Just how important are Telephone Messages #AnswerMachine


telephone answering maching

Just how important are telephone answering machines? VERY important as it keeps your customers informed of you’re opening days and times.

Last week I needed to contact my dentist for an urgent appointment. He is a one-man dentist, with a hygienist and a nurse/receptionist. When he has any time off the practice closes.

I rang at 09.00 last Monday morning, the telephone just rang and rang, no one answered and there was no telephone answering message. I thought they might be starting at 9.30 so I range again – still no answer. I did think this was strange as usually when he has been away on holiday he has answered the phone via his mobile and has advised from there. This time there was nothing.

I tried again just after lunchtime and again around 4.00 pm. I wondered if perhaps he was having a long weekend off. I even checked that I was ringing the correct number.

I tried again the following morning, at 9.00 and 11.00.

The worse part for me was the not knowing. Had there been a message to say how long the surgery was going to be closed for I could have then made a decision to either wait and see him or to seek treatment elsewhere.

As I needed an urgent appointment I telephoned another practice locally and was luckily enough to get an appointment that same afternoon.

Just as well I did as I was told that had I left it any later I would have probably lost the tooth.

I have been with my dentist for over 9 years. No reason to change to be honest, I am not fond of the dentist at the best of times, but he always seemed to be good enough.

I actually found the new dentist to be extremely pleasant, she made me feel very much as ease. The surgery surroundings were very relaxed and the Receptionist was lovely, she chatted away.  I felt far more relaxed when I went in to see the Dentist and she talked me through what she was going to do. The surgery was also much closer to home and there was free parking where I used to have to pay for parking at my other dentist and to add to it all the new dentist’s overall charges were considerably a lot cheaper than my regular dentist.

Taking everything into consideration I have decided to move to the new Dentist, it suits my needs much more, but I didn’t realise that until I was forced to visit the new surgery.

Had my old dentist had a telephone message advising how long the surgery would be closed for I would probably still be going there now.

So, it is vital that you have a good telephone message set up on your phones. Ensure that the message is appropriate and you might have to change a message if you have the following:

  • Morning opening times that differ
  • if you close for lunch – state what time you open again at and leave any emergency numbers as appropriate.
  • Evening closing times differ – again leave any emergency numbers
  • Friday night – leave messages appropriate for weekend closing and again leave any emergency numbers
  • If there is a bank holiday, please ensure that this is mention in the last message before the holiday.

Get someone who has a good clear voice to record the messages. It is essential that they speak slowly and clearly and repeat any emergency telephone numbers twice.

Get someone to check the messages regularly to make sure they are the correct ones.

If you do not want anyone leaving messages add this to your message and make it clear that the service does not accept telephone messages. If you don’t people will use it as a message machine.

There is nothing worse that getting a telephone answering message that is out of date or wrong!

Having the correct telephone message on your answer phone is important. You could lose customers if it’s not.

© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved

Communicating with your Receptionists #Managers


Being a doctors receptionist is no easy task, and certainly not the job some people seem to think it is, some think it’s sitting at the desk booking patients in to see the doctor and handing out prescriptions, oh no it’s so much more and more again. Being a doctors receptionist is a bit like marmite, you either “love it or hate it”. The receptionist that ‘loves’ his/her job will be loyal, hard-working and very proactive. They are the ones that can see problems ahead, make the best suggestions and really want the best for the practice. They are the ambassadors of your practice.

It saddens me when at some of my training sessions I hear that they sometimes do not feel appreciated and they don’t feel part of the team. They often blame Management for lack of communication who are occasionally not caring and unapproachable. This might not be true, but it’s how they feel. Lack of training is also another complaint that I hear of often. Many Receptionists feel that they could do so much more in their role, if only they had the appropriate training. This is where I step in and defend the managers! I know how hard the role of a manager can be, often being piggy in the middle; the Partners shouting on one side and the Staff on the other. There are budgets to follow and targets to hit, whilst trying to stay loyal to both sides. Being a manager can often be a very lonely job. Who is there for the Manager when it gets tough?

My role of manager soon taught me that communication is key. In communicating with the receptionists I came to learn, first hand, what the problems in reception were, before it got too late and became a bigger problem than it already was. Receptionists need to know what is going on, if they don’t they often jump to the wrong conclusion. They will often gossip between themselves and make up their own minds, which can often cause bad feeling within the team. Having a team with a low morale is often extremely hard to turn around.

What is the best way to communicate with your receptionists? Hold Regular staff meetings; weekly, twice monthly or monthly.

  • Ask the staff to contribute to the agenda, make the meetings their meetings.
  • Make the meetings interesting! If they are interesting the staff will actually want to come, they will contribute and as a result they will be a success.
  • Rotate the meetings on different days and times to enable part-time staff to attend at least every other meeting.
  • It’s your chance as a manager to give the facts, to tell them as a team what is happening within the practice; it’s a great way to avoid rumours and discontent.
  • Take minutes for future reference and make copies available for those that were unable to attend. Make a copy for the partners too.
  • Ask a Partner to attend a couple of meetings a year, this shows support, and in my experience, always goes down very well with the receptionists. It also gives the Partners an insight in what is happening in reception and how hard their roles can often be.
  • Use the meeting to discuss any issues that have occurred and ask the team how they feel it could have been dealt with, often they will come up with the solution. This will help in the future as they will then start to solve problems themselves, rather than running to you every time, expecting you as the manager to have the answer. Meetings can often make the team more proactive.

Another complaint is lack of communication. Often, many of the staff will be told something but others don’t hear about it. This can lead to confusion and often anger, which can result in jobs not being done properly, as some staff have not been informed. A lot of the time this happens to staff who are on holiday or that work part-time. Memos or emails sent to every member of the team seems to work well. Having a receptionist message book works extremely well. Receptionists can leave messages that everyone can read before they begin their shift.

Communicating with your team will often highlight concerns, and often they will share good ideas,  after all they are the “experts” in their field and will often offer very productive ideas. Many of my training issues, ideas and changes came from my experiences of “walking in their shoes”

Another way of communicating with your staff is to simply show your support. Go and see what they are doing and praise them regularly. Most importantly, always remember how difficult your job as a manager would be if the receptionists did not do their job well.

 

© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved

A Patients Experience – Would you complain?


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A patients experience is such an important event be it an appointment at the Doctors Surgery, an outpatient’s appointment or a stay in hospital. Every patient should be treated with respect.

So why is it I hear of such horror stories – few I am pleased to say, but the few are few too many.

Every patient should be treated with respect. Lets face it everyone single one of us are “patients” at some time in our lives.

“Treat people as you would expect to be treated”

Sadly I heard of an experience that I certainly would not like to face let alone any member of my family. This happened to my friends mum recently in our local hospital.

My friend’s mum has recently had major surgery; she is in her 70’s and has a stoma bag as a result of her operation.

As you can imagine she is struggling in many ways to come to terms with this, getting over a major op, being away from her home and the environment that she has known for so many years and of course the fear of what lies ahead, the results from the op she is yet to be given. Her world at this moment in time has just been turned upside down.

This woman has only ever been in hospital to have her children, so operations, and hospital procedures, follow-up appointments, hospital staff and patient care is all very new to her.

My friend took her mum to outpatient’s appointments where a nurse attends to the stoma bag. They have always been treated with respect, and the care has always been good, as it should be – until the other day where they experience was far from “good”.

The nurse that dealt with my friends mum was far from gentle, hurting her as such took off the stoma bag, ignoring the patient as she winced in pain. My friend has to say something to the nurse.

My friend noticed that the nurse didn’t have any gloves on, she asked why she wasn’t wearing any and the nurse replied that she “didn’t like wearing them”

On taking off the stoma bag the nurse screwed up her face and made a comment about the smell – the patient was made to feel so embarrassed. My friend felt awful for her mum sharing her embarrassment.

The nurse stood there arching her back complaining that it was sore, and how she had been on her feet “all morning” – it was only 11.00 am.

The nurse then asked the patient what treatment she was having for her “cancer” – she looked at her daughter with panic on her face – the look asking, “have you not told me something”? The patient has not yet had the follow-up appointment with the consultant and as yet not had any results. She and her daughter are now convinced that the nurse seen something on her records.

My friend was far from happy about the treatment her mum received, but the fear of a complaint coming back at her mum while she is still receiving treatment has made her reluctant to speak to someone regarding this awful treatment.

She fears that if she complains about the attitude of this nurse that her mum might suffer because of it. She asked me what I felt she should do – I told her she had to do what she felt was right, I didn’t feel that I could put my hand on my heart and say by complaining that this wouldn’t come back on her mum – and how very sad is that.

It is important that people should have the freedom to share their concerns, and when they do that they are dealt with appropriately and in confidence and made to feel that they or their family will not be treated in any way different by doing so.

Each organisation should therefore have a good system put into place for such incidents. To have appropriate systems in place to deal with staff that have had a complaint made against them. To then follow the complaint through and if needed further training identified for member of staff concerned.

No one should ever be made to feel uneasy by speaking up – they should have the right to be heard.

 

© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved

THE BEAVER #personality test – 6/6


The 5 minute personality test is written over 6 blogs – follow from blog 1 – 6 to see who you are most like!

Following on from the personality test here are the description of:

B = BEAVERS

Beavers have a strong need to do things right and by the book. In fact, they are the kind of people who actually read instruction manuals. They are great at providing quality control in an office, and will provide quality control in any situation or field that demands accuracy such as accounting, engineering, etc. Because rules, consistency and high standards are so important to Beavers, they are often frustrated with others who do no share these same characteristics. Their strong need for maintaining high (and often times unrealistic) standards can short-circuit their ability to express warmth in a relationship.

 

National Strengths

  • Accurate
  • Analytical
  • Detail-oriented
  • Thoroughness
  • Industrious
  • Orderly
  • Methodical and exhaustive
  • High standards
  • Intuitive
  • Controlled

National Weaknesses

  • Too hard on self
  • Too critical of others
  • Perfectionist
  • Overly cautious
  • Wont make decisions without “all” the facts
  • Too picky
  • Overly sensitive

 

Basic Disposition:

Slow-paced, talk-oriented

 

Motivated by:

The desire to be right and maintain quality

 

Time Management:

Beavers tend to work slowly to make sure they are accurate

 

Communication Style:

Beavers are good listeners, communicate detail, and are usually diplomatic.

 

Decision Making:

Avoids making decisions; needs lots of information before they will make a decision.

 

In Pressure or Tense Situations:

The Beaver tries to avoid pressure or tense situations. They can ignore deadlines.

 

Greatest Needs:

The Beaver needs security, gradual change and time to adjust to it.

 

What the Beaver Desires:

Clearly defined tasks, stability security, low risk, and tasks that require precision and planning.

THE GOLDEN RETRIEVERS #personality test – 5/6


The 5 minute personality test is written over 6 blogs – follow from blog 1 – 6 to see who you are most like!

Following on from the personality test here are the description of:

 

G = GOLDEN RETRIEVERS

One word describes these people: LOYAL. They are so loyal, in fact, that they can absorb the most emotional pain and punishment in a relationship and still stay committed. They are great listeners, incredibly empathetic and warm encourages. However, they tend to be such pleasers that they can have great difficultly being assertive in a situation or relationship when it’s needed.

 

 

National Strengths

  • Patient
  • Easy-going
  • Team player
  • Stable
  • Empathetic
  • Compassionate
  • Sensitive to feelings of others
  • Tremendously loyal
  • Puts people above projects
  • Dependable
  • Reliable
  • Supportive
  • Agreeable

National Weaknesses

  • Indecisive
  • Over-accommodating
  • May sacrifice results for the sake of harmony
  • Slow to initiate
  • Avoids confrontation even when needed
  • Tends to hold grudges and remember hurts inflicted by others
  • Fears change

 

Basic Disposition:

Slow-paced, people-oriented

.

Motivated by:

Desire for good relationships and appreciation of others.

 

Time Management:

Golden Retrievers focus on the present and devote lots of time to helping others and building relationships

 

Communication Style:

Two-way communicator; great listener and provides empathetic response.

 

Decision Making:

Makes decisions more slowly, wants input from others, and often yields to the input.

 

In Pressure or Tense Situations:

The Golden Retriever gives in to the opinions, ideas, and wishes of others. Often too tolerant.

 

Greatest Needs:

The Golden Retriever needs security; gradual change and time to adjust to it; an environment free of conflict.

 

What the Golden Retrievers Desires:

Quality relationships; security; consistent known environment; a relaxed and friendly environment; freedom to work at their own pace.

THE OTTERS – #personality test – 4/6


The 5 minute personality test is written over 6 blogs – follow from blog 1 – 6 to see who you are most like!

Following on from the personality test here are the description of:

O = OTTER

Otters are excitable, fun seeking, cheerleader types who love to talk! They are great at motivating others and need to be in an environment where they can talk to have a vote on major decisions. The Otters’ outgoing nature makes them great networkers – they usually know a lot of people who know a lot of people. they can be very loving and encouraging unless under pressure, when they tend to use their verbal skills to attack. They have a strong desire to be liked and enjoy being the centre of attention. They are often very attentive to style, and clothes. Otters are the life of any party; and most people really enjoy being around them.

National Strengths

  • Enthusiastic
  • Optimistic
  • Good Communicator
  • Emotional and Passionate
  • Motivational and inspirational
  • Outgoing
  • Personal
  • Dramatic
  • Fun-loving

 

National Weaknesses

  • Unrealistic
  • Not detail-oriented
  • Disorganised
  • Impulsive
  • Listens to feelings above logic
  • Reactive
  • Can be too talkative
  • Excitable

 

Basic Disposition:

Fast paced. People-oriented.

 

Motivated by:

Recognition and approval of others

 

Time Management:

Otters focus on the future and have a tendency to rush to the next exciting thing.

 

Communication Style:

Enthusiastic and stimulating, often one-way; but can inspire and motivate others.

 

Decision Making:

Intuitive and fast. Makes a lot of “right calls” and lots of wrong ones

 

In Pressure or Tense Situations:

The Otter ATTACKS. Can be more concerned about their popularity than about achieving tangible results.

 

Greatest Needs:

The otter needs social activities and recognition; activities that are fun, and freedom from details.

 

What the Otters Desires:

Prestige, friendly relationships, opportunity to help and motivate others, and opportunities to verbally share their ideas.

THE LION #personality test result – 3/6


The 5 minute personality test is written over 6 blogs – follow from blog 1 – 6 to see who you are most like!

 

 

Following on from the personality test here are the description of:

 

L = LIONS

Lions are leaders. They are usually the bosses at work……..or at least they think they are! They are decisive, bottom line folks who are observers, not watchers or listeners. They love to solve problems. They are usually individuals who love to seek new adventures and opportunities.

Lions are very confident and self-reliant. In group setting, if no one else instantly takes charge, the Lion will. Unfortunately, if they don’t learn how to tone down their aggressiveness, their natural dominating traits can cause problems with others. Most entrepreneurs are strong lions, or at least have a lot of lion in them.

National Strengths

  • Decisive
  • Goal Oriented
  • Achievement driven
  • Gets results
  • Independent
  • Risk-taker
  • Takes initiative
  • Self-starter
  • Persistent
  • Efficient
  • Competitive
  • Enjoys challenges, variety and change
  • Driven to complete projects quickly and effectively.

National Weaknesses

  • Impatient
  • Blunt
  • Poor Listener
  • Impulsive
  • Demanding
  • May view projects more important than people
  • Can be insensitive to the feelings of others
  • May “run over” others who are slower to act or speak
  • Fears, inactivity, relaxation
  • Quickly bored by routine or mechanics

 

Basic Disposition:

Fast-paced, task oriented.

 

Motivated by:

Results; challenge, action, power and credit for achievement.

 

Time Management:

Lions focus on NOW instead of distant future. They get a lot more done in a lot less time than their peers. Hate wasting time; and like to get right to the point.

 

Communication Style:

Great at initiating communication; no good at listening (one way, communicator)

 

Decision Making:

Impulsive; makes quick decisions with goal or end results in mind. Results-focused. Needs very few facts to make a decision.

 

In Pressure or Tense Situations:

The Lion takes command and becomes autocratic.

 

Greatest Needs:

The Lion needs to see results, experience variety, and face new challenges. He needs to solve problems and wants direct answers.

 

What the Lion Desires:

Freedom, authority, variety, difficult assignments, opportunity for advancement.

What Does The Personality Test Mean – 2/6


The 5 minute personality test is written over 6 blogs – follow from blog 1 – 6 to see who you are most like!

 

Personality Test – What does it mean?

Now that you have taken the survey what does it all mean?

Each letter (L. O. G. B.) stands for a particular personality type. The column with the highest score is your dominant personality type while the column with the second highest scores reveal the most accurate picture of your natural inclinations, strengths and weaknesses, and how you will naturally respond in most situations.

The four personality types can be likened to animals

 

L   = LIONS

O = OTTERS

G  = GOLDEN RETRIEVERS

B   = BEAVERS

 

Read next blog on the complete descriptions of each one.

 

Previous blog:   The 5 Minute Personality Test (1) http://wp.me/p1zPRQ-vB

I’m Late, I’m Late for A Very Important Date


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In today busy society meetings and training sessions are an every day event for most of us.

As Managers we have meetings with the Partners, we have meetings with outside agencies we then have to have meetings with our Heads of Departments and meetings with the Reception Teams.

We sometimes have to have meetings about meetings!!!! Or it seems like it.

As well as meetings we often have to attend or facilitate training sessions.

Whatever we might be attending be it a meeting or training session it all takes up valuable time and often we might have to attend these in our own time.

So, what annoys me more than anything is bad organisation of a meeting and bad timekeeping.

If you are responsible for organising a meeting session please give some thought to the following

Agenda

  • Ensure the agenda is sent out well in advance and people attending have the opportunity of adding something to the agenda and giving them time to arrange the time to attend or sending their apologies if they cannot attend.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting

  • Ensure that everyone has been sent a copy of the minutes of the previous meeting to enable them to read before the meeting. Precious time can be lost if people have to read through the minutes of the last meeting before the meeting can actually start.

The Meeting

  • Ensure that the meeting room is set up read for the meeting to start. This includes

–       Relevant paperwork prepared

–       Room prepared as in tables and chairs set out / computers / overheads /   whiteboard / paper / stationary         

  • I have been at a meeting that should have started at 9.00 only to find that the room had to be set up – paperwork had to be photocopied and overheads set up. The actual meeting started at 9.30.
  • If you are not able to set up before the meeting on the day (ie early meeting) ensure that this is done the day before.

Start and Finish Times

  • You should always have a start and finish time for your meetings and keep to these times.
  • It is important that people know the times as they can plan around the meeting.
  • There is nothing worse than someone turning up late to a meeting or worse if the meeting is running late (due to it starting late) people start getting up and leaving as they have other commitments to attend to.
  • Out of respect you owe it to the people who do turn up on time that the meeting starts and finishes on time.

The same applies to any training session that you might be holding. The start and finish times are just every bit as important to the participant as the session itself.

I am attending a training session at the moment every Wednesday morning at the moment. The tutor on the very first session made it very plain that the sessions would start at 10.00 on the dot and not a minutes later – but also that they would finish at 12.00 on the dot. Everyone knew exactly where they stood and five weeks in not one person has turned up late – and we have all finished on time to. It is such a breath of fresh air to know that we would not be sitting around waiting on the “latecomers” arriving.  We were also asked on that very first session that our mobile phones would have to be switched off during the sessions. Everyone was happy to go along with this.

Yet another course I have recently finished was completely different – people would role in 10 minutes late, to the point one didn’t even had the decency to apologise for being late. Mobile phones would regularly ring during the session and people would go out to answer their calls.  These things disrupted the class as the tutor would then re run what she had gone through with us. This was frustrating as we would have all liked to have had a bit more time at home in the morning, but we agreed to attend the training session, fully aware of the starting and finishing times.

Resentment started setting in amongst some of the group – little digs were given about timekeeping but the tutor wasn’t strong enough to enforce the times – and by this time the sessions had been going for some weeks.

Nothing is more annoying that bad timekeeping.

So, if there are regular meetings, or a training session that might be running over a period of weeks I would suggest that you make it very clear on the very first meeting or session that time keeping is important, and you will start the meeting or the training session at the given time and you would appreciate that everyone turns up on time (of course there are always the exceptions but notice of this would be appreciated). Also that mobile phones are switched off whilst the meeting/session is running.

Always give a contact number or email address to your group in the event that they are not coming, that way you can start the session fully aware that they are not going to be there.

You certainly will find that if everyone knows this from the start and you will not abide latecomers that everyone will arrive on time.

Respect should be given to those that turn up on time.

 

© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved