Inquiry Management: Impress at the First Impression

happy woman in office on phoneThe home care industry is both exploding with families seeking care solutions and highly competitive with increasing numbers of agencies vying for clients. The recent pandemic has further highlighted the benefits of in-home care, leading to opportunities for additional growth for agencies.

It’s more important than ever before to ensure your agency is handling the influx of inquiry calls in the most professional and efficient manner possible. First impressions are crucial, particularly in home care, when callers are often in a state of crisis and are relying on your team to listen and guide them to the solution they desperately need. If the first impression they receive from your agency is a disinterested, overburdened, or otherwise negative one, it’s likely they’ll move on to one of the many other choices on their list.

So how effective is your home care inquiry management process? Perform a quick assessment by asking yourself these questions:

  • Who is answering calls? Does your agency have a designated intake representative/s who has received proper (and ongoing) training? Or, are answering calls a team effort, in which anyone who is available will take a call?
  • How are calls being answered? Do your staff use a professional greeting? Is the tone positive and upbeat? Who is in control of the flow of the conversation? Are callers being rushed through the call as quickly as possible?
  • Are you really listening? Does the person who takes calls listen for clues about the types of support needed? Or is the person reading from a script, giving a canned response to each caller? Active listening is a vital component of a positive inquiry experience, and it’s something all employees who may potentially answer the phone should master.
  • Do you come across as an expert? Whether you have a designated intake person answering calls or not, each member of your staff should be trained to answer questions about your agency and the services you provide. Callers are seeking experts to help them overcome their challenges. Make sure your staff are fully equipped to truly serve as home care experts.
  • What is your process for following up? The inquiry does not end when you hang up the phone. Help the family make an informed decision by sending additional information and offering to answer questions.  Do you have a well-written, visually appealing sales flyer to send by email?  Even if the family chooses a competitor, you can earn yourself a new client with proper follow-up, and important component of inquiry management.

One great way to assess the effectiveness of your agency’s inquiry management process is through professional mystery shopping services to unobjectively gauge your intake staff’s strengths and weaknesses. Here’s how mystery shopping typically works:

  • A list of specific questions is developed to ensure the information being captured is relevant to what you want to assess.
  • Multiple calls are made by different mystery shoppers, both during regular business hours and after hours. Each call is evaluated on a number of qualities: warmth, friendliness, industry knowledge, follow-up, etc.
  • This information is then analyzed and provided to you in a report that outlines trends, strengths, weaknesses, recommendations, and in some cases, may even uncover deficits that are severe and urgent.

There are many benefits to listening to how inquiries are handled naturally within an organization and there are options to accomplish this.  Call listening services, such as CallRail, can be an effective supplement or alternative to mystery shopping.  A call listening service enables an organization to listen to calls themselves to evaluate and identify training opportunities that may exist.  In addition, a call listening service can also help identify which marketing efforts are generating calls, such as search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC), Google My Business, etc.

An efficient, effective inquiry management process is as important to your agency’s growth as the exceptional care you provide. With so many home care agencies from which to choose, those in need of care will select the one that helps them feel listened to, cared about, and confident in an agency’s ability to meet their needs. A home care marketing partner can help ensure that each person who reaches out to your agency is met with the kindness, compassion, and skill needed to address their concerns and guide them to the resolution they need.

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