Realtime Reception News

Rip-off Bank Charges!!

The end of Rip-off bank charges: all charges for paying by card to be banned!

card payment charges

Card payment charges to be banned

The media is all-over how this impacts the customer, without being aware that the business is just passing on a cost from the bank. Most businesses charge a percentage on credit cards because the merchant companies who transfer the funds will make a percentage charge to them. So on a £500 item, flight, or booking the merchant will charge about £7.50. Plus the business will be paying a monthly fee, a set fee on all debit card transactions and for the terminal (card machine).

There is a lower risk of card fraud than there was with cheques, and there is less labour involved on the merchant side so it beats me why they started to charge more to do debit and credit card transactions in the first place. Nowadays the charges for cheques and cash to be banked are higher so you would expect the debit and credit charges to be reduced.

Big businesses can negotiate a reduced fee with the banks but sme’s don’t earn as much for the banks, so they are charged the full rates. You can shop around to find a better rate for an SME, but at the end of the day if you are a small business you will pay proportionately more for any service.

Sme’s are really being kicked around here.

So who should pay for the transaction the customer or the business?

How to dial an extension Hands-Free

You know how it is. You’re driving. You need to call someone at their office. They have an IVR (choose 1 for sales, 2 for accounts….). How to do it? I’m assuming you use Bluetooth, hands-free, and the person you need to call is in your contacts.

puppy on the phone

To put in an extension – just add a PAWS to the number.

For iPhone


  • In contacts go to the contact and choose edit.
  • Pick the number you are going to edit, then tap the +*# key, bottom left.
  • Then tap pause (under number1) This enters a pause in the dialling, which shows as a comma in the number display.
  • Enter the extension number
  • Tap done
  • You should then see the call number as something like 1234567891,345.


For a Samsung android phone

  • Enter the number, or choose from contacts
  • Tap on !@#
  • Choose pause (,)
  • Tap on the 123 button
  • Enter the extension number, and save.

Pre-Payment as you Book

Missed appointments can mean lost income

Missed Appointments a problem?

One way round it is Pre-Payment of a deposit or full fee in advance. It seems to jog the client’s memory and even if it doesn’t you have still got your fee.

As virtual receptionists working with many clinics we know that all clinics will have some patients who fail to attend. This is a potential loss of income for the therapist and it can be difficult to get a fee for a missed appointment.


How it works

For Pre-Payment you must have a merchant account and the account issuer will give you information about setting up a virtual terminal, which is the portal that takes payment for your bank account over the internet. If your clients can book online from your website you can make  prepayment a requirement of the booking.

If your customers like to phone in we can take the payment for you

  • we take their details, book the appointment and tell them we need to take a deposit.
  • We then link securely to your merchant terminal, and take the card details and payment.
credit card security

Card security is vital if you are taking prepayments

Data Security

PCI compliance is the standard of security that the Payment Card Industry require of you and us. Not surprising this is quite strict.

Among other things it requires us to ensure that nobody working here can store data on anyone’s credit or debit card. When taking a payment we pause call recording to ensure that we have no record of their card numbers etc. Staff do not keep paper and pen on their desks or mobile phones in the office.

We keep no record of the transaction at all except the fact that there has been one and the date/time. So you can be confident that your clients data is safe.

3 steps to create a secure password.

Secure data is vital

We take data protection and client confidentiality extremely seriously

As a virtual reception service we use passwords so much we use an Identity and Access Management System to make it easier. But at home and for personal use it can be a bit of a nightmare. Obviously, we need them, but remembering all the different passwords for different stuff, and how secure are they?

There are a few password testing sites – Kaspersky and “how secure is my password”, which show how frighteningly insecure your password is.

Should you have a different password for everything? I don’t think you can, there are so many things you need passwords for it would be impossible to remember all the variations. You could have one for financials and one for social stuff. But make it as secure as possible and stick with it would be my advice.

So – to create a secure password.

  • Don’t’ include names, words or mnemonics. You could use the first letter of children or siblings names, or the countries on the west coast of Africa.
  • Add in some random numbers.
  • Stick in a symbol somewhere in the middle.

Then you can test it against the sites mentioned above.


And now you just have to remember which sites you have updated.

6 essentials for an online clinic diary

The concept of a clinic diary is something not everyone understands.

It might seem odd to people whose work is calendar led, whose day is full of appointments, but there are other people who never use calendars at work. They work on a job and then another one and only occasionally make an appointment with a client. They have no idea what you need from a calendar if you work to a day full of bookings. Software designers often fall into this category. I actually can’t find a realistic photo of a clinic diary on Shutterstock; they all have only 1 or 2 appointments in a day – hardly enough to keep you in business.

There are many online calendars and diaries out there and/or sometimes a calendar comes as part of a website package, but – is it going to fulfil your needs? Should you get one designed for you?  Why would a practice management software be different?

6 Key pointers.

Essential Checks:

  1. Security – encryption: your data must be held securely, and (currently) held within the EU.
  2. It needs to be easy to use, easy to see when you work and when you don’t.
  3. You want to be able to find a free appointment easily, and search for an existing booking using the customer’s name.
  4. Your receptionist service need access to the full diary, including the back end, so they can look up a client if they need to cancel an appointment. Is this included? If there is a fee how much
  5. Do you pay a monthly fee or purchase the software licence. If it’s a purchase do you get upgrades, support, do you have to pay for that too?
  6. You need to be able to log several people at the same time, can you? Is it Free? If not how much? Some of these are admin people, can you vary the permissions?

Nice to have:

  • Embedded into your website so customers can book and cancel.
  • Online payment link?
  • Is there an audit trail, can you see who booked what?
  • Can you list appointment types so that e.g. you can choose a new client appointment and the software allows a longer appointment duration?
  • Does it update you with a text or email when there is a booking or cancellation?
  • Does it send an appointment confirmation and/or reminder to clients?
  • Clinical notes – especially useful if you might see clients at more than one location.

This may seem like a lot to consider. Some diary vendors are seasoned veterans and you can use their experience to help you choose. Remember you can usually take a free trial, or if you are getting it written for you, you should be able to have it personalised to your needs, but you will need to be clear what those needs are. Bear in mind that longstanding appointment booking software will have been tried and tested by many colleagues.

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