Tone Train-Wrecks! Oh My!


The definition of tone is the general character or attitude of a place. And while everyone is aware of its importance, tone is largely mismanaged or even ignored. Still, the fact remains that tone is by far the most important aspect of customer service/patient experience.


The challenge is that tone cannot be properly managed with scripts, checklists or software. These methods lack the ability to address the most common instances where tone is exhibited by a specific behavior rather than a tone sound/frequency/inflection. Let’s look at some examples of that here.

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Agent: “Thank you for calling (hospital name), my name is Paul, how may I help you?”


Patient (in an exasperated voice): “Oh hi Paul, thank you for answering, I need to schedule an appointment, but I’ve been on hold for so long, I almost gave up! What the heck is going on there?”


Agent (in a casual voice): “What type of appointment do you need?”


Tone train-wreck! By failing to acknowledge the patient’s complaint about being on hold, Paul conveyed to the patient, “I don’t much care that you were on hold, so let’s just get this over with…” This passive-aggressive behavior is rude, adds to the patient’s frustration and conveys clearly that this hospital lacks concern for its patients' feelings.


Scripts, checklists and software would never catch this, and Paul would continue exhibiting this type of unprofessional and unacceptable behavior every day. _____________________________________________________________


Patient: “Hi, I would like to make an appointment, but I work 9-5, Monday through Friday, and the only time my boss will give me for this is Tuesdays or Thursdays between 11 am and 1 pm.”


Agent: “Let’s see here…no, we don’t have anything open for those days and times…” (followed by seconds of silence).


Tone train-wreck! By handling it this way, the agent basically said to the patient, “You are out of luck, there is nothing we can do about it, and I have another call to answer.”


Scripts, checklists and software would never catch this, and this agent would continue exhibiting this type of unprofessional, unacceptable behavior every day. _______________________________________________________________________


Patient: “Hi, I would like to schedule an MRI, please.”


Agent: “…do you have the diagnosis code on the prescription with you...?”


Patient: “Um…no, I thought you would have that already…”


Agent (casually): “Yeah, you’re going to need to get that before we can schedule anything for you…”


Tone train-wreck! This approach conveyed to the patient, “You are out of luck, you will not accomplish what you have called for, and here is what you need to do for me…” This approach is completely unprofessional.


Scripts, checklists and software would fail to catch this, and this agent would continue exhibiting this type of unprofessional and unacceptable behavior every day. _______________________________________________________________________


These are only three simple examples of how tone is more commonly exhibited by a behavior rather than a voice-sound. Tone, the general character or attitude of a place, can even be conveyed by silence.


The BCI program not only catches these types of tone misbehavior, we are experts at correcting them. The result is agents who consistently convey warmth, empathy and a sincere willingness to help, and our clients value that very much.