As patients are shopping around more for their medical needs, their satisfaction is more important than ever. Return visits mean increased revenue, and they’re likely to recommend a medical facility to friends if they come away satisfied. But when accounts receivable representatives call about payments, there’s a special balance that has to be struck. How can reps get their jobs done without creating tension between the patient and the medical facility?
Avoiding Sympathy, Using Empathy
Sympathy and empathy are often confused. In short, sympathy means you feel sorry for someone; empathy means you feel what they’re feeling. In most cases, patients want the person on the other end of the line to understand what they’re going through.
In some cases, the representative may not be able to empathize with the patient—they may have no idea what it feels like to be in their position. In cases like these, it’s important to simply try to understand. Focus on meeting the patient where they are, and moving them in the direction you need them to be.
Lending an Ear
Elderly patients often take the longest time on the phone. This is for a number of reasons, but specifically, they may need additional help understanding their responsibilities and how to pay.
In general, older patients may not have the people around them they once did: friends and spouses may have passed on, family may have moved far away. So when they have the captive attention of someone on the phone, they enjoy simply talking to someone. In cases like these, the job of the representative is to lend that ear to the patient while moving them forward. It may take longer than the call center’s target time, but it will leave the patient feeling as though they have a friend—and that bond can strengthen the relationship with the patient, and in turn get them to pay on time.
Friendly, Precise Language
Most importantly, it’s just a matter of the language the representative uses. Friendliness is the first step, but conveying the importance of making payments on time makes a big difference in the patient’s actions. Ultimately, it’s a matter of trust. The patient has to trust the representative. This means the representative must build rapport, and then do what he or she can to help the patient create the best situation that will serve the needs of both the medical facility and the patient.