Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2015 07 Waiting Room 1

Excellent patient hospitality will help your dental practice shine

July 23, 2015
It may be hard for patients to distinguish dental practices. That's where outstanding patient hospitality comes in. Be sure all staff members are trained to take special care of patients, and your practice will thrive.

From the moment the patient calls your office to the moment the patient walks out, customer service skills are crucial to ensure each person feels warm, welcome, and at home. If for any reason someone feels the slightest bit uncomfortable, they may never return.

This is why dental professionals need to keep in mind that all new patients and existing patients are treated with the utmost professional hospitality, but we also need to keep in mind that not all staff members are created equal. Some staff are excellent in certain areas and more sociable than others, and some excel more in clinical settings. This is why employees should be assigned to specific duties. Personality characteristics should help determine what role suits which people.

ALSO BY KYLE SUMMERFORD:Case acceptance: mastering the 'Art of Persuasion in Dentistry' by mastering the art of compassion

Phone call – Keep in mind the professionalism your office reflects starts over the phone. From the new patient experience, confirmations, reminder recalls, and handling emotional and sensitive patients ­– it all begins the moment a staff member answers the telephone.

* Ideal staff member characteristics here include energetic, patient, and understanding.

Waiting room – As new patients sit in an unknown environment it may feel a bit awkward their first time. As someone sits in the waiting roomit’s vital to ensure the person feels comfortable and welcome. Drinks, snacks, and simple entertainment go a long way. Most patients, especially new ones, may not just walk over and grab a drink or snack. Make sure a staff member offers something to the patient.

* Ideal staff member characteristics here include sociable, outgoing, and talkative.

Operatory ­–
As the patient sits in the dental chair waiting to be seen, small talk can be a great way to break the ice. The dental assistant should take the time to learn about the patient. Questions about family, occupation, and previous dental history are all good for starter conversations.

* Ideal staff member characteristics here include knowledgeable, family-oriented, and curious.

Upon exitingthe practice – All staff members should express how happy they are to meet patients, and they should encourage patients to schedule their next visit before leaving. They should also invite patients to send their friends and family as referrals. Finally, as patients leaves the office, be sure to hold the door for them, and all staff should be sure to say goodbye to patient. This will help create a sense of a family and leave patients feeling warm and fuzzy as they depart the office.

Incorporate these gestures into your daily routine, and your practice will stand out among the others and keep patients coming back.

Kyle L. Summerford is CEO and founder of Summerford Solutions, Inc. and editorial director of PennWell’s Dental Assisting Digest e-newsletter. He provides professional business coaching for dentists. Mr. Summerford is a professional speaker and author focusing on topics such as increasing practice revenue and staff efficiency training. Visit with inquiries regarding his dental practice efficiency services.