How important is face to face patient support in times of text reminders, emails, online booking systems and chat bots? Well, extremely important. Actually, more important now than ever before! Dentistry requires close human contact; so that means trust is everything. Human interaction and connection helps to build trust. A potential patient and even those adored regular patients all connect with the front desk reception team before they connect with the dentist. Hence, that first impression is made when the patient walks in the door, or gets in touch with your business via email or phone. That interaction is extremely important. You need to invest your time and efforts to fix that first impression in order to run a successful and scalable practice. Here’s everything you need to know on how to go about it:
Tip 1: Be Welcoming and Smile
We all dread that grumpy receptionist at the front desk, the one that asks more questions than she answers, the one that makes the experience of going to a dentist all the more stressful and nerve-wrecking. That person costs the practice big dollars in lost opportunity and lost patients. Everything about you and your team members, including the DA, the receptionist, and any other person that a patient will interact with needs to be welcoming, approachable and replicate the service you want your patients to receive. You need to have a smile on your face, and be welcoming and compassionate. The fact is, you will get patients from all walks of life. There may be that person who has had a bad day at work, a person going through divorce, someone coming to the dentist for the first time because they couldn’t avoid it anymore or a kid who is scared of needles. The last thing they want to feel is unwelcome and uncomfortable. Be a willing helper, be sensitive and compassionate before you are the person who books appointments or fixes their teeth.
Top 2: Listen For What Is Being Asked Of You
Our minds are occupied with so much information that our attention spans are minimal. Hence, it has become quite difficult to remain focused in the present. Sure, you’d like to respond to emails and heed to patient’s queries all at the same time, but that makes you lose focus and a lot is lost in translation. It is imperative that you truly listen to what is being asked of you. So if a patient asks you if the doctor is nice, then they may be a little nervous and looking for some comfort or reassurance. Reassure them that they are in good hands.
Top Tip 3: Hire People with the Right Skills so they own the job
Just like a dentist is not taught much about running a business, a nurse or dental assistant doesn’t know much about handling the front desk. Investing in the right skill set will render you the right returns. The chances are, saving money on a professional receptionist will cost you more in patients and referrals than it will save you. Having team members job sharing between reception and DA duties can be a disaster. Let me put it to you another way. People go into being a Receptionists and being a Dental Assistant for different reasons. They want to achieve the success that professional role offers them and that they have trained them for. We want our team members to own their roles and responsibilities. It is very hard to fully own a role when you are not fully immersed in it.
Top Tip 4: Dress Well
This is probably the last thing you’d see a dental practice focus on. What does it matter what you wear as long as you know how to answer the phone and handle the tools! It matters a lot because your appearance sets the tone for you. It creates that first impression without uttering a word. For starters, all team members should be in clean and crisp uniforms. A uniform shows the professionalism of a practice. It gives the appearance of a practice that takes it work and responsibilities seriously. Just like you wouldn’t walk into a night club wearing sports gear or a cocktail party wearing pyjamas, you shouldn’t be walking into work looking shabby. It just makes you look uncaring and disinterested.
Top Tip 5: Keep Your Team Happy
If you look after your team they will look after your patients! Humans are pretty intuitive. You could walk into a room and feel uneasy or uncomfortable without anyone having to say anything. This is because unhappy spaces give off negative vibes. By keeping your team members happy, you set the tone for your patients. Your team members will channel that love and respect to your patients. The only way to keep the team happy is to stay in the loop with them. Conduct regular meetings, take them out for lunches, acknowledge and appreciate their hard work and always listen to what they have to say by respecting their input. All of this helps retain good employees which will positively reflect on your practice and your patients.
Top Top 6: Keep your Patients Happy
Same goes for your patients. It costs much less to retain patients than it does to attract new ones. If your practice is able to retain patients in the long run, then you wouldn’t even have to invest much in marketing. A happy patient will be more likely to refer you to those in their sphere of influence. The happy experience begins and ends at the front desk. Your receptionist is the point of contact and the last first. You could also show appreciation for their loyalty in the form of little thoughtful notes, post-surgery phone calls or even a little gift sent out to their home or their inbox to show that you care. The patient is more than happy to rave about the dentist and his team that go the extra mile to make their patients feel special.
The fact is, making the patient experience a great one isn’t just the responsibility of the practice owner or even the practice manager, this responsibility is shared by everyone the patient interacts with. The front desk, in particular, needs to make the patient feel welcomed and comfortable. A customer service means happy patients that would love to walk through those doors again and again, and perhaps even bring more people with them. So be sure that you don’t underestimate the importance and value the front desk brings to the practice. If you’d like to know more about our workshops on this topic, please visit savvydentist.com/front desk to see when we’d be visiting the city nearest to you. We’d love to see you there!
P.S. Whenever you’re ready …. here are 4 ways I can help you grow your dental practice:
1. Grab a free chapter from my book “Retention – How to Plug the #1 Profit Leak in Your Dental Practice”
The book is the definitive guide to patient retention and how to use internal marketing to grow your practice – Click Here
2. Join the Savvy Dentist community and connect with dentists who are scaling their practice too
It’s our Facebook group where clever dentists learn to become commercially smart so that they have more patients, more profit and less stress. – Click Here
3. Attend a Practice Max Intensive live event
Our 2 day immersive events provide access to the latest entrepreneurial thinking and actionable strategies to drive your practice forward. You’ll leave with a game plan to take your results to the next level. If you’d like to join us, just send me a message with the word “Event and I’ll get you all the details! – Click here
4. Work with me and my team privately
If you’d like to work directly with me and my team to take your profit from 6 figures to 7 figures …. just send me a message with the word “Private”… tell me a little about your practice and what you would like to work on together, and I’ll get you all the details! – Click here