The ability and skills needed to communicate effectively on the phone are often underestimated. We also need a degree of ‘customer service’ skills; even in a health care environment. Good customer service skills are increasingly recognised as being of critical importance amongst all staff that interact with the public, especially when non clinical staff are being asked to ‘probe’ to ensure safe and efficient signposting and prioritisation can occur. They are the first point of contact and therefore represent the surgery; their responsibility is to present a positive and approachable presence on the phone which allows everything else within the surgery to operate smoothly and efficiently. Good use of these skills will help determine accurately what patients need – which is not always what they think!

The aim of this session is to provide delegates with the skills and understanding required to communicate effectively over the phone and to understand the importance of their role in managing calls to the appropriate outcome (signposting) and within the right timescales (prioritisation). It also addresses the excellent customer care required to handle calls sensitively and to provide information on how to deal with those patients or callers who can be difficult, demanding or frequent service users.

The virtual session will include experiential learning through participative activities including group exercises using the virtual breakout rooms and discussion. We do not use role play however as receptionists are often too worried about this to participate effectively in the rest of the session.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand the differences between face to face and telephone communication
  • Understand what is meant by ‘probing’
  • Understand what is meant by signposting and prioritisation
  • How to identify and overcome some of the barriers to communication
  • Learn how to identify difficult behaviours and how to manage them
  • Examine a call process – best practice and telephone etiquette
  • Documentation and passing messages/information on