Mastering dental front desk etiquette for a lasting impression
Making a good first impression is an important part of being at the front desk of the dental practice. What are some basic steps that can ensure patients see the best the office has to offer?
This article originally appeared in Dental Office Manager Digest e-newsletter. Subscribe to this informative monthly ENL designed specifically for the dental office manager here.
When we leave home and step out into the world, our appearance and how we carry ourselves determines how we will be received by those around us. Many of us invest an exorbitant amount of time and money in perfecting our images so we can make a good impression on those we meet. First impressions matter, and speak volumes about a person’s character and values.
In the dental world, the same concept applies, and the front deskserves as the face of the entire organization. These are the people patients see first and interact with when they arrive at the office, and the last they see before they leave. Thus, mastering front desk etiquette is critical to the success of the dental practice.
Here are the top three ways your front desk personnel can make a lasting impression on your patients and keep them returning for years to come.
You want to make a great first impression on every patient who enters, so the first thing to do when patients arrive for their appointments and present themselves to the front desk is to greet them. Your staff should welcome patients with a smile, and their voices should be pleasant and inviting. It’s also important that they make eye contact as they talk with patients. This will indicate that they are listening to the patient. It’s also an excellent way to nonverbally communicate with someone when the office is busy and verbal acknowledgement is not possible, such as when the front desk person is on the phone or helping another patient. It will convey that they are paying attention to the patient and have acknowledged his or her presence without having to say anything. The front desk should also offer refreshments to patients while they wait, as well as let them know about any unexpected delays.
Making a good impression shouldn’t end after the front desk welcomes and checks in patients. It should continue throughout someone’s entire visit. How their visit ends is just as important as how it begins. Besides scheduling future appointments and collecting payment, the front desk is responsible for a smooth check-out process. They should be trained on how to answer questions regarding treatment, and if there are any concerns about the visit, the front desk should address these with a calm and friendly demeanor, all while maintaining eye contact. The front desk should never speak in a condescending tone, and just as they greeted the patient with a smile, they should also conclude the visit with a smile.
The front desk is not only the face of the organization, it is also the voice. Although many appointments are now scheduled electronically, there are plenty of patients who prefer to call the office. It’s important that the front desk is trained to answer calls in a certain manner because it will help form an impression of the office and convey the competency of the entire practice. Additionally, whatis said on the phone is just as important as how it is said. Calls should be answered by the second ring, and every team member should smile when they answer. Smiling will transform how the greeting sounds and make the tone more positive and friendly. Lastly, if you need to put someone on hold, get the person’s permission before doing so. Putting someone on hold without a warning will disrupt the flow and taint the relationship-building process.
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Helen B. Funk has been working as the office manager of Cosmopolitan Dental since its inception in 2006. As the primary patient liaison, Helen's goal is to accommodate the patients in a professional, knowledgeable, and personable manner. Helen is currently enrolled in NYU and is working toward a certificate in leadership and organizational development. She is keen on ensuring that the office runs smoothly from the front desk. In her free time Helen enjoys writing, traveling, yoga, and exploring new restaurants in New York City.