How To Be A Great Intake Coordinator Part 2 ft. Luci Carrillo & Jamie Mache

Being a great Intake Coordinator takes conscious effort and specialist training.
Listen in to part two of our comprehensive training as Uriah's leadership team share five more qualities of a great intake coordinator. Click to listen now!

In This Episode, You'll Learn:

  • How you can improve in your skills as an intake coordinator
  • Five additional qualities of great intake coordinators
    • Positive under pressure
    • Ability to handle difficult situation
    • A good listener
    • Willingness to learn, grow, and make suggestions
    • Good self-care practices

Resources Mentioned In This Episode:

Therapy Intake Pro
The Productive Practice book

⬇️ Click for full episode transcript ⬇️

Luci
Hello and welcome to the Productive Therapist podcast! My name is Lucy and I am the director of sales and marketing over here at Productive Therapist. I'm joined by my cohost Jamie, who is our amazing director of operations. Hi, Jamie. How are you?

Jamie
Good, how are you?

Luci
Yeah, I'm good, thanks. So Uriah is currently zipping around the country training practice owners on how to get more done so they can have more fun. And so Jamie and I are here to help you do the same with this episode of the podcast. In the last episode, we discussed five traits that all great intake coordinators have. And we promised you a part two, because there are five more traits that we found to be key in a truly great intake coordinator. So this time we'll be talking about, firstly, the ability to handle difficult situations. Two, remaining positive under pressure. Three, being a good listener. Four, a willingness to learn, grow, and make suggestions for improvements. There's a lot in one, actually, and I'm sure we'll dissect that in due course. And number five, good self care practices. Okay, so Jamie, with that first one, the ability to handle difficult situations, can you help us understand what this looks like in the intake coordinator role? Absolutely.

Jamie
So the first thing would be having the intake coordinator be able to work through a situation or an obstacle that they come up with. Problem solving is the number one skill. Having something difficult to handle, being able to problem solve, see different ways that they can work through that. And it could be anything from having an emotional or a distressed caller or having platform difficulties, anything of that sort, any challenges in their day to day, being able to work through it, knowing that that specific item or situation isn't forever, that it is a momentarily thing. And again, having having my favorite thing, having grit. And I knew it was going to....

Luci
Come up at some point! All about that grit.

Jamie
I have a sign that is in my kitchen. It says grit in grace. And I love it. I saw it in a little boutique store when I was visiting my son in Wyoming. And I was like, I have to have that because it is my word. When I saw that, that just jumped out and spoke to me, because that's life. You have to have grit and you have to also give yourself grace to be able to get through everything. And so that really sticks with me. It resonates very much.

Luci
Yeah, that's a really great point. Grit and grace, you do need both. And when we're hiring, I know that you and I both look for somebody who has shown the ability to handle different difficult situations. But as an intake coordinator, that can look very different. You can be dealing with a very emotional caller or potentially even somebody who is suicidal. And having the ability to handle that is vital. Because you could be this person's lifeline. Not to get too heavy and serious, but that's the reality that we're putting ourselves in that situation as an intake coordinator. So having the ability to have that grit to get through the situation, but then, like you said, having the grace to give yourself time to process that afterwards, they're both very important elements of being able to handle distressing situations. Don't you agree?

Jamie
Absolutely. And knowing that, I know that with every difficult situation, especially when it's with an intense call that somebody just took, you will always be questioning yourself like, oh my gosh, did I do that correctly? Was my tone the right tone that it needed to be? Was I empathetic enough? Did I show that I was actively listening to that caller? You would be running through those things after in your mind, like over and over, but you need to again give yourself the grace knowing that you did the best that you could in that moment and that you did give that person the help that they needed to whatever that help looked like in that moment.

Luci
Yeah, I agree with that. I was thinking about your sign, the grace element of it. Even if somebody brings the ability to handle difficult situations into an intake Coordinator role, the situations that you're going to be facing in that position are very specific and they're not really something that most people have experience with before doing this role for the first time. So training is very important in that situation. You don't need to come into this role feeling like, oh my goodness, I need to know how to do this from the get go or I'm just going to fail at this position. That's not how it is. You gain more experience as you do the role for longer and longer, but also having some training resources to be able to level up your abilities with this situation can be very helpful. Giving yourself grace in that situation to learn these skills, giving yourself time and being patient with yourself. Can you think of any specific resources? Jamie, I know we didn't talk about this in advance, but some specific resources that somebody who is not an Intake Coordinator with productive therapist could use to train themselves on how to handle the intake role.

Jamie
I think the first and foremost would be our Therapy Intake Pro course.

Luci
Yeah, I was thinking of that too.

Jamie
Yeah, that's a very great course that you and Tracel made for us specifically, and that has been such a key role for us training our new Intake coordinators. And I know that there have been several comments and testimonials from other people that have had their intake coordinators go through that course saying that how much of an asset that that was and how much knowledge and information that their intake coordinator came away from that course with. And it just gave them that extra confidence and knowledge about doing the position. And I think having the confidence that to be able to do the position feeling more comfortable doing the position is also a key part, because if somebody doesn't have that feeling of confidence within themselves, that will be heard by the caller on the other side of the line.

Luci
Yeah, that's a really good point. I was thinking about therapy intake pro as well. It's such a well rounded tool. Like Jamie said, we use it in house to train our virtual assistants in how to be a great intake coordinator, the specifics of that. But we also have multiple practice owners. I'm saying multiple. We have hundreds of practice owners across the country who have used that to train themselves on how the intake process should look. They've also used it to train their intake staff, their intake team. Maybe they purchase the course to train one person specifically, but because Therapy Intake Pro comes with lifetime access included, they've actually used that to train new members of staff. Maybe the first one leaves, somebody else comes on, and they don't have to take the time to construct a training for this new person, this new member of staff. They can just use Therapy Intake Pro to train them and level up their skills to what's needed for the practice. And we also in the program, we have multiple intake coordinators who are virtual assistants in their own right, independent VAS, and they take the training. They've stayed with the training because they found it so helpful for leveling up their skills. So we didn't intend for this to turn into an ad for Therapy Intake Pro, but it really is a great tool. So if you want to learn more about that, you can check it [email protected]. Okay, that's probably enough ad type talk for a bit. Let's move on to our second point being positive under pressure. What does that look like to you, Jamie?

Jamie
Being positive under pressure? To me, you know, the three words that come to mind is calm, cool, and collect. It being able to keep your tone steady. Be reassuring to the caller on the other side of the line if it is for a call situation. Being able to calmly relay the information or gather the information that you need from that caller and having yourself be collected during the call. But then know that once the call has ended, you have every right to have a moment of yourself and feel everything that you need to feel from that call. And if you need to take a moment and cry for five minutes, go out and take a walk, go allow yourself to do that, but stay collected during the call. And then on the other side of that, if it's within a working situation, not being reactive to something, if something was brought to your attention and you don't absolutely agree with it, being calm on that part, being poised on how you respond to that and making sure that your point is worded correctly. Like the old saying is like write the email, put it away, come back to it 15 minutes later, reread it and make sure it's exactly how you want it before you hit that send button. And then doing that, being able to communicate, I think being able to receive constructive feedback or basically radical candor, being able to receive that and then also being able to give it in a professional manner is a key aspect because you need to be able to work with many different people in an intake coordinator position. Because you're working with therapist, you could be working with a biller, you're working with the client. So it's several different types of people, several different ways of communication. You just need to make sure that you are on top of everything and being at your professional best at it all.

Luci
Yeah, I agree with all that. Those are great observations. I was thinking too, the intake coordinator hears a lot of stuff when they have a caller that they're speaking to, they're going to hear at least the bones of a caller's situation and that can be very challenging to hear for them. And like you said, they may need to take some time after that call to refresh themselves mentally and emotionally. But then when you think about the therapists in the practice, they are having to actually hear the details of that situation day in and day out with all of their clients. And that's a heavy load to bear for any human being. So, as the Intake Coordinator being aware of that, that other team members in the practice, specifically the therapists, if they are stressed out or tetchy, they're struggling on a certain day to give them grace as well and to try and remain positive yourself, knowing that they're dealing with a lot, a lot that the Intake Coordinator never has to hear about. So that's an important thing for an intake coordinator to bear in mind. Something else that I was thinking about with you and me, Jamie, the way that we work together, more often than not, we agree on the solution to something. But there are definitely times when we differ. We have different opinions and we both have strong opinions on why it should be the way that we think it should be. But the reality is that there are almost always multiple ways to do something right or well. So bearing that in mind, even though we feel passionately about how something should be done, more often than not the other person's way of doing it, that also would probably work just as well in reality. And you and I know that we take into consideration each other's viewpoints and opinions. We're open to them, we're not rigid on the way that we look at something. And doing that as an intake coordinator, that can be a very valuable skill too, because you may see a problem, you may see a way to fix it. You take that to the practice owner. They don't see it the same way, they see another solution. Remaining positive in that situation and not feeling like you're being beaten down or your viewpoint isn't being considered, it probably is. It just may not be either what's best for the practice or it may not be what the practice owner wants to try in that moment and maybe they will down the line when they've tried it their way and it doesn't work out as well. But remaining positive in that situation can be very helpful as well. Do you agree?

Jamie
Yeah. Remaining positive and flexible are absolutely keys and being able to communicate. I know. You and I, when we get to that, where we have different viewpoints on something, we're able to talk back and forth and share our viewpoints with each other and being able to have that open communication without having the fear of like, oh, my gosh, is Lucy really judging me right now with how my.

Luci
Viewpoint on we're human? We think it right.

Jamie
Absolutely! Everybody's afraid of that. But knowing that it's okay to have a different viewpoint and being able to share that viewpoint, even as uncomfortable as it may be I know I personally struggle with standing up on some things and saying I don't really agree with that because it absolutely is so much easier just to go with the flow. Absolutely. There are times where that is just not the right stance to take. And everybody should absolutely be able to voice how they're feeling or their viewpoint on something and have it be heard and actively heard and understood. And more times than not with you and I, we basically meet in the middle of what we were both thinking on it and it's a great compromise for what the situation that we were dealing with.

Luci
Yeah, I agree. It's definitely my goodness, work can be a real learning curve, even personally because you're right, it is very difficult. Well, no, that's not true for everybody. For many people it is very difficult to stand up for the way they feel, but when they don't, taking the easier route, just going with the flow. Often you quietly simmer inside feeling like nobody heard my viewpoint. But the reality is that if you don't express it, nobody is going to hear it in the first place. And so while it's uncomfortable, it's kind of the lesser of two evils. To use what you said earlier radical candor to make your suggestions, then you don't go away and quietly simmer feeling like an underling that never gets to make any contributions. But also when you do that, having the flexibility and modesty to recognize that there are other ways of doing the same thing, that could work just as well. So being able to contribute gives you a feeling of self respect and like you've contributed, but also like you've been saying, having that positive outlook and being flexible helps you to be an easy person to work with, and you feel good about what you're doing as well, right? Okay, well, we are going to take a minute and hear from Uriah with a special message. Okay, our next point that we're going to cover is being a good listener. And this is a really interesting one, because when you think about it, there may just be one angle to this. Somebody is calling in, they've got a problem. They want the practice to help them fix it. And being a good listener is really important. It's important in an intake coordinator. It's also important in a therapist. But the difference with or maybe actually there isn't really a difference. There's just a difference in purpose. For an intake coordinator, you are absolutely listening with a purpose. Your purpose is to help connect this person with the help and support they need, right? Yes. So when you are actively listening to them, often if you're such a good listener that you never stop them or reroute the conversation, people will keep talking for a long time because it kind of becomes a mini therapy session in their mind. And that is not the purpose of an intake coordinator. Your role is to connect them with the help that a therapist can give them. So actively listening, but then knowing when to redirect the person, when to interrupt and say, this is fantastic information to share with your therapist at your first appointment. Let's get you scheduled so that that can happen ASAP. That is an important skill to develop so that you can keep the calls moving in a productive direction. How do you feel about that, Jamie, about being a good listener as an intake coordinator?

Jamie
Knowing when absolutely. Like what you just shared, of knowing when to jump in and direct the call, to be able to move it forward, knowing when to express empathy. Another key point is repeating back what the caller said to make sure what you heard is what they wanted you to hear.

Luci
Wow, that's a great point.

Jamie
Yeah, that is also a good one, because in the moment, they may be thinking that they're conveying one thing, but it's not really being said how they thought it would be, and then that allows them to make sure that that's exactly what needed to be said. And so you could move forward in the direction that you need to to get them the services.

Luci
Yes, absolutely. I agree with that. It's such a key skill, being a good listener, and it seems like it's one that we see less and less in the world around us because people are so busy, they're so distracted. I mean, we all are. I'm saying they but it it includes all of us. We're so distracted. There are so many things grabbing our attention. The Western world is very fast paced. We talk a lot about work life balance, but we tend to be really bad at it. And so developing that ability to be a good listener, an active listener, while also having a purpose in mind, that can actually be very difficult because it is a slightly different skill to listening to a friend. If a friend is struggling with something and they just want to vent, to talk about it, your role is simply to listen. Right?

Jamie
Right. Yeah.

Luci
I mean, this is something that it seems a perennial problem that women wives complain about with their husbands. He doesn't listen. He tries to solve my problems. And in that situation, that is exactly what you need. You need somebody to just listen to not be thinking yeah. Not be thinking about what you're saying and, okay, how can I fix that? Just listen. Don't come up with solutions. Just listen. But in the role of an intake coordinator, that is slightly different because the person is speaking to you for a reason. They want you to connect them with the help they need. That's why they've called. So while active listening is a vital part of that, you also have to bear in mind the person's purpose in calling and get them connected with the help that they need, not just listening endlessly without a purpose. Does that make sense?

Jamie
Absolutely.

Luci
Oh, goody. So glad to hear that. Okay, so number four, a willingness to learn, grow and make suggestions for improvements. It sounds like three things in one, and it kind of is, but they're all connected. How would you explain how this is vital to a grading intake coordinator?

Jamie
Jamie I would describe this as if you see something that is needed or something that can be done, you do it. Just seeing that need and doing it, not being asked to do it or not leaving it because it's not your job. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying to be a doormat or a mop, cleaning up everything, but if you see that something small that needs to be done and it's absolutely something that's within your scope and you can do it just doing that, helping team members. I know that a lot of the intake coordinator role is a support role. So it can feel like everybody is coming to you. They're coming to you because they see you as basically the beacon, the guiding light of what needs to be done. And doing that and then not feeling overwhelmed or like, why couldn't they just do that for themselves? It was so simple. They're coming to you because they see you as a resource and they trust you. It's a compliment. It is a compliment and it can easily be taken as they just didn't want to do that, so they asked me to. I don't believe that. I feel like they are asking you because they trust you. They see you as a professional and they wouldn't go to you if they didn't see you as a professional. They would have kept it to themselves and done it themselves. So it absolutely is a compliment.

Luci
That's a great perspective. I love that. When I was thinking about this point, I was thinking specifically about the making suggestions for improvements part because I had a conversation with one of our VAS a couple of days ago. This particular VA has fantastic suggestions for their practice owners. But because they've come into this role, they weren't there from the inception of the practice, they feel like they're the new person and they can't possibly know enough or be respected enough by the practice owner to make suggestions to improve basically anything. But the reality is, and what I explained to her was that the practice owner has asked for an intake coordinator to come in and help with their practice specifically because they know they can't do this role. Either they're too busy or it's not something they enjoy. They know that they shouldn't be doing that. It's not a good use of their time. They have actively sought out a professional, somebody that they trust to do this role, the intake role. And in that position, they see you as the expert. You are the expert to them, the expert that they've hired to help them. So, bearing that in mind can help you to feel more confident in the ideas that you have. Because you are involved in the day to day of the intake process, you see problems and issues that nobody else sees. And you can likely also see ways to eliminate those issues or provide a good solution for streamlining things. So making those suggestions to your practice owner, it's only ever going to be valued if it's something that they don't want to do right now that doesn't undercut the value of your suggestion. It's just they may have other things that are the priority right now that they want to focus on. But don't stop making those suggestions, don't hold back because you are the expert in this role, you're the one doing the intake role and your observations are invaluable to a practice owner. Would you agree?

Jamie
Yeah, personally, I have struggled with the same thing, because it could be seen the practice owner is a person of, you know, importance of high statue, of, you know, they they own the business, and you don't want to come across as telling them that the way that they're doing it is not sufficient or efficient or right or wrong. So it can be a daunting thing going to a practice owner saying like, hey, I think that this process would be more efficient doing it this way, especially with the knowledge that they have been doing their process that way for a substantial amount of time. But the one thing is they may only know that one process and especially if you are an intake coordinator that works with multiple practices. You have that special knowledge of multiple the way that multiple practices do different things. And that is an absolute benefit, I think, to any practice owner, because you are getting that knowledge of your intake coordinator of multiple practices, and it can only benefit all of the practices that that intake coordinator works with.

Luci
Yeah, great points. Okay, so our final point is good self care practices. My goodness. I feel like that's a buzzword, that we hear so much of self care that I don't know if you're anything like me, Jamie, but certain words, when you hear them so much, so often, I just kind of switch off or phase out mentally when I hear them, because you just hear them so much, they blend into the background. And this, unfortunately, has happened with self care. It's become a buzzword. Sorry. Hold on. Sorry. Josh was just opening the door. Okay, let me rewind a little bit. I don't know if you're anything like me, Jamie, but when I hear certain words repeated over and over again, and self care, unfortunately, is one of those I tend to switch off mentally because I've just heard it so many times. I don't think about how this applies to me as an individual. I'm not thinking about specifics. It's just another thing that I'm being told I should do, and that in an already busy world with a busy life, I just kind of switch off from that. Can you tell us why, from your experience, self care is so vital to the role of an intake coordinator specifically?

Jamie
I think that it goes to the old saying, you have to take care of yourselves before you can take care of anybody else. Anybody that has flown with a child knows this. The flight attendant will come to you, and after they do their little pre flight take off information, and especially with the oxygen masks, they will come up to you and tell you, as an adult, you need to put your mask on yourself before you put the mask on your child. And the first time I was flying with my child, I was like, oh, that's crazy. I'm taking care of my child first. They can't put their mask on. I need to do it. But then I realized if I don't take care of me, that type of situation, I won't be able to put their mask on them. So it's sort of the same thing. You need to take care of yourself so you can basically be there to take care of others. And it's the same thing as, like, a caregiver. If you're an in home caregiver to a loved one, you have to make sure that you are okay to be able to provide that care for your loved one. And it's as simple as making sure you stay hydrated. It is so easy to go through the day, and you're so busy. You're so caught up in everything that you have forgotten to drink any water that day. It's making sure that you do those little things and get outside. I'm a big supporter of absolutely walking away from your workstation at lunch and breaks and if the weather permits, get outside and get a little bit of sun. We need the sun also. And doing something of that sort. I also feel that what I like to do also is to have a certain what I call a shutdown ritual. And so towards the end of my work day, I will move all of my unfinished tasks that I didn't get to this day to the next day. Luckily, Todoist does that for me. It keeps a running tab of what I didn't get to. So that for me is done automatically. I shut down all of my platforms. I organize my workspace so it's ready for the next day. I'm not starting my day to a cluttered workspace. Doing those sorts of things can help you feel calm. You can go as far as like if you have a certain candle that you like, having that on your desk. What our virtual assistants came up with when we asked them for this, some of them actually have a certain playlist on Spotify or a music app that they like to have playing very low in the background. So just little things like that to have those self care practices so you feel better. But I would mostly say, like making sure that you're hydrated, you're taking care of yourself in that department, eating a well balanced lunch, getting in an apple or some sort of fruit, not just snacking on the recent peanut butter cups that are in the freezer, doing those easy things and taking care. And then the other thing is, everybody you're human. So everybody tends to just get to a point where they just need a day. They need a day. We call those mental health days at the productive therapist, and we have adopted a policy that when our virtual assistants come to us and they say, I need a mental health day, we say absolutely. They take a mental health day and they come back refreshed and rejuvenated. And I think that that's an important thing also for the intake coordinators and also the practice owners to realize that it's okay to have a mental health day or whatever you want to call it in your practice. If you want to come up with a name that sounds more fun than that, just do something like that and you can have that day. Do what you need. I mean, if it's getting a massage or going on a hike that you've been wanting to go to, or going and sitting at the lake or the ocean and just listening to the waves crash, doing something that just rejuvenates yourself and fills your soul, that's important also.

Luci
Great comments. Thanks Jamie. I know it's 11:00 jamie so. I can finish up the rest. If you could just say three things for me. If you can say, I want you to say, Absolutely, and then leave a pause and say Right. Like you're agreeing with something that I've said. So if you could do that. Okay.

Jamie
Absolutely. Right.

Luci
Great. Okay, so those are the ten - what are they? Okay, so those are the ten traits that we at Productive Therapists have found to be vital in a truly great intake coordinator. So just to run through this week's five, the ability to handle difficult situations, remaining positive under pressure, being a good listener, but with a purpose, a willingness to learn, grow, and make suggestions for improvements, have confidence in yourself, and finally, good self care practices. We've given you a nice long list of what those could look like if you have not been taking notes. There will be a transcript of this episode, along with the link to the episode on Productivetherapist.com in our blog, so you can feel free to check that out. Jamie and I feel really lucky because we get to work with a truly amazing team of virtual intake wardrobe jamie and I feel really lucky because we get to work with a truly amazing team of virtual intake coordinators at Productive Therapist. They all work hard to incorporate the ten traits we've shared with you over the past couple of episodes, and the results really speak for themselves. So we hope that you found some action points that you can apply today in your role as an intake coordinator or, if you're a practice owner listening to this, some helpful points for your intake coordinator to take on board as well. If you're looking for more in depth training for the intake coordinator role, we suggest checking out Therapy Intake Pro, which is the gold standard training for intake coordinators in our industry. You can check that [email protected], and we'll include a link to that in the show notes. Okay. Jamie and I are thrilled to get to share some of our experience to help you. We hope it's been helpful, and we will see you in the next episode. Bye, Jamie!

Jamie
Bye!

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