Dental Office Manager

3 things the front desk should never say to dental patients

Aug. 21, 2017
The front office team of your dental practice should always make a good impression on patients. This includes not saying a few key phrases that might affect patients the wrong way.

The front office team of your dental practice should always make a good impression on patients. This includes not saying a few key phrases that might rub patients the wrong way.


This article originally appeared in the Principles of Practice Management e-newsletter. Subscribe to this informative twice monthly practice management ENL here.

“TALK IS CHEAP,” as the saying goes. But not really. In fact, how your front desk team communicates with patients has a profound impact on every system in the practice. Good communication fosters a strong practice-patient bond and ensures a well-run office. Conversely, saying the wrong thing can damage patient relationships and undermine practice performance.

For example, bad customer service, as evidenced by a team member’s poor verbal skills, may disappoint some patients and drive others away. But it doesn’t stop there, especially today. If you or anyone on your team has managed to anger a patient through poor communication, that person may take to social media to blast your practice.

Here are three verbal misses that front desk team members should never say to patients.

1. “Our policy is …”

This is inflexible bureaucratic language that will be sure to infuriate patients. A better alternative is something like, “What we have found that works best for our patients is …” The first statement enforces compliance, while the second one asks for cooperation based on “what works best.” Patients will respond much better to the second approach.

2. “Sure, we can bill you.”

As a practice, you want to eliminate billing as much as possible. If patients say they don’t have their checkbook, the response should be, “We can put today’s charge on your credit or debit card. Which would you prefer?” Nearly everyone has a debit or credit card. This statement is a nice way of saying payment is expected at the time of service.

3. “If it were me, I wouldn’t do that.”

After a case presentation, especially for elective treatment or large cases, patients might run it by the front desk for a second opinion. As a team member, you always want to validate the doctor’s recommendations. Never put yourself in a position where you disagree with the dentist.

Our words matter, especially in conversations with patients. Avoiding these three verbal blunders will help front desk team members deliver excellent customer service to patients.

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Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the chairman and CEO of Levin Group Inc., a leading dental consulting firm. A nationally recognized speaker, Dr. Levin presents practice management seminars throughout the country.