"Won’t Be Too Long. Just Take A Seat."

Sometimes I cannot believe what goes on in dental offices.

Some of the behaviors and operations I see surprise me as being OK or accepted practice, in what should be for our customers and patients, a warm caring customer service experience.

It’s not that staff, or team members at the Dental Office behave ignorantly and rudely on purpose. It’s just, that I believe they don’t know or haven’t been taught any other way to behave, that’s all.

Recently I visited an office where I saw this scenario unfold. Now I don’t believe the two team members are bad people. I just believe that nobody has taken the time to explain to them a better way.

Here’s the scenario. Two front office team members, sitting at a reception desk about three or four metres apart. Early morning. Client lounge in front of them has one patient, waiting on the doctor to write a referral. The two receptionists are discussing their weekends, out loud, within earshot of the customer, who is not invited to the conversation.

A new person, a patient with an appointment, enters the office. His greeting, from one receptionist is

“Won’t be too long. Just take a seat”

And then she and her colleague return immediately to their social conversation…

What’s wrong here and how could this be improved?

Firstly, the team members need to understand the social conversation they are having instead of working, is on paid time. This is wrong! We’ll discuss this in more depth in future posts…

Secondly, the first patient should be being entertained by the two team members. The front office team members’ role is to socialize with him, as it is his business, or his treatment, that pays their wages. Every patient wears an invisible sign that reads “*Make Me Feel Special!*”

Thirdly, when the second patient entered the dental office, one team member should have left the discussion (that wasn’t happening) with the first patient and attended to, and started visiting with the newly arrived patient.

We want our patients to feel special. We want them to be raving fans. We want that when they need to have dental work done, that our office is the one they call.

We don’t want to feel like our front desk is like the Post Office…or the Bank!

Imagine how special each of these patients would have felt if a front office team member had conversed with the, or offered them some coffee or refreshment? Surely this would have been a much better scenario….

Team members need to ask themselves these Questions…

  1. Is what I’m doing now helping to build relationships with patients, or is it sending the patient a poor message about this office?
  2. Is what I’m doing now, so important, or can I put it aside and talk to and engage with my customer right now?
  3. If I was paying me, would I be happy with what me was doing, or would I ask me to do something different, or differently?
  4. If I was the customer/patient, how would I feel about this business witnessing the behavior in front of me right now?

Two simple thoughts for team members to consider:

  1. 130/38 rule
    There are 168 hours in the week. 38 hours are paid for by our employer. 130 are unpaid. Is what I’m doing right now an activity that my employer should be paying for? Or is it an activity that belongs in the 130 side of the equation? With respect to this activity, would my employer be happy or unhappy seeing me performing this activity on the 38 side of the equation?
  2. Is what I’m doing right now improving someone’s day, or not? And if it’s not, then what can I do right now to change that!!

Have your team members discuss these thoughts and comments and see what they think, see if they can change for the betterment of patient, practice and team.

You’ll find that when your dental office staff members make this switch to being patient-centered, then your business will improve markedly, and remarkably.

The beauty of this is…it’s not ROCKET SCIENCE!! Give it a go!

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