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Silent Night: Can my answering service handle calls from non-verbal callers?

A good answering service should be able to take calls from people who are unable to speak and help them as they would any other caller.

Image of a non-verbal girl holding a finger to her lips

Some medical and hospice care facilities help patients that are considered “non-verbal.” A non-verbal patient is one that can understand spoken language but cannot speak back. There are different levels of non-verbal status. Some patients can provide a noise or guttural response when asked a question. Others cannot speak at all and cannot respond with any form of sound whatsoever.

So what do you do if you need to provide medical or hospice care to these callers? Can you hire a professional medical answering service to respond appropriately? The answer is yes. There are several things you must do to ensure your non-verbal patients are properly served.

Hire a Professional Medical Answering Service
First, you must work with an answering service like Sound Telecom that has experience handling medical calls. Sound Telecom has provided support to the medical community for over 30 years. An experienced call center dedicated to delivering quality care for your patients is critical.

Ensure your patient does not block their Caller ID
In order for your answering service to properly communicate with a non-verbal caller, your patient must avoid blocking their Caller ID. When your answering service can “see” the incoming Caller ID, it can quickly help categorize the incoming call and allow operators to know that they have a non-verbal patient on the other end of the line. Answering services like Sound Telecom can take an incoming call, identify the Caller ID, and quickly process the call according to the script provided.

Have a proper script in place
Make sure that your answering service knows they will receive calls from non-verbal patients. If they don’t know, then they can easily mistake a non-verbal caller as a prank call and hang up. Agents can be informed of the presence of a non-verbal caller in two ways: 1) the patient’s Caller ID, and 2) a proper script or call handling instruction if a Caller ID is available or not. For security reasons, some non-verbal patients will not give you a Caller ID display. Then you have to ensure that agent’s know what to do if they hear dead air or silence on the other end of the line.

Train your answering service staff
Your answering service must make the call handling instructions clear to the agents that handle non-verbal patients. Non-verbal callers are typically the exception and not the rule. Agents can be trained to handle hundreds of calls in a day and it is not uncommon for an answering service to receive a prank call. That is why it must be made extremely clear that agents are not to disconnect the call if there is no response on the other end. Proper scripting, call handling and training will go a long way to ensure your non-verbal patients receive proper care.

Yes, you can have your answering service provide exceptional care to non-verbal patients. Be sure to talk to them thoroughly about this need so that you can develop the proper process and procedures together. If you have non-verbal patients and need an answering service that can take care of them, contact us  today and we’ll work with you to build the perfect support program.

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About Brian Gabriel

As the Call Center Manager for Sound Telecom, Brian is responsible for overseeing the daily operations and long term success of the company while managing a variety of inbound customer support programs. He also has a hand in taking care of the Solaxis services division. Prior to joining Sound Telecom, Mr. Gabriel held management positions with several prominent Internet Services companies including XpenseWise.com and Greatfood.com. Brian started his career in advertising and sales before moving to Washington State. He joined AEI Music in 1995 and supervised their international customer service department and technical support call centers. Brian received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism with a minor in Spanish languages from San Diego State University. Brian teaches adult education at his church and actively supports Christian ministries.