The rise of Telehealth

The rise of Telehealth

The Rise of Telehealth

Covid-19 has swept through the Canadian provinces, bringing with it the recommendation to stay out of public spaces as much as possible. Medical clinics and hospitals are clocking in as some of the riskier places to visit. As a result, it seems, telehealth is finally on the rise.

Telehealth, or telemedicine, allows patients to meet with doctors and other medical personnel through secure video conference. In Canada, this has been a slow adaptation. In fact, for most physicians, the use of email or text messages is often an exception, rather than the norm. A lack of reliable infrastructure and support and unsatisfactory compensation for physicians have been the most common deterrents.

Telehealth: Forced Innovation

It didn’t take long to realize that the most effective strategy to fight the spread of the disease was to create physical distance. This left many medical professionals scrambling to find a way to help their clients from afar. Finding a system that could protect patient information and link to their electronic medical records (EMRs) was the biggest hurdle.
Many physicians and medical professionals are finding this to be time consuming and problematic. Toggling confidential patient information with their video conferencing software is less than ideal. Another draw back for many was the less than adequate pay structure for telemedicine. While there have been some recent improvements in this area, fee for service payment is still a relatively new concept and largely available within the private sector.

A current necessity

However, regardless of the pitfalls, the move to telemedicine is timely and important. Keeping people out of busy emergency rooms is paramount to keep Covid-19 at bay. This keeps potentially immunocompromised patients away from possibly infected patients with Covid-19. For many providers, this was the urgent push needed to get their telemedicine products ready for market. Jane, which offers online booking, charting, scheduling, secure video and invoicing on a secure system is one of such providers leading the cause in Canada.

Here to stay

While telehealth isn’t considered a full replacement for traditional healthcare, it may be here to stay in some facets. Certainly virtual appointments can not replace physical examinations. However, it can help to alleviate some of the demand on busy emergency rooms and walk in clinics now, while we face this global crisis, and perhaps well into the future.

If you have questions about implementing Telehealth with our services, we are happy to help!

When is an answering service right for your business?

When is an answering service right for your business?

When is an answering service right for your business?

It can be difficult for busy business owners to measure when it may be time to hire a virtual receptionist. The most obvious question is when does the benefit outweigh the cost? Luckily, there are several key indicators that can help determine the answer.

Professional Image

If your business requires the image that you’re ‘always on’ or that you have a large support system in place, missing calls can be a huge red flag for clients. As a business owner, you may not be able to answer every call that comes in. Or if you are, chances are you’ve been caught with your dog barking in the background or sounding out of breath as you run out to complete an errand. Even with a full time receptionist or support team, between sick time and vacation days, gaps will arise. If your professional image can’t afford to have missed calls, it may be time to look into receptionist support.

Business Growth Opportunities

As your productivity grows, so do your opportunities for growth. I can be overwhelming as more calls come in while you’re trying to hold everything else down. A professional answering service can alleviate the pressure of mounting inquiries, allowing you to focus on building your business. If you’ve noticed that your call volume has increased to a level you can’t keep up with, it may be time to hire a virtual receptionist.

Affordability

It may seem like a frivolous expense to hire an outside company to answer your calls. However, if you look at the cost to set up a similar service in-house, it may not seem quite as daunting of an expense. Not only will it cost much less to hire a third party, your team won’t be interrupted incessantly by the phones ringing each day, lending to higher levels of productivity! So, if you’ve been thinking about expanding your support team, it may be time to consider a third-party instead.

If any of these indicators sound familiar, it might be time to take your business to the next level by working with a virtual receptionist. If you’d like a quick demo of how Smiledog works for our clients, click here! 

 

The key elements to excellent customer service

The key elements to excellent customer service

Some say great customer service is an art. Others say it comes down to a scientific mix of character traits. We think the key elements for success lie somewhere between the two. We have put together a comprehensive list of skills, that are both developable and observational in nature. Meaning, your team can start working on these skill sets without having a natural aptitude for customer service.

Patience
For many, when they reach out to a business with an inquiry, it is from a place of confusion and sometimes frustration. Answering numerous and often repetitive client requests requires patience. Patience in dealing with clients is one thing, patience with each other and for the core of the business overall is crucial to an efficient and high-functioning organization.

Communication
This one might seem fairly obvious but you’d be surprised how easily communication styles can be misconstrued. Having consistent communication guidelines in place for your team can eliminate gaps from representative to representative. Implementing language you would like your team to use and holding regular training and role-playing will ensure that clients always receive the same level of service when they interact with your company.

Attention to Detail
Listening is one of the most important concepts behind excellent customer service. Active listening; looking for cues ‘between the lines’ will make the difference between placating a client in the moment and building a loyal client relationship for life.

Knowledge
Knowing the product or service they’re selling/supporting should be second nature for customer service experts. However, without proper training, many front-line representatives are left without the proper tools. Encorporating product and service training and ideals into your onboarding process will ensure a consistent knowledge base for your front-line team.

The power of positivity
Training your team on the power of using positive language will make a huge difference in how clients feel. Specific training on reframing statements from a negative perspective to a positive perspective will have a huge impact. If you’re not sure where to start, this positive language starter guide is a great resource.

Keeping your cool
While being completely unflappable can be difficult in heated situations, the ability to do so can turn a situation around in a hurry. While most interactions will likely remain civil, there are certain situations where keeping your cool is the ultimate solution. Clients will mirror the demeanour of their representative and often need that structure to see that the situation is solvable. The saying ‘cooler heads prevail’ should be the motto for your client service team.

Empowered Work Force
Giving your client service team the autonomy to make decisions on the fly will allow them to solve problems quickly and efficiently. This sense of empowerment will also give your team the confidence they need to handle situations with ease and professionalism. With proper training and role-playing scenarios, you should feel confident that your team can make decisions that reflect the values and goals of the company as a whole. 

Always be Closing
Your customer service team should know that their main mandate when concluding a client interaction is their satisfaction. Clients should leave the conversation feeling that their needs have been met or will be as soon as possible. Your team should verbally acknowledge that this is their mandate and confirm with the client before ending the conversation that their needs have been met.

Changing Perspective
Having empathy for client concerns can turn a situation around quickly and efficiently. The ability to think from a different perspective will allow your team to see issues from another angle, often resulting in creative solutions that work for everyone.

Time Management
Your team should understand that there is an adequate amount of time to dedicate to each issue. Sticking to those boundaries will result in more efficient conversations and a clear course of action should things veer out of scope. Finding another resource and acknowledging the inability to help is the best course of action.

If your team is struggling to reach the level of client service you’d like, we can help, reach out if you’d like more information!

 

 

 

The science behind answering the phone with a smile

The science behind answering the phone with a smile

It may sound like a gimmick, but believe it or not, answering the phone with a smile makes a difference. Not only that, there are scientific reasons to back it up. We believe in this so much at Smiledog, we named our company based on this premise. Today on the blog, we’re going to identify how it works.

Smiling affects your vocal tone

The acoustic effects of a smile’s stretched lips on speech changes the tone of your voice. In fact, when you’re auditory smiling, your tone is upbeat and friendly. Often the effect is so obvious that you may not even realize it until you’re smiling yourself in response!

This response is so powerful that we train our Smile Team to start smiling before they even answer a call. Try it, you’ll find that regardless of what you say, if you say it with a smile, it will have a positive outcome.

Moods are contagious

Moods are as contagious as the common cold. Psychologists call this phenomenon emotional contagion. It is actually a three step process where one person’s feelings and demeanor transfer to another. The first stage is called non-conscious mimicry, where you mimic the other person’s actions, often subconsciously. Second, you experience the feedback from the action, meaning if you frowned you may feel sad and conversely, if you smiled, you may feel happy. Lastly, you begin to synchronize your emotions until the nonverbal cues of those around you physically alter your own behavioural state.

When customers call in a frustrated or angry state, greeting them with an upbeat and positive tone and demeanor can change the course of the call nearly instantaneously.

Smiling actually makes you happy

Having a bad day when you work in customer service just isn’t an option! That’s not to say it doesn’t happen from time to time. Research suggests that even forced smiles can boost your mood. A smile spurs a powerful chemical reaction in the brain that can make you feel happier. We encourage our team to smile before, during and after their calls. Hopefully they’re mostly genuine, but if needed, our team knows they can quickly boost their mood by forcing a smile, in most cases, it doesn’t take long before they’re smiling for real.

There you have it, smiling is a simple, but effective, action that can improve your mood and in our case, also improve the experience that your customer receives. If you’re not convinced, give it a try and see for yourself how powerful a simple smile really is.

Can my Virtual Receptionist Handle Small Tasks & Instructions for my Business?

You might be wondering what sets Smiledog apart from its competitors. After all, we’re not the only virtual reception service out there. Smiledog really approaches its role as virtual reception provider in a “full service” way. By this we mean, we want our services to be virtually indistinguishable from the services provided by an in house receptionist. Often, you would have an in house receptionist that has other duties besides answering the phone. Our receptionists are capable of handling your small tasks and special instructions while providing our high quality virtual receptionist services.

Customized Virtual Reception Services

How we handle your calls is determined mostly by you! In other words, when we begin providing services for your business, we interview with you to learn more about your business and the nature of your phone calls. This makes it possible for us to determine the best way we can answer your calls. If you want to provide us with a script, we are happy to implement it. If you don’t have any preferences, we can suggest a professional greeting appropriate to your industry. Our real goal is find ways for you to take full advantage of the services we offer.

We Do More Than Just Answer Phones

If you are using our services for answering calls, it’s possible you might also be interested in our performing more small tasks as part of our answering services. This may be of particular interest to clients interested in full time reception options. Need us to fill out a form when a client calls, and submit the form to you? We can definitely do this! When you set up services with us, we can get these forms in place so that get the information from your callers that you need.

We Book Appointments Too!

For those businesses whose calls largely are related to setting up, rescheduling, and otherwise handling appointments, we are here to help! Our services are a great option for practitioners and business owners who don’t want to deal with the added overhead of hiring a full time receptionist for appointment setting purposes. Our Smiledog virtual receptionists can answer calls and schedule appointments using real-time web based calendaring systems. We can even reschedule appointments for the day if you are sick or have an emergency keeping you away from the office.

Have Another Need Not Mentioned?

Do you have another small task that you think our virtual receptionists could do to help streamline your business? Since our services are completely customizable, bring us your idea, and we will do everything possible to meet that need. We love to find new ways to help our clients!

Learn More About How We Can Help You!

If you’re ready to learn more about the suite of options we have for our clients, call Smiledog today! We are excited to learn more about your business, and we are certain to have some great solutions to streamline your operations.

Contact us by phone today or visit our GETTING STARTED page to learn more!

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