Can Bad Medical Customer Service Hurt Your Practice?

A medical practice that can offer the experience necessary to diagnose and treat its patients will be of obvious benefit to them, but, unless your customer service is at the same level, you may be placing your medical practice in jeopardy.

Why Is Stellar Customer Service So Important?

Stellar customer service is vital to your practice’s success. When you develop and maintain quality relationships with your patients, they’ll help elevate your reputation by recommending you to others.

However, in order to get those rave reviews, you’ll have to provide patients with a consistent experience from start to finish. When they know what to expect from their healthcare provider, patients will be more comfortable when they need to visit.

Consistent Communication Is Key

The majority of negative experiences that patients report is due to some form of miscommunication, which resulted in sufficient frustration and confusion to cause patients to seek care elsewhere.

Patient Call Handling

African american call center desk woman wearing medical mask

Although they’re only one part of the customer experience, phone interactions, specifically the initial calls to a medical practice, mean everything to a patient’s opinion of that practice.

Many patients have stated that waiting for a long time to speak to a receptionist was the first thing that lowered their satisfaction with a medical practice. That being said, the following causes of longer phone wait times should be avoided at all costs:

  • Placing patients on hold at first pick-up
  • Forcing patients to call back several times due to getting a busy signal
  • Dropping patient calls, causing them to lose their place in the queue
  • Transferring them to an answering machine

Patient call handling also extends to the ease with which they can schedule, change, or cancel appointments. There should also be a system in place to remind them of upcoming appointments.

Call Handling Impacts the Waiting Room

Groupe of medicine doctors show OK sign with thumb up

The way calls are handled also directly impacts a patient’s experience in the waiting room, which is another common complaint. Spending too much time in the waiting room before being seen by their doctor, despite having scheduled an appointment, is a great source of frustration among patients.

Here again, the lack of communication can be identified as the cause. Had the patient been informed during their initial call about what to expect in terms of wait times, they would have had the opportunity to plan for this beforehand.

This is far more desirable than the alternative, where a patient is forced to rearrange their own plans because of a lack of consistency at your medical facility.

Of course, there are circumstances that will make it impossible to keep wait times short all the time, but, in acting to prevent long wait times initially, significant reductions can be the result.

Your Receptionist’s Qualities Will Improve Customer Service

Implementing the above measures to improve patient satisfaction is vitally important. Yet, in order to be completely effective, the person who answers the phone must possess certain qualities as well.

Your receptionist is essentially the “face” of your organization—the first impression your first-time patient will get of your practice. They will form this impression within the first few seconds of speaking to your receptionist. That being said, your receptionist needs to be able to accomplish the following as quickly as possible:

  • Make your patient feel welcome.
  • Be able to empathize with their problem.
  • Demonstrate enthusiasm about and confidence in their ability to solve the patient’s problem.


Throughout the interaction, your receptionist needs to be professional. They should also possess an attitude that communicates gratefulness to have received the call and confidence that the patient will call your practice in the future.


Respect for the patient at all times is paramount where the maintenance of your reputation is the goal. The right receptionist will not only ask how they can help the patient, but then listen to the answer the patient gives.

Following this, your receptionist will need to be able to respond to the patient’s answer in a helpful and timely manner.


Another aspect of communication that can have a direct impact on a patient’s perception of your medical practice is honesty. If there will be delays that are likely to cause longer wait times, your receptionist should make the patient aware of this during their conversation.

Patient questions should always be answered honestly. Even if your receptionist is unable to provide an answer at the time, being truthful about it will have a significant impact on patient opinion.


Patients who call your practice should be able to rely on the information communicated by your receptionist. For example, if a patient gives information to your receptionist to pass along to their doctor, they shouldn’t have to worry that it won’t be safe or will fail to reach its intended recipient.

Professional Medical Answering Service for Your Practice

Although a dedicated professional can make all the difference, the cost to find, train, and hire them can be excessive. When you have access to trained, professional medical receptionists on an as-needed basis, additional costs can be eliminated and your reputation for stellar medical customer service maintained.

AnswerMTI is a nationwide leader in call answering services for medical offices. Our experienced receptionists are 100% U.S.-based, and the service can be fully customized for your office’s requirements. Call today to start your free trial!