You are the face of the business. You are the first person potential patients’ encounter when considering making an appointment. You are the voice over the phone, the smile at the desk and the encourager at the other end of an email. If you want to flood your office with patients excited about health and wellness, make sure you and your team knows how to make a first impression that truly represents your doctor, your practice and you.
- Be a problem solver
If you want to succeed in maximizing new patient flow, you must see yourself as more than a secretary. You are the epicenter of the practice. You must be able to multitask and problem solve, whether it be an issue with the schedule or a patient’s child. No task is too big or too small, so be prepared.
- Know more than they think you will
You are the hub of the office. Make sure you can answer any question that comes your way. Take pride in knowing about clinical offerings, procedures, products and insurance. If you are well-informed and helpful, patients will know they can and will be taken care of when they come to see you. Additionally, it is your responsibility to ask questions normally reserved for the medical team. Ask patients about their medical history and have a written record of their response. Your investment in the patient’s health shows you are an integral part of the wellness system in the office.
- Be excited
Your energy is contagious. Smile when you answer the phone, smile when a person walks in to the office and tell each and every person you are excited they are choosing your office. It is a privilege when someone trusts you with their health, treat them that way.
- Be truly happy in your job
People can tell when you are faking it. If you have issues with co-workers, are angry about your pay or feel taken advantage of by your doctor—patients will know. Check your issues at the door so you can be authentically happy during your day. Your patients will truly want to be a part of your office if they know you are sincere.
- Be a people person
Be engaging. Consider yourself the host(ess) of the office. People are uncomfortable when coming into or calling an office for the first time; it is your job to reach out and make them feel welcome. If they are coming in for the first time, look them in the eyes and tell them you are happy they are there. If they are on the phone, let them know you cannot wait to meet them. Pay attention to your
tone of voice when speaking on a call. Give them your full attention. If you are distracted or flustered they will not have the experience they deserve from a wellness center.
- Ask questions
One of the most important things you can know about a new patient is why they are coming into the office. So, ask them: “What is your most important consideration when choosing a doctor?” Write down their reason, and communicate that to the rest of the team. In addition, respect their privacy by getting permission to confirm their appointment and to remind them of paperwork to bring. You should also ask for permission to contact their medical provider (if necessary) to ensure quality collaborative treatment.
The most important opinion in the office is the patient’s. Therefore, you must know what matters to them. If it is insurance (which it often is) let them know you will help them maximize all of their benefits for treatment; both dental and medical. If you truly hear them, you will truly offer them personalized service. Make sure you document everything the patient says to you. Then, during the exam, the doctor or hygiene team can demonstrate that everything the patient says is important by stating: “I understand X is important to you, and you wanted to make sure we knew about it.” This is fundamental in providing the type of care that is expected of a wellness center.
Your job is hard. You wear many hats throughout the day. It is important to be able to prioritize certain things over others in order to maximize your time and office production. New patients are the lifeblood of the office; therefore nearly everything else should take a back seat when a new patient is on the phone. Research shows that the longer you are on the phone with a new patient the higher the acceptance of treatment. Figure out a way to clue the entire team in on the type of call you are taking (use a colored form, change the image on your computer screen etc.) to indicate who you are talking to and that you cannot be interrupted.
- Be a cheerleader
When patients are asking questions about services it is your job to be a cheerleader for your team. Compliment the hygiene team on their knowledge. Make sure the patient knows they have taken extra courses in order to provide the best service. Praise your doctor. Make sure the patient knows he or she is the best, and that his or her primary concern is the health and wellness of each patient. Your enthusiasm and complimentary words will stick with patients and give them the experience they desire.
- Be thankful
When it is time to get off a call or send a patient out the door, thank them. Tell them you appreciate their trust. If you are thankful, they will feel valued and be more likely to refer other patients to your practice. If they come in as a referral, be sure to thank the person who sent them to see you. There is no doubt about it, the front desk communication is critical to the success or failure of a dental wellness center. Doctors, team members and front office staff must realize its value to ensure patients get the experience they deserve when they call, email or walk into the practice.