Okay, humor me for just a moment. Right now, let’s forget about running a dental office. Instead, imagine yourself in any of the scenarios described here.
You walk into a medical office. As you’re standing at the front desk, you can clearly see two employees in the back talking, and one looks up at you. You smile at the her and she smiles back, but then she continues her private conversation. You look around, hoping maybe someone else can check you in. You don’t see anyone else. Now you have to decide—do you wave the first employee over to help you, do you look for a place to sign in and hope you get it right, or do you sit and wait for someone to help you? Hmmmm. How do you feel at that moment? A bit uneasy inside? Annoyed? Ready to walk out but know you shouldn’t? Not a great feeling, is it?
You go to a fast food restaurant for lunch. You can tell they might be a bit short-staffed but there’s no line, so you decide to go ahead and order. The employee who’s in the back flipping burgers with gloves on walks up to help you. He rings up your order very efficiently. You get out a $20 bill to pay him, and he takes it with his gloves on and puts the money in the register. He pulls out the appropriate change and counts it back to you. You step aside to wait for your food as you watch the employee walk back to finish the food he was preparing—with those same gloves on. Great customer service, right? Who doesn’t love an employee who can multi-task? However, all you can focus on is the fact that he handled money with the same gloves that he is now using to prepare your food. You hope that everything is clean, but doesn’t that make you lose your appetite?
You need a new outfit for an upcoming event, and you finally find a store that has dresses you like. You select a few to try on and head to the fitting room. While trying on the dresses, you can hear employees in the back of the store talking. No big deal, right? You’re busy trying on dresses. But then you realize that the employees are discussing how their company is laying off staff and they’re worried they’ll be next. Then one employee complains about her boyfriend. They’re talking pretty quietly and you’re trying not to eavesdrop, but you can still hear more than you want to. The conversation continues, focusing on a customer who was a pain in the behind, and then on how much some customers annoy them. After trying on a few dresses, your mood has changed. You’re no longer excited about the upcoming event and a new dress. Instead, all you can think about is leaving this store and its negative atmosphere. You hope you can find another store without all the drama.
Did you notice a common theme in these scenarios? What do they have to do with dentistry and dental offices? Everything! Anytime you walk into a business, you’re a customer making the decision to spend money in this office or not. It doesn’t matter whether you walk into a doctor’s office, fast food restaurant, or department store. Your experience as a customer is based on much more than the actual service or product offered by that business. In fact, you’re more likely to make a decision about a business based on the intangible aspects of your experience—the pleasantness of the environment, the nonverbal cues and etiquette of employees, and the quality of customer service.
The same goes for dental offices. From the moment patients walk in, they’re deciding if they’re going to get dentistry done at your office, and everything that you do makes an impact on that decision. It’s important for everyone on your team to understand and value this philosophy, and that you review it with the doctor and team on a regular basis. Look at what goes on in your office each day and make sure it is nothing but top notch. Make sure your office is one you would choose for your dental health, one where you would be willing to spend your own hard-earned money.
Let’s look at just one more scenario
You wake up with tooth pain and need to schedule a dental visit ASAP. You’ve been avoiding dentists for a while because of how unpleasant your last visit was. You look online to find a different dentist in your area, and you choose a local office with friendly looking staff featured on the website. Then you cross your fingers while dialing the dental office, hoping they can squeeze you in that day.
The person who answers the phone says you can be seen that day, and her reassuring tone puts you at ease. The paperwork can be done online, so you’re able to complete it at home. When you arrive in the dentist’s waiting room, you’re greeted warmly by the front office staff. A dental assistant comes out to meet you right on time, and you can tell from her caring attitude that you’re going to be comfortable here. Maybe you won’t have to hate going to the dentist after all.
Are you doing everything in your power to make this scenario happen for your patients?
This article first appeared in Dental Assisting & Office Manager Digest. To receive enlightening and helpful articles for assistants and office managers in this monthly e-newsletter, visit dentistryiq.com/subscribe.