Dental Front Office Check-In Process
Dental front office check-in processes are crucial. We want the best experience for our patients. And we also want the best systems for the dental front office team. Yes, there is a system to this process. Get this system down, and we provide the best possible customer service experience we can.
Your “Hello” is the second most important part of the appointment. So, let’s treat it with the value that it has. There’s no turning back! We cannot go back and get it right the second time. Your “Hello” needs to be spot on as soon as the front door opens! Let’s get ready. And to get ready, we must be prepared!
Review Your Schedule 2 Weeks Ahead
Know who is on the schedule. There should be no surprises on the hygiene or restorative schedule. Take the time to review the schedule 2 weeks ahead. Be sure all your ducks are in a row… so to speak.
Are hygiene appointments correct? Are there any patients who shouldn’t be on the schedule? Is there someone who you got in a short notice call list? Or maybe a patient who was just seen last month? How did that happen? It does!
Is everything correct on the restorative schedule? Is there still a crown seat scheduled for that patient you just sent out for an endo referral? Does that appointment need to be moved? Are there patients with balances that need to be addressed?
Finalize The Day Before
Prepare final schedules the day before. You’ve seen these scheduled appointments now for a couple of weeks. The appointments have been confirmed. Make any notes for patients that you still need information from or an update on.
Note any necessary medical history updates. Or maybe you print them the day before. Prepare ahead as much as you can.
Are there any financial discussions to have? Is there a credit or a balance on a patient’s account? Any insurance questions or unresolved insurance claims? Now is the time to make yourself and the team aware.
Best Dental Front Office Check-In
Enthusiasm & Warmth
The best check-in experience is what you want! Okay just doesn’t cut it. You want your patient to feel appreciation the second your front door opens. This is something that is so easy to do. Once you get it down, it will just come naturally. And you won’t have to think about it at all. Remember, your “hello” is the second most important piece of this appointment!
Look up when the door opens. Yes, I do have to say this. Because it’s so very important. Think about the places you like to go. Why do you like to go there? Because you are greeted and treated exceptionally well. So, look up and smile! No matter what else is going on. You can even wave if you are unable to speak. Maybe you are on the phone. Or with another patient. Still, you can look up and smile!
Handshakes or a simple touch take it up a notch! I stand when a patient walks in the door. Step towards the patient. Smile. Reach out a hand. Extend warmth and friendship. Keep it simple, sweet, and sincere. Make eye contact. And if you need to practice with your team to get everyone on board, that’s okay too. It can even be fun.
Greet & Gather Information
As soon as you can, greet your patient by name. If you don’t know the person who has walked in the door, investigate. “Hello, how can I help you today?” This person may not be scheduled for an appointment at all. It could be a potential new patient who has come in to see if they want an appointment with you. It’s best not to assume they have an appointment.
Then, invite your patient to review their account with you. “Let’s see if we need to update anything for you today”. This is the time to review the address and account information in your software system for the patient. “Any changes for you?” isn’t good enough. Patients don’t know what you have for information on them.
Read aloud what you have on file for your patient. “PO Box 243 in Gasquet, California?” .. and wait for their response. “Delta Dental through Tom?”.. and wait for their response again. ” And it looks like your cell number is how we are confirming.. 999-999-9999. Is this still the best way to reach you?”. Changes happen quickly today in our fast changing world. Try to include these updates as part of a casual and friendly conversation.
Dental Front Office Check-Out
As important as the dental front office check-in systems are, check-out is even more important! And this part of the patient’s appointment is the most important piece of the entire experience!! There is no fixing your “good-bye”. Everything in between the “hello” and the “good-bye” can be fixed. Your “good-bye” leaves a lasting impression.
Every patient gets a great “good-bye”. No matter what. Even if the dental hygienist schedules their next hygiene visit. And even if there is no balance to collect. Every patient gets a great “good-bye” at the dental front office. Hopefully, your patient arrives at the front desk like this.. “Mrs. Jones is scheduled for her next 2 hygiene appointments with me. April, if you could please just double-check that for me. She did need an additional x-ray today of #. That should also be posted to her chart. Along with her perio-maintenance visit and exam. Thank you Mrs. Jones. I’ll see you next time.”
The dental front office team reviews charges and appointments. One more set of eyes on scheduled appointments doesn’t hurt anything! Catching one small mistake now can avoid huge schedule disasters later! Review posted charges and those totals with the patient. “Mrs. Jones, your total today is $210.00. I will send your claim to Delta Dental. Your estimated portion is $21.00 please.”
What If Mrs. Jones Forgot Her Wallet?
How do we balance our business needs with customer service? It gets tricky sometimes. “Oh no. Can you believe I left my credit card in my other coat? I left it there yesterday!”. It happens. And we can honestly do both.
The key is to be kind and keep control. Don’t hand control over to Mrs. Jones here. Very kindly offer to call Mrs. Jones later for her payment. “Okay. Well.. I can call you later today. What would be a good time for me to call you? We can take your payment over the phone. Is your cell number best? Okay. I’ll make a note to call you today at 4:30.”
Be sure to follow through. Make a note on your schedule to call Mrs. Jones at 4:30. And if you don’t reach her, leave a message. Then try again. Maintain warmth and kindness even if you need to call more than once.
A warm “good-bye” sends your very satisfied patient on their way. If you make a new appointment for your patient, review the details. Be sure to discuss any expected out-of-pocket expenses. Also, let your patient know how long the appointment is. People have busy schedules. And finally ask them to call the office if they need to reschedule their appointment. Make eye contact as you ask for 2 business days’ notice to reschedule.
Set up any referrals to specialists. Make that call for your patient. Help them with any questions or concerns they have. Take the time to provide your patient with a copy of a printed referral. They will appreciate having information they can reference later. Your patient may also like directions or a map to help them find the specialist’s office.
Now is the time to shine! “It was great to see you today, Mrs. Jones”. Say your farewell with all your heart. Make the investment. A fabulous farewell is a stepping stone to a stronger relationship. Stronger patient relationships hurdle many possible problems. Stronger patient relationships make for a better dental day. And we all want the best day we can have!