Communication is key with massage therapy patients.
New research is starting to show that in some cases, it may even be more important than the actual treatment.
But what about in the aspects of being a Massage Therapist outside of the treatment room?
Can the way we communicate on the phone, or even when re-booking make a difference?
It’s a skill that needs to be developed and can be the difference in not only hiring practices, but also the reputation of your clinic.
Develop The Habit of Providing “World-Class” Communication
Ok, you’ve worked your proverbial butt off to become a medical practitioner, you’ve invested time, money, blood, sweat and tears (no not the amazing 70’s music group), you dress for success and your patients love you!
You strive to ad value and content to your patients lives and you are passionate about helping someone in pain have better quality of life.
The phone is ringing off the hook and you need to hire front-end staff and a receptionist.
Vitally aware that on average, front end staff can make up 65% of your outgoing costs after paying wages, income tax, benefits etc… how are you going to afford that?
You want to hire the best, but recognize their expected income is wayyy outside your financial comfort zone. Or it might be the case that you are cheap as chips!
Let’s think that you are the first example.
A friend of mine owns and operates his own medical clinic.
He hired therapists who are the best of the best, not hiring when he needed to make rent because the wrong people presented themselves, and in the end he has an amazing team around him… except for his front-end staff.
Don’t get me wrong, they are nice people, but they are not trained specifically for that position.
Lots of businesses hire well meaning people/staff based on the assumption that common sense will prevail and although they have no formal training in being the front line impression of the clinic, they are generally nice and this should come out over the phone or when in person.
The problem is, this rarely happens.
People have good intentions, but when stress levels increase as the business increases, people handle themselves with the attitudes and homegrown habits they already have. This may show as someone becoming a little short or curt over the phone, becoming less helpful to those requiring more assistance, becoming intolerant of uninformed potential patients and so on.
Not quite what we are going for in representing your “World Class” clinic.
So what do you do when you start receiving comments from your patients saying that they love you, but hate dealing with your front end staff?
They would rather book an appointment online or through you rather than through your front end staff.
Constant Reflection To Improve Your Massage Therapy Clinic
Remember that people emulate those that they look up to or perceive as being a leader.
How do you handle yourself in stressful situations, on the phone, in person with your patients?
Is it possible that your staff is mirroring you?
Do you see yourself in the way they communicate with your patients?
It happens more often than you think. Maybe you need to develop or change some of your own habits first before asking someone to change or implement new habits themselves.
Rather than taking the time to role-play how your receptionist should communicate with patients, you must initiate the formation and implementation of good communication habits.
Remember, habits are more easily formed when there is a strong belief they are beneficial and positively impact you or someone’s life.
You must communicate to your staff your passions, your beliefs, and your purpose for helping people. More importantly, you must show this in everything you do.
Remember those mirroring neurons?
Remember that a leader lifts people up with him/her rather than pushing and prodding. Be the leader that pulls the best out of your staff, by encouraging them to perform to their highest potential.
It only creates an environment of success, caring and professionalism.
Changing Massage Therapy Communication Habits
You need to determine specific scripts for what you want to be said when different scenarios present themselves.
First, think about the kind of experience you want when contacting a business. How do you like to be treated? Remember, you want to be known for providing “World Class” service right?
Sure you might think you are communicating appropriately, but have you actually listened to yourself as you communicate with someone?
Reflect on how you want your staff to communicate.
What do you want them to say? How do you want them to say it? What kinds of scenarios will your staff be in and what different ways of communicating do you want them to utilize in these scenarios? Think of questions you ask when you contact a healthcare professional.
What do you want said every time for each of the following?
Sit down and quietly write out the clinics introductory speech for phone calls, basically how do you want the phones initially answered?
- What do you want said when a new patient calls wanting information on your services?
- What do you want said when they are interested in booking an appointment?
- What do you want said when talking to returning patients over the phone?
- What do you want said when a lawyer calls looking for information for a patient?
- What do you want said when an insurance agent calls looking for reasons to provide coverage for a specific treatment?
- What do you want said when a patient calls in to complain or inform you that they are in more discomfort after your treatment?
- What do you want said when a patient has to cancel an appointment either within or outside your cancellation policy?
- What do you want said when contacting your cancellation list to offer appointment times to them?
- How do you describe your rates, your hours of operation, your location?
- What do you say when returning a phone call and have to leave a message?
Once written, you need to test them out on your existing patients.
Ask them what they like to have said to them when contacting a business. Fine-tune your scripts. Your patients want you to succeed and to represent professionalism just as much as you do.
Show your patients you care about their experience and the experience of those potential new patients they refer to you.
Once you’ve got the scripts perfected, print each one out on their own individual pieces or paper.
Give them to ALL your staff, including those who rarely answer the phones. Everyone has to be on the same page as what is expected to be communicated and how.
Next take these papers and post them right in front of the receptionist. It’s easier to refer to them rather than try to remember exactly what to say.
Remember that forming or changing habits takes time. Research estimates that it takes a minimum of almost a month and a maximum of almost 2yrs to solidify a habit. Putting in this small amount of effort will have a dramatically positive effect on your practice.
As your staff get used to saying the same scripts over and over, it slowly becomes committed to memory and before you know it, it just becomes a habit of effective “World-Class” communication!
Communicating Massage Treatment Information
Concerning specific treatment and expected outcomes, you know your staff is not expected to know the detail you do, but you can create scripts to provide general information.
When writing these scripts out, be as succinct as possible, limiting the info to just 2-3 sentences/modality. Your staff and the patient on the other end of the phone won’t remember more than that.
Make your list of techniques/treatments you provide.
In your first sentence, describe the technique.
In your second sentence describe why it can be used.
In your third and final sentence describe what the potential outcome expected.
Remember to keep communication clear, simple and succinct. Developing the Habit of “World-Class” communication doesn’t happen overnight.
It takes self-reflection, thought, dedication, belief and time.
He is recognized as a national instructor across Canada instructing Ligamentous Articular Strain Technique. He has a passion for inspiring manual therapists to perform to their highest ability and to providing high quality educational programs to the profession.
From 2001–2008 Robert instructed Orthopedics and Neurological Examination departments at the West Coast College of Massage Therapy (WCCMT).
Robert can be contacted at www.lastsite.ca
Latest posts by Robert Libbey (see all)
- 5 Habits To Start Your Work Week! – February 13, 2017
- “World-Class” Communication In Your Massage Therapy Clinic – May 23, 2016
- How Massage Therapists Can Treat The Thorax Part 2 – October 6, 2015