The benefits of an automated virtual receptionist versus a call center live agent

December 5th, 2008

Call center is one of the most frequently heard complaints by small business owners or medical practices these days. And one of the most frequently heard complaints about call centers is that you can never make yourself understood.

Whether the company you are trying to reach has made call center outsourcing to Scotland, or Mexico, or Bangalore, having a simple conversation such as making, checking or cancelling an appointment can sometimes become a real hard task. This is no reflection on the person on the other end of the telephone, as doubtless anyone would have the same problem if they worked for a foreign company whose customers were based abroad.

Even if the call center is based on home soil, there is the potential obstacle of regional dialects and accents confusing both caller and operator, or human factors such as the receptionist having a cold, or a sore throat that may make them less intelligible.

However, the fact remains that in the current financial climate, a centralised medical answering service is a viable and sensible way to save your practice money. So why not cut out the risk of your patients not being able to make themselves understood through an automated virtual receptionist?

A virtual medical receptionist uses Interactive Voice Response (IVR) software to speak to patients naturally, in their own language, and in a neutral accent. If you have used IVR in the past, you should know that speech-recognition technology has come a long way in the last few years in terms of the quality of IVR based self-service systems.

But perhaps one of the greatest advantages of a remote receptionist service is that it has back-up options.

If your patient calls a live agent call center and struggles to make themselves understood, they have little option but to get frustrated with the situation, slam the phone down and hope that when they try again – if indeed they do ever call again – they reach a different agent who might understand them better.

There is no such problem with a virtual receptionist, as they have a process to go through in the unlikely situation that your patient cannot make themselves understood.

On the rare occasion that the IVR software fails to communicate with a caller, perhaps when their medical complaint prevents them from speaking or hearing clearly, a virtual receptionist will firstly re-prompt the question and ask the caller to try and answer the question again.

If this fails, it will give the caller the option of entering the answer via the telephone keypad – something which in nearly all cases will solve the problem.

However, if for some reason they can still not get their message across, the patient will be immediately connected to a live staff person immediately.

There is even a backup to the backup.

Every call that is made to a virtual receptionist is detailed and recorded on the instant call log.

This log files all the details provided (name, phone number, time of and reason for call (i.e. emergency, appointment or voice-mail). Therefore if a patient is unable to be connected to live staff, someone can always call them back to resolve the situation.

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