Role Of Front Desk In Hearing Clinics


The Role of the Front Office in Maximizing Patient Retention

The front office staff plays a pivotal role in providing a Best Care Experience for every patient. This blog explains how your front office team can increase patient retention, enhance the patient journey, and improve patient interactions to maximize customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention.

In a hurry? Here's a brief summary.

  • Providing exceptional patient care starts by creating the best possible first impression, which is why front desk staff is crucial.
  • Front office employees also play a crucial role in turning patients into returning patients
  • Many feel anxious when they arrive at a hearing clinic for the first time, your front office team has the ability to make them feel at ease 
  • Overall, your front desk team has a huge role in patient satisfaction and retention 

Your front office employees can dramatically influence patients’ overall experience at your hearing clinic. When your front office employees are kind, friendly, compassionate, and professional, patients are likely to have a positive experience at your hearing practice – and are more likely to return and recommend your clinic to others. And, of course, the opposite is also true. If your front office team is rude or dismissive, patients – especially new patients – are more likely to be dissatisfied with your audiology practice overall. 

To provide a best care experience throughout each patient’s entire journey, your staff should start by providing exceptional care from the beginning. Since most patients’ journeys begin by interacting with your clinic’s front office staff, these employees play an essential role in the patient experience.  

Make a Good First Impression 

Audiology Making Good First Impression Front Office

Whether patients are calling to make an appointment or coming into your hearing practice after booking an appointment online, their first in-person interaction with your employees should be positive and welcoming! The employees at the front desk should greet each patient warmly, and should be friendly, professional, helpful, and courteous from that initial touchpoint. 

The receptionist should immediately welcome each patient, ask for their name, and sort out any paperwork that needs to be completed. (Ideally, any registration forms and/or patient records should have been completed online before the patient even arrives onsite.)  Your clinic should be using Practice Management Software (PMS) to optimize operations, maximize efficiency, and streamline scheduling, ensuring there’s minimal wait time between each patient’s arrival and when they see the hearing care provider for their appointment. 

Front-office employees play a critical role in turning new patients into returning patients. Retention is important, especially when you consider that it can cost as much as $300-800 per patient to obtain a new lead. 

The patient experience is impacted by the entire hearing clinic team, not just the audiologist, so everyone in the practice should go “above and beyond” for the patients during each phase of the patient journey.  Every patient interaction with the front office staff should be extraordinary, starting from the time the patients call the front desk or walk through the front door. 

Create a Warm, Welcoming Environment 

Warm And Welcome Environment Audiology Clinic

Recognize that patients may feel anxious or uncomfortable when they arrive at your hearing clinic, so it’s important for your front office team to do everything they can to put patients at ease.  And that starts by creating a comfortable environment from the moment the patient steps into the clinic. 

The waiting area should be clean and inviting, with comfortable places to sit.  The receptionists should immediately acknowledge each patient’s arrival, smile and make eye contact, then offer to check them in and get them settled. The front office staff should be trained to communicate effectively with individuals with hearing loss.  

The receptionist should show patients where they can hang their coats, where the restrooms are, and where they can help themselves to refreshments, like coffee or water. They should also indicate where patients and their loved ones can find reading materials, such as newspapers and magazines to enjoy while they wai.

Your front office staff should maintain the waiting area, keeping it clean and organized. Part of their responsibility should be to continually monitor the area and throw away coffee cups and other trash, and straighten up the magazines and newspapers. Patients that come in midday should experience a fresh, clean reception area, just like the first patients of the day. 

Provide a Pleasant End to The Visit 

Provide A Pleasant End To The Visit

The front office employees are also each patient’s last point of contact after their hearing exams, and should ensure that the last touchpoint is as pleasant and stress-free as possible.  The receptionist should ask if everything went well, and perhaps compliment the patient’s new hearing aids.

At the end of each visit (or phone call), the front desk staff should book the next appointment, as necessary, ask patients if they need additional assistance, thank them, reiterate how much the practice appreciates them, and say a warm goodbye.  

As the clinic’s staff builds relationships with the patients, the receptionist should reference notes in the patient records section of the PMS to mention things like the patient’s family, hobbies, recent trips, or other items of note. Building a rapport with patients over time – and remembering details about their grandson’s passion for soccer or their love of knitting or golf – can help patients feel valued and appreciated.

These seemingly small details can have a huge impact on patient satisfaction and retention, and help contribute to the Best Care Experience that you’re working to provide every day, with every patient. 

Auditdata Manage

Use Notes In Manage To Build a Rapport With Patients

In Manage, under a patient's tab you find Notes, where you include information related to accessibility, details about hearing aid consumables, or if a patient requires additional time. This section can be edited and removed as needed. 

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Notes Section Manage

How to Improve The Front Office Experience 

Front Office

You recognize that the front office staff – and environment – play a pivotal role in the patient experience. Now, learn how to increase patient retention, enhance the patient journey, and improve interactions with your own front-office team by implementing these nine tips: 

1. Train Your Receptionist

Your hearing clinic has spent significant money to hire specially trained audiologists, invest in the most technologically advanced audiology equipment, market your business, and work diligently to generate leads just to get the phone to ring in the first place! So, when people call, you want to be sure the person answering the telephone is not only polite and professional, but is also experienced and properly trained to answer their audiology-specific questions.

It’s inevitable that your receptionist and front office staff members will get bombarded with questions – both on the phone and in person – so it’s essential to provide them with appropriate answers and messaging for common inquiries. For instance, when patients or prospects ask how much hearing aids cost, the answer is complicated and depends on numerous factors. Therefore, it’s impossible for someone at the front desk to answer that question.

Ideally, your front office staff can use Practice Management Software (PMS), which has customizable workflows that you can set up to walk the receptionist through a series of steps, in the correct order, so nothing is missed or forgotten in the administrative sequence of events. That way, even if a patient or prospect has many questions that could take a conversation off-track, the receptionist will stay the course and be sure to follow the proper workflow, scheduling appointments correctly. 

Guided Workflows in Manage

2. Automate Front Office Tasks

If audiology practices are still using manual processes, their front office employees are spending excessive time booking and confirming appointments. Handling these tasks manually is tedious, time-consuming, error-prone, and inefficient. Additionally, it can be quite frustrating for patients, who often must wait by the front desk to be greeted and helped by your employees, who are wasting significant time on manual processes. If your clinic hasn’t already transitioned to comprehensive, fully-featured Practice Management Software (PMS), it’s time to make that switch!

A PMS will make your employees’ lives so much easier, allowing them to streamline scheduling, automate appointment reminders, and spend more time providing Best Care Experiences to your patients. Additionally, when you enable online booking, you can reduce no-shows and easily fill open appointment slots from last-minute cancellations. 

Watch the video below and see how to book an appointment in our PMS, Manage. 

3. Hire Professional, Polite Front Office Employees

Your clinic’s receptionist is more than just a person answering a phone.The way your receptionist answers these questions contributes directly to patient retention, which represents an astonishing 50-70% of audiology practice revenues.

The other 30-50% of incoming phone calls to an audiology practice are typically new or potential patients, which are absolutely essential for the continued growth of a practice. This illustrates how important it is that the person answering the phone be professional, polite, well-trained, knowledgeable, and comfortable with your practice’s systems, processes, scheduling, and key messages. 

4. Emphasize The Importance Of Accuracy And Responsibility

Your front office staff should always get complete and accurate information from patients, both on the phone and in person. Any inaccuracies can cause errors in patients’ records and complicate billing and reimbursement.

Even “small mistakes” can delay reimbursement for months, which could anger patients and decrease their confidence in your staff (and your practice). It’s also critical that your administrative employees are careful and accurate when scheduling (or rescheduling) and relaying appointment times to patients, to ensure that patients show up on the right day and time, at the correct clinic location. 

5. Encourage Loved Ones To Join Patients At Appointments

Did you know that converting a lead into a new patient can improve by 40% if the patient is accompanied by a spouse or significant other during the initial hearing consultation? Therefore, when booking appointments, receptionists should encourage patients to bring their spouse, partner, or other loved one along to the hearing clinic.

Also, patients are far more likely to purchase hearing aids if their spouse or partner has accompanied them to the hearing clinic, with only 25% buying a hearing aid without a companion present but 80% purchasing the devices when their spouse or significant other joined the appointment. That’s a huge increase! If you think about it, most people wouldn’t make a significant purchase without consulting their spouse or partner first.

So, if a patient comes to your hearing clinic alone, they’ll want to go home and discuss the purchase with their loved one, which could delay their hearing aid purchase indefinitely. However, if the patient brings their spouse or partner to the appointment, they’re much more likely to make an immediate decision to buy a hearing aid on the spot.  Therefore, the front office staff should encourage patients to bring their loved ones to their appointments to help increase your hearing aid sales and conversion rates.   

Watch the video below and learn how to use our Practice Management Software, Manage, to set up alternate contacts. 

6. Leverage Your Front Office Employees’ Special Skills

Here’s the conundrum in many hearing clinics: you want your audiologists to concentrate on providing clinical care, so you delegate more tasks to your administrative staff. But you don’t want to overwhelm your administrative team with too much work because they’re busy handling important responsibilities like scheduling, billing, confirming appointments, greeting patients, etc. So, what should you do? One helpful tip is to leverage your employees’ special skills, interests, and superpowers, allowing them to do what they like – and what your clinic needs.

For instance, if one of your front office employees is amazing with social media, put them in charge of managing your clinic’s social media platforms. If your receptionist loves to decorate, ask them to spearhead the holiday and seasonal décor to keep your clinic looking festive all throughout the year. If another admin employee does photography as a hobby, ask them to update the staff headshots for the website, and take photos of your audiologists at community events for your social media posts. Delegating tasks based on employees’ interests allows them to do things they love, which increases their job satisfaction.

Auditdata Manage

Optimize Your Clinic with Auditdata's Guided Workflows 

Streamline clinical operations with one-click access to all functions, making it easy for your staff to navigate through the different steps across the entire platform. Standardize appointments for optimal outcomes, while customizing workflows to match your practice needs. 

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Streamline clinical operations with one-click access and standardized workflows, delivering consistent, high-quality care to your patients every time.

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Advanced resource scheduling capabilities optimize your resources, reduce no-shows and lost revenue, and make data-driven decisions to improve patient outcomes.

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Patient Management

Fast and efficient patient management system streamlines administrative tasks, allowing you to focus on providing the best care possible to your patients.

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Patient Engagement and Notifications

Utilize our notification feature to create appointment reminders, recalls, and follow-ups, increasing show-up rates and ensuring patients are reminded of important events.

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Enhance lead management, boost patient conversions, and enhance engagement with our intuitive lead screen and open API capabilities that enable you to integrate with your existing marketing systems.

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Clinical Activities and Data

Noah integration delivers valuable insights to drive informed business decisions and provides care and access measurement and fitting software online or offline.

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Optimize your billing and invoicing process, and reduce the time required to generate invoices, making it easier to track billing information. 

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Easily manage inventory and stock with a comprehensive system including product catalog, supplier management, battery and service management, and more.

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Documentation and Audit Trail

Auditdata’s software includes an audit trail, ensuring full accountability and transparency around all changes made to your clinic’s records. 

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Security & Configuration

Our software is hosted on Microsoft Azure, and we are ISO certified, adhere to the highest global safety standards, and offer superior security features.

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Auditdata Manage's integrations with best-in-class systems and there is an Open API that allows for easy sharing of information, streamlined workflows, and improved quality of care in audiology.

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