We all work in customer service. Patients (customers) are too hard to come by and good reputations too diligently won to take customer service lightly, so ignore this truth at your peril. At The Billing Pros we work hard to provide great service to our providers and their patients. Still, situations arise where patients or their representatives need our help in resolving various insurance billing or account issues. Usually, callers are reasonable, calm, and helpful. Sometimes they are not. Either way, it"s our job to provide assistance and help bring the matter to a happy conclusion.
- Start with a pleasant greeting. "Good morning, this is the ABC Medical Clinic business office. My name is Mary. How can I assist you today?"
- Anticipate the issues. A musician friend of mine likes to say, "Rehearsal makes spontaneity possible." Patient complaints will generally fall into one of a few overall categories, so plan in advance how you will solve expected problems and respond appropriately. Having a strategy to resolve issues common to all medical business offices will make responding to the occasional unexpected complaint that much easier.
- Up your EQ. Build rapport by using strong words and phrases. Ask meaningful questions. Use disarming, positive language to relieve tension and dispel negative emotions. Practice phases like the ones below until they sound conversational.
a. "That makes sense."
b. "Here's what I'm going to do."
c. "Here's what you can expect."
d. "I can see why you would feel that way."
e. "In order to solve this problem..."
f. "Tell me more."
g. "What I will do for you right away is..."
h. "I'm very sorry to hear that, Mrs. Brown."
i. "Thank you so much for calling and letting us know about this."
j. "Oh dear!"
- Restate the problem. In your own words, restate the problem in order to demonstrate to the patient she has been heard. "So, if I understand you correctly, the insurance we had for you on file had changed, and although you provide new insurance information at the time of your appointment, we somehow billed your claim under the expired insurance. Is that right?"
- Take ownership of the problem. Never, never, never, never, never say, "It's not my fault." That is the absolute last thing the caller wants to hear. Instead, communicate how you are taking responsibility to resolve the matter. Resist the temptation to throw someone else under the bus by passing blame. Ignore who is at fault and solve the problem.
- Provide a sense of immediacy. Peace of mind comes from knowing someone who can do something about the situation is taking action now.
a. "Let's see what we can do to fix this."
b. "I will look into this right away."
c. "I can see where the problem is."
d. "What I'm doing for you now is..." (as the caller hears you typing)
e. "That's now been done."
f. "I'm going to talk with (my supervisor, the front office, etc.) this afternoon and see if we can move this forward."
- Replace "but" with "and," "so," or a "." Instead of, "I understand it is important for you to understand your mother's medical bill, but, HIPAA laws prevent me from giving you that information," try, "I understand it is important for you to understand your mother's medical bill, so to get you that information I need to first ask you a few questions."
- Confront profanity with professionalism.
a. "Sir, my job is to help resolve this issue, so I hope you understand we cannot tolerate the kind of language you are using right now."
b. "You seem very upset, Mr. Brown. Would you prefer to continue this conversation through email?"
c. "I apologize, Mr. Brown, but if you continue to use this language, I will be forced to end the call and request you call another time."
- Follow through. Do what you said you would do. If for some reason you can't keep your promise, call the patient and tell them what alternative steps were taken to best resolve the issue.