Greeting Multiple Dental Patients
Greeting multiple dental patients at the same time is what we do at the dental front desk. And it’s a skill to master. Because this is a task we face throughout our dental office day. And a critical piece of what shapes our patient relationships.
So, let’s bring the importance of this task to the entire team. And maybe add this to your next team meeting agenda. Ask the team how patient greetings are going. And if there are any challenges the team can work on to improve this area of the patient experience. After all, this is the second most important patient conversation we have. It’s true!
Multiple Points of Contact
We often experience ringing phones as a new patient approaches the front desk. We also may experience a patient transfer from a treatment room to the front desk during a phone conversation. Or perhaps we already have a patient at the front desk as another approaches. How do we best handle each one of these greetings? And how do we best meet every patient’s needs for a great greeting? All at the same time?
Fortunately, we have many ways to communicate with our patients. Our eyes, our ears, our words and our smiles are our best tools. We may need to wave, nod, hold up a finger or even ask a patient to hold. However, we also want to train the entire team to manage and support our patients and team members well. Remember, we are a team!
Greeting Multiple Dental Patients Better
Greeting multiple dental patients as a team improves with discussion. So, this week, we take a look at the Dental Customer Service Systems Course. This online course is a strong way to begin the conversation with your dental office team members. Print individual units and use as starting point in weekly team meetings or a morning huddle reminder.
Multi-Tasking: The Dental Front Desk Octopus is the unit we reference this week. And as we work our way through the year, week by week, I invite you to purchase a Membership and join us.
The Dental Front Desk Octopus!
How many times a day does a patient arrive for their appointment, and the dental front office team is on the phone or talking with a patient that may be checking-in or checking out? It’s just part of our dental front desk day!
This particular stressor can drain all the energy from the most efficient office team member. And that’s because we expend our energy in so many different places a the same time when this happens.
A larger dental practice may have more of an administrative team to manage the front office area. However, even with a team of people at the front desk, there may still may be times when a team member feels “spent”.
What is the best way to manage this daily situation?
The Office Phones
Let’s consider a situation where we are on the phone and a patient walks into the practice. It’s important to recognize your patient that has just arrived. A smile and a wave are a great start! Even holding up a finger and a nod may be just enough. And your patient may take a seat and wait for you with a hand gesture that encourages your patient to have a seat!
However, a patient may insist on coming to the desk and stand in front of you to check in. If this is the case, it’s important to ask the caller on the line if they are able to hold for a brief moment. “Excuse me, Mr. Smith. I have just had a patient come to the desk here. Would you be able to hold for just a brief moment, please? Or would you prefer that I call you back?”
It may be our phone call was coming to a close. Don’t rush your “good-bye” with the call. This is an important part of your conversation. In fact, our “good-bye” is even more important than our “hello”. If a hold is necessary to end the call properly, we want to ask permission first.
Once the call is on hold, take a moment to greet your patient in front of you with warmth & enthusiasm. Address your patient by name once they have introduced themselves, “Hi John! Good to see you.” Then gather whatever information you need to update and invite your patient to have a seat.
Now, let’s return to the call on hold. Be sure to thank the caller for their patience. And again, be sure to address the caller by name when you do thank them. “Thank you so much, Mrs. Smith, for your patience. Now.. where were we?”
Greeting Multiple Dental Patients: The Line
What about those moments when there is already a patient standing at the front desk, and another patient walks in. They may have an appointment or a question of some kind. Let’s also say there isn’t anyone else at the front desk area to help greet guests. It’s still very important that each and every guest who enters the building is greeted.
It’s not rude to interrupt your conversation with the patient at the desk if you handle it well. “Excuse me just one moment, Jan” is a polite way to hold on the conversation in progress. Then without going into a whole new conversation with the patient who has just appeared, simply smile, wave, and let your guest know you will be with them in just a moment.
If you know the patient who has just arrived, and you know they have a scheduled appointment, it’s great to acknowledge that now. ‘Good morning Sam! Good to see you! I’ll let Dr. Brown know you are here.” And then we can return to the patient at the desk.
As always, the basic guidelines are to be courteous and polite. Acknowledge everyone. And keep smiling!
Avoid phrases like “Who’s checking in?” and “Your name?” We want to greet everyone as a friend and a welcome guest. Even when multi-tasking. Breathe and smile. Stay calm and centered. In those crazy moments, we can bring our calm and centered energy to smooth out the bumps.
Patients transition from a ringing phone line to us. Patients also transition from the outside world into our physical building and space. And we also see patients transition from a treatment room to the front desk. Each and every patient in transition is a greeting opportunity.
Perhaps it is a simple wave and a nod for patients who are in our building. And for patients who are on the phone, we want to avoid a voicemail or “Please Hold” greeting. And how do we know who comes first?
Who Comes First?
Everyone comes first! Every patient is just as important as another. However, let’s greet each patient in the order that they come to us. Ringing phones are answered. Patients who walk to the front desk are greeted. And all in the order they appear. Although we may need to ask a patient to wait for just one moment, we can greet them, address them by name, and provide assurance we will be right with them.
Remember, stay calm and confident. And remember to breathe. Breathing is something we often don’t think about. But brings us a centered feeling we need in times of stress. In fact, we may even find we feel less stress when we remember to really breathe.