spikes in call volume at certain times a day where it’s really predictable, do you recommend having not just after-hours call answering service, but really an overflow or a fallback number where people get to a person every single time they call during business hours and certain after-hours times?

– Yeah, I mean, it’s a good question. It ultimately comes down to a question of, you know, staffing, what’s reasonable. And I think you should always recognize that you might have one dedicated person who’s your pro. We work with another dental client. They have, I think, 10 providers, 10 dentists on staff, and they have an RN who is actually they’re inbound dedicated person.

But they have a training program where there’s three other people in the practice who are specially trained on phone selling skills. So on peak demand, there’s a rollover and each of those people know that they’re on call and they are tasked with keeping that lead live and making sure that they, at least, can answer as many questions as possible or try to get the appointment.

And if not, then the senior closer can call them right back. My point is that sometimes you’re not a 10-provider practice and you might just be, you know, one or two people. And so, listen, everyone should be sensitive to these things and everyone should be trained on these things, but at some point, it’s probably better to outsource it so that people can have a personal life and, you know, asking someone to be available from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 5 p.m.

to 9 p.m. I think there’s just a really good opportunity and we’ve seen that with practices that have extended hours. They’re getting a lot more business simply because the patients who are calling in at that time are very anxious. It’s either an emergent condition or at least it’s in the mind of the caller, so the early bird gets the worm, right?

The first person that’s available to answer that call typically, if you do it well, you’ll get that patient and someone else won’t.

– Yeah, that makes sense to sort of, like, source internally and make sure that you, like, everybody on staff should be able to answer the phone at a minimum just to, like, provide friendly-sounding voice and, like you said, they can call back. That’s a way to sort of make use of, like, existing resources at the practice. Another question I have is, let’s see, I have like seven here that I wrote down while you were talking.

Oh, I did want to ask you about, like, certain, I saw this a lot with dentists, like, there are always going to be price-sensitive shoppers. So, you gave a good example of the dental implants, sort of like re-framing the caller’s question into a statement about avoiding unnecessary surgery.

But I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about how to handle price-sensitive callers. I mean, because we’re all price-sensitive to a certain degree, but some people just want to get prices. And this was a challenge when I was working with dentists and (inaudible).

– Yeah, it’s difficult to… If someone’s kind of shopping out on price, then it’s probably not going to be the greatest customer. You want to hit them with a lot of things that, you know, sowing the seeds of doubt into the low ball price.

And it’s like anything, you get what you pay for. So, what patients really want is they want to be reassured that they’re getting good value. A lot of times if they’re asking about price, either they don’t understand how much their insurance is going to cover or they don’t have insurance at all. So, you know, break it down a little bit.

Try to dissect. Why would you want to buy something based on price? You know, just throw it back and engage the person in an intelligent discussion to get them to see maybe there’s a bigger picture here. Because if it’s a question about like, “Well, my insurance carrier only covers this or that,” then you have part of your script that you can talk about how you work with the patient to help fill out insurance forms, get the maximum benefit to which they’re entitled, you know, and work on that.

If their concern is, you know, I’m a cash pay patient and I don’t have this one, then you can talk, you know, like, our New York dentist about the idea, “Well, who told you you need dental implants?And why do you think, you know, maybe there’s a way that we can save your teeth without needing dental implants?”

Let’s come in and look at that. And then, if you have a policy where it’s no cost appointment or no cost, you know, opinion about those types of things. It’s challenging the assumption of the call and really getting the discussion off of price. Medical procedures, you know, this is not a commodity that you buy at the store. These are highly customized services and it’s just a real shame and it’s a disservice to the provider to allow the discussion to begin and end just on price.

– Okay.

– So I have a question for you about the process of transferring the business, the main business line over to a call tracking service. And I think people are familiar with the process of switching a phone carrier for cell phones where, you know, you put in a request and they transfer there. But if I’m running a big practice and I have my main number there, I’d be very skeptical, first, about entrusting that number to anyone.

And then, second, about, well, how long does it really take? I don’t want to just have the number out of service for weeks on end while people sort out that that’s my main number there. Can you talk a little more about the process of actually transferring your number?

– Yeah, and those are concerns we take very, very seriously as well. One of our founders always says that when he built out this solution in 2011 to sort of attribute phone calls to their sources online, he never realized that he was getting into sort of a mission-critical, you know, piece of infrastructure for the vast majority of businesses.

And he always jokes that, you know, he didn’t realize he was getting into that. But we take this very seriously and there’s a few things I’ll say about porting. So first of all, it takes anywhere, I think our average port time is, like, six days, six business days. So that’s from the time that you submit what’s called a request or authorization port request.

You fill that out, you give it to us. We don’t charge you anything, by the way, to port numbers in a CallRail. You can port them in, port them out free of charge. It’s completely included. And you can get started for just $30 a month, so it’s super affordable. And I’ll talk a little about the trust issue in a moment. But the process takes about six days on average.

And those are not six days that are lost, so to speak, of downtime. There’s actually, you know, zero downtime. There should be zero downtime whenever you’re porting a number. I mean, there might be some seconds that sort of are missed during a certain port, but many carriers port, they actually switch over the ports, during off-peak hours and to sort of account for those few seconds.

But in general, you set up everything within CallRail before you port a number over. So you already have everything set up to where it’s going to behave exactly like you want it to behave whenever that number does get ported over. And it really isn’t any different from a carrier switch that you do with your cell phone. You can walk into a T-mobile store, if you have Verizon, and you can switch to one of their phones and have your number when you walk out.

It happens really, really quickly. They have a system that enables them to do it a lot quicker than the way that we have to do. We have to rely on carriers’ policies around porting. So a lot of carriers want to keep you on their plans, so they’re the ones, typically, I don’t want to call them back guys, they’re typically the ones that slow things down.

Because it’s not a priority because they’re losing business. But we take this very seriously at CallRail, and we think people’s businesses, you know, that messing with someone’s business number is not really the way to go to win loyalty and trust. And as far as trust goes, when you’re porting over to call tracking software, you just want to make sure that this call tracking software takes the job of routing your phone calls as seriously as you do.

And you can really just look at how many customers use them. So CallRail, I’m really, really excited to say we have over 40,000 companies in the U.S. and Canada that use CallRail today for all types of call tracking needs and call recording needs.

So, make sure you’re working with a reputable company that takes the job seriously and really invest in their technology. Did that answer your question?

– Yeah. No, that’s good.

– Okay.

– So I had another question kind of related to that, and this is somebody had emailed us. One of our clients wasn’t able to make it today. So, they said specifically, “Do you need permission to record a patient call?” You know, there’s a lot of different regulations. I think they probably live in a state that requires that. How do you handle that?

– Yeah. So good question and I’m going to put aside, sort of, the concerns about HIPAA for a moment and just talk about call recording and consent. There are different states in the country that have different sort of consent laws around call recording, and we separate these states into one-party consent states or two-party consent states. And really what this means is some states you don’t have to notify the other party that you’re recording the call.

And that’s a one-party consent state. And in those states, you are not legally obligated to tell the caller that the call is being recorded. But you do have to tell, like, you can’t just record calls without one of the parties knowing. So you do have to tell your staff that the calls are being recorded, of course. But in one-party states, you don’t have to, sort of, have that greeting we all hear, which is, you know, “This call will be recorded for quality assurance.”

In two-party states, you absolutely should notify the caller that the call is being recorded. And this is pretty easy. I mean, standard CallRail setup includes notifying the callers the call’s being recorded if you turn on call recording. And when I’ve work with my consulting clients in the past, I actually would have somebody at their staff, maybe the doctor themselves, record a greeting themselves and just say like, “Hey, we record calls to make sure you’re getting the best quality customer service.”

You know, just tell them in your own voice that you’re going to record the call and then that really disarms the vast majority of callers that are already really desensitized to that greeting anyways. So, check and see if you’re in a one-party state or a two-party state. And this gets a little bit confusing when you have phone numbers that are area codes from different states, but just go with wherever the location of the business is located.

Go with the laws for that state and make sure you have it set up either as a one-party or two-party consent.

– Great.

– Yeah, good question.

– Okay, any questions for me?

– Oh, yeah. Well, just in general, like… Well, I have two more questions. So, why do you think there’s no planning around, like, phone calls? Like, sort of brought up, like, the challenges, this is, like, the front line of how people interact with a business. I’m just, like, do you think it’s just timing or I guess…

– You know, I think doctors care about patients, and procedures, and compliance, and billing, and insurance, and the thought about setting up a quasi-professional inbound telemarketing operation is not on the top 10 list of priorities that most providers are thinking about.

And it’s not, you know, it’s…

– That makes sense I guess.

– You know, “I went to medical school to become a great doctor. I didn’t go there to learn how to do telemarketing,” you know. And so, it’s one of those things that you just think will happen and, of course, it’s common sense that everyone knows how to talk on the phone or that, you know. But the reality is a lot different. And there’s some real psychology that goes with understanding how to talk to people on the phone with an objective.

And some people, you know, naturally get that. Other people think it’s, you know, kind of unusual and they’re uncomfortable doing that. So, it takes the right person to be on the receiving end of those calls. Not everyone’s cut out to sell. And some people, you know, need to be taught and to recognize what to do then. It happens with scripting and with diagramming.

So, you know, you can see it a lot in professional sales organizations where everyone understands that call recording is just, you know, part of the beast and everyone accepts that and acknowledges that. But outside of professional selling, it’s kind of a gray area. So you know, the basic thing is to just have a meeting with the staff and to introduce the topic and say, “We need more appointments and we need to understand why people aren’t booking, so let’s work together to figure this out.”

And not confrontational, but collaborative and collegial, that’s the way to kind of do it here. Oftentimes you’re dealing, unless you’re a very large practice, you don’t have the luxury of a dedicated salesperson. So, you’ve got to kind of work with your existing staff to give them and coach them on the sales skills. And if not, you have to work with outside people that are adept. There are several people, and if anyone’s interested, I can send you a list of those people that I’ve met and come across that we think are better than average when it comes to coaching people on terms of inbound phone support.

And just, you know, send me an email. It’s davidb@corp.doctor.com, and I’ll be glad to share those resources with you.

– Yeah, so it seems like the best way to, like, think about phone calls is really to use, like, to think about how when someone walks into your practice or your clinic, like, think about that, you know, does the door work, right? That’s like if the phone rings or not, is the phone system working?

And then, you know, the greeting, whenever they walk in, does someone greet them? It seems like there’s a lot of attention placed on, like, that process. And then, maybe they have to wait for a moment because they can’t be attended to right then and maybe they have a nice waiting area. Like, it seems like when someone, when leads are calling over the phone and in such high numbers, and that’s your first experience for the business, at least as much attention should be placed on that experience as a caller as what’s really happening inside of the clinic or the practice itself.

It seems, like that might be a good way to think about it.

– Yeah, I think so. I think if you’re spending money to decorate, you know, your front office and you’re spending time thinking about the way that people are, you know, how your door looks and how the parking lot looks, you ought to be thinking about, you know, professional phone training. Not just hiring nice, polite people to answer the phone, but to really peel back and understand the psychology of the inbound calls, psychology of a new patient calling in.

That’s as critical.

– Right.

– Because you’re never going to get that patient to walk in your nice new front front door if you didn’t have sufficient phone skills to be able to get them to confirm the appointment.

– Yep, that makes sense.

– Okay, you had one last question?

– I’ll save it. I’ll stop hijacking the webinar here.

– Well, we promised people that we’d be 45 minutes, we’re just a little bit over that. So I want to thank those people who are still on the call. We will send out a recording to everyone even if you didn’t make it and you’re not here, doesn’t matter. But we’ll send you a link to the video that’s posted on YouTube to summarize that.

And, Mark, I think you had a sort of an extra offer for people about HIPAA compliance?

– Yes, so actually, we worked really hard on a white paper that goes over sort of the regulatory environment around phone calls and HIPAA compliance, and CallRail sort of answer to that. But it’s really educational. It can be helpful, so we’ll include that in the email. I’m also going to work with our team and see if I can get a free trial offer specific for the folks that registered for the webinar, as well.

So lookout for a white paper on HIPAA compliance and call track and call recording from us. And also, I’ll try to get you a link, David, for free trials. So we’ll reach out to them.

– Great. And just one last thing is the poll results. The first question was, “What percentage of calls are answered by a human?” And the poll said that greater than 70% of calls, that got the most votes, most people answered with that.

Very few people felt that there was less than that. And the other question was about how confident they were, and 80% felt that they were very confident in their phone handling skills. So, we’ll see. Thank you very much, everyone, for joining us and look forward to having a new webinar.

I think the next one will be in early December. Thank you very much. Have a good day.

– Take care. Bye.