We asked Kirsty from The Light Touch Clinic about how our services have benefited the practice.

How long have you been using AR for overflow and out of hours support?

We have been using AR for two and a half years now.

How flexible do you find this service?

It works really well for us in that we choose which calls go through to AR and which are dealt with by the in-house clinic team. Our phone system is set up so that during the day, the call will come through to the clinic first and only go through to AR if we don't answer. This helps us to give great customer service to the patient standing in front of us, without losing a potential sale over the phone. In the evenings, or when the receptionist might need to pop out for half an hour, we divert the phones directly to AR so they are answered straight away.

Practitioners who enquire with us are often concerned about how AR will understand their practice and their clients – what has your experience been with this?

This was a huge concern for me when we first started using AR. How could someone else possibly understand the intricate balancing act that is our diary? Before AR begin taking calls for the clinic, they ask you to fill out a comprehensive spreadsheet containing all the information about your practitioners and treatments that they could possibly ever be asked. This was actually a great exercise for us as well, as we were encouraged to think about how we deal with enquiries over the phone and if there is any improvements we could make ourselves. After this point, it's simply a case of working closely with AR to ensure everything is dealt with how you would like. I've only ever had to say something once and I know that our clinic information is updated for all of the AR team to see. This means that our patients are getting consistent information, whomever they speak with.

How would you describe your relationship with the AR team?

I think that it's really important to have a good relationship with the AR team. I need to do my part in keeping them updated with the latest details, but in turn I also want to be approachable should any of the team have a question. Every now and again I will get a phone call asking me how I might book a particular patient in, or what I would recommend doing in a certain circumstance. Although we have been working together for several years now, you do get the occasional question that we won't have given AR an answer for and although the team generally have a pretty good idea of the answer I end up giving them, it's great that they confirm with us first.

How do you find AR respond to your queries and needs?

We previously used an answering service who just took messages and we had to ring the patients back. I love that AR can book appointments, answer queries and take payments, as this helps to alleviate the pressure on our reception team. They also make outbound calls as needed, so if a patient calls on a weekend and we aren't able to give them a ring, then I know that we can provide AR with the information and they will make that call for us. They are so much more than just an answering service!

Do you believe having AR's support in place has benefitted your practice growth?

In the time that we have been working with AR, we have seen a rapid growth in the business which has led to us moving to larger premises. Without a doubt, we could not run our clinic as successfully without the support that AR provide us with.

Are you confident that having AR's support enables you to make the most of every new enquiry?

When calls come into the clinic, there is often a patient standing in front of you, or something going on that distracts you and it's difficult to give the potential new client on the phone your full attention. With AR being based out of the clinic, I know that they have got ample time to deal with these enquiries and I am confident in their ability to convert the call to a booking.

How does the call transfer work from Light Touch to AR?

During the day all phone calls come into the Clinic and if unanswered within 6 rings, it bounces through to the AR team. Overnight or during busy periods or lunch breaks, we can divert the calls straight through to AR where they are picked up within 2-3 rings.

How do you feel having the overflow and out of hours service in place benefits your existing clients, and do you think this service helps with client retention?

We are a busy clinic and it's important that our patients get through to someone each and every time they call. We had to install additional phone lines last year as we were receiving complaints that our phones were continually engaged and this was really frustrating people as they had to call back at a later time. There are also times when it's just not possible for someone in the clinic to answer the phone, but I can be confident that we aren't going to lose that patient or new enquiry, as the AR team will swiftly pick it up.

Do your clients know you use an outsourced support service or do they believe they are speaking to internal staff members?

Only our regulars know that they haven't got through to the clinic, as they prefer to speak to certain members of the reception team. Most other patients however don't have a clue and some are confused when they turn up and Gina or Hannah aren't actually here! We see that as a good thing though and are always told how lovely the girls are on the phone.

Is AR's support an effective solution to your staffing requirements both in terms of:

Cost

Our AR invoices are not the cheapest, but if you think of it as we are getting 5 call handlers for less than the price of one full time member of staff each month, then I think it's absolutely worth it.

Expertise

We very rarely get any queries through from the AR team in regards to the treatments that we offer, as I know they are confident in answering any initial enquiries - particularly for the more common treatments such as Botox and Dermal Fillers. They genuinely know as much as our receptionists.

How efficiently do AR manage your diary?

AR very efficiently manage our diary. Our practitioners do chop and change their hours sometimes, but we make this clear on each day of our diary so that not only the AR team but also our staff understand who is working what. If there a space, they will book someone in, or if there is either no or a questionable space and a particular insistent patient on the phone, they will give me a call to confirm what, if anything can be done.

How does having AR support make a difference to your role Kirsty?

AR have made a huge difference to my role in the pressure they take off. I'm the Practice Manager, but I'm often needed to help out on reception and when my backlog of work builds up too much, it's a relief to know that I can bounce our calls to AR and know that everything is going to run smoothly. They also know to give me a text on a Saturday night if they've had a concerned patient on the phone, so that we can deal with any issues quickly and effectively rather than leave everything until the Monday morning.

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