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Treatment centers find a need to make each admissions call count

March 25, 2009
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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A consultant launches a training course for admissions staff

A weak economy and intensified competition appear to be resulting in a lower call volume for the admissions departments of some addiction treatment centers. This in turn is sharpening a focus on the substance of the conversations that occur between admissions staff and prospective clients on the occasions when the phone does ring.

In one sign of the times, a St. Paul, Minnesota-based behavioral health consulting firm has introduced a customized training program to assist admissions staff in improving the customer experience and thereby converting more calls to actual admissions. AIR Inc.’s “You Make the Difference” training is being conducted in conjunction with CRK Interactive, a sales training company.

“Marketing initiatives alone cannot increase call volume quickly enough,” says Chip Dempsey, AIR’s vice president. “In times like these, it is even more important to get the most out of every phone call.”

Dempsey, who authored an article in the September/October 2006 issue of Addiction Professional on the treatment model for recovering professionals, says the current economic times have required addiction treatment organizations to look at their admissions staff members as more than simply compassionate voices on the phone line. “The challenge is that frequently their job necessitates that they be able to leverage some sales techniques to gain commitment from the caller,” he says.

The AIR training in this area consists of an online self-assessment and training module followed by a one-day classroom session.

Other quality-improvement efforts in the addiction treatment community in recent years have prioritized the content of the first contact between a prospective client and a treatment center. Given how the present economy is affecting the census at many centers, this seems destined to continue as a front-burner issue.

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