Some Ideas on Handling “Shoppers”

We deliver practice management consulting and training for doctors/practice owners and their staff. We have found that doctors receive very little if any business or practice management training in their professional schooling, but upon graduation and purchasing or starting a practice, they are expected to effectively run a small business. That’s not an easy proposition when you have little to no training in the field. That’s where Silkin Management Group comes in – we provide that missing education through our training and consulting programs.

One of the areas that clients new to Silkin Management Group need help with is how their receptionist should handle “shoppers” – that is to say a person who is calling in for prices. How do you handle such a person and schedule them for an appointment? Below are some tips on this subject for anyone reading this article, whether a Silkin Management Group client or not.

The first thing to know about the shopper is that they are normally fairly ignorant about the service they are pricing. They are calling for a price because that is the only thing they know to compare about the service. They normally don’t really have a full understanding of the service itself.

The second thing to have in mind is that the shopper always wants effective, honest service from someone who understands their needs and meets them. In other words, what the shopper is most basically interested in is finding somebody who is truly interested in them and providing them with good service. Price is normally a secondary consideration to good, effective health care service but, as noted above, the easiest thing to find out about regarding the service. Thus it’s often the first thing they’ll ask about.

Therefore, when handling a shopper, you don’t want to just throw prices at them, rather you want to show genuine interest in them. You do this by asking questions to find out about their situation and needs so that you can then educate them more realistically about your service.

By asking questions you are building rapport with that individual. Use your communication skills to find out what that person’s reality is on the service and build affinity with the person and the person towards you. All of this will create a greater understanding and rapport with the person. So first smoothly avoid directly answering their question and turn it around to asking the person questions about herself or himself and the situation they are trying to resolve. This requires good communication skills and some ideas on questions to ask.

In a future Silkin Management Group blog we’ll offer up some ideas on this subject as well as questions that a receptionist might ask when she/he encounters a shopper.

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