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Joy Hicks

Term of the Week: Telephone Etiquette

By May 12, 2011

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Photo courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Does your receptionist have excellent telephone etiquette? It is important for your medical office staff to consistently offer a polite, consistent phone manner. When a patient calls in, the way in which the front desk personnel handle the telephone call determines how your facility is perceived. Here are a few basic tips you can offer your medical office staff to improve telephone etiquette.

  1. Be an active listener
    • Focus on the speaker
    • Act interested
    • Try not to interrupt
    • Be aware of your non-verbal communications
    • Avoid talking to anyone else
    • Keep your mind on the issue being discussed
  2. Have good phone manners
    • Answer quickly, at least by the third ring
    • Answer with your name and a friendly greeting
    • Smile, the caller can hear your smile through the phone
    • Speak slowly and clearly
    • Never chew food, gum or drink anything while on the phone
    • Ask permission before placing a caller on hold
  3. Maintain Confidentiality
    • Be cautious about the information given over the phone
    • Ask the patient to give their social security number to identify themselves
    • Keep in mind that other patients may be able to hear your conversation
    • If the caller is not the patient, never discuss personal information without permission
  4. Things to Consider
    • Always thank them for calling
    • Never hang up first
    • When taking messages, get as much information as possible
    • Stay calm and polite, even when a patient is rude to you


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