Dental Front Desk is a complex job as it not only responds to phone calls but also performs the most crucial job, i.e. getting new customers onboard. There are many factors behind the success of a dental clinic and one of the key factors is an intelligent front desk or a receptionist. Though the repeat visits of old customers contribute towards the revenue sustainability, the growth driver of a dental clinic is the rate by which it can onboard new patients, and an intelligent front desk plays a critical role in acquiring new patients. A receptionist is the face and voice of the clinic as every new customer’s first interaction is always with the front desk.
A First Impression is the Lasting Impression. A patient who is suffering and is possibly not able to perform his daily tasks properly due to his dental pain, will make a first impression about the dental clinic on the basis of his initial interaction with the front desk. He might have limited knowledge and awareness about the services and capabilities of the clinic but in all probabilities his first opinion about the clinic would be formed on the basis of his first communication with the clinic. An accomplished receptionist makes sure that the patient ‘s first experience with the clinic is positive. She knows that unlike existing patients, a first-time patient will not have any loyalty or affinity with the clinic and her professional and friendly approach are the tools which might help the clinic in getting the business.
Dental business is a specialised business and an intelligent receptionist knows about the clinic’s procedures and understands the nuances of the business. A trained professional receptionist will be able to understand a patient’s query and will respond accordingly with the proposed way forward. If the patient gets a feeling of assurance and satisfaction, it will enhance the chance of him getting converted. A high grade specialised training imparted by the domain experts would help the reception team in building the expertise. An efficient front desk executive demonstrates excellent phone and interpersonal skills along with the ability to multitask thus making her an important part of the patient’s journey.
William Arthur Ward said, “A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.” Be it a telephonic call or a walk-in customer, an intelligent front desk executive welcomes every patient with a radiant smile. A sensible receptionist displays genuinely empathetic and compassionate behaviour as a core competency of her job. one usually calls a dental clinic while facing some dental agony, an empathetic response given by the front desk acts like an accueil to the clinic where the patient can get a solution to all his dental problems. A patient is bound to form a positive perception which might not only result in the enquiry getting converted to a confirmed business, but may also result in receiving some strong referrals.
An intelligent and experienced receptionist understands the behaviour of the patient and active listening is one powerful skill which helps her in creating a bond with the customer leading to a successful communication. Patient gets a feel that he was given due attention, was heard and his issues were very well understood by the clinic personnel. Active listening ensures that the patient does not have to reiterate his issues again and again, this also helps in avoiding errors and unintentional harm to the patient.
Time is a limited and precious resource, and an efficient dental clinic receptionist very well understands the value of time management. An effective time management during every communication helps her in enhancing the conversion and thus the productivity of the desk and the clinic. An astute receptionist is able to ask precise and pointed questions at the correct time during a conversation so that the maximum required information can be collected in minimum possible time, without disturbing the flow of the communication. She ensures that the information shared by the patient gets simultaneously fed in the system for future references and treatment purposes.
A smart receptionist is articulate, she understands that since every patient is different, predefined script will not work with all patients. A customized communication is required for every individual patient and therefore after the introductory discussion, an efficient receptionist adapts to the situation and accordingly communicates with the patient. This gives a humane touch to the discussion which results in a better and healthier communication. The patient finds the receptionist to be more empathetic, attentive and honest in the approach thus the front desk executive is able to win the patient’s confidence.
An experienced person handling the front desk understands that handling objections and facing criticism from a few patients is a part and parcel of the job. She remains calm and tries to handle the patient’s objections in an objective and transparent manner. Despite objections and irrational behaviour of a few patients, the intent of every discussion is not to lose a single patient.
Every single missed call can be a missed revenue opportunity for a dental clinic. As per the data, average dental clinics are not able to answer almost one third of the calls from new patients which were initiated through marketing campaigns. A smart receptionist ensures minimum missed calls and in case of a missed call, she calls back immediately so the prospective customer does not get any time to think about the alternate clinic. She understands that most of the new prospective patients will not leave a message or will never call back in case of missed call or even if their call was transferred to a voicemail. Despite working for long hours, she understands that a customer might call during lunch hours also therefore she makes an arrangement to answer a call even during lunch hours. She makes it a point to check enquiries received during holidays, weekends or non-work hours and addresses them on priority so that there is no space for the customer to check with an alternate dental clinic.
No one likes that his call is put on hold and that too for longer minutes, A smart executive of the dental clinic tries to make call hold a rare phenomenon and in extreme situations where there is no other option but to keep the call on hold, the hold time is bare minimum so that the patient doesn’t get lost. With her experience, she understands that once a patient drops during a call, chances of him reaching out to the clinic again would be rare.
A good receptionist has sharp business acumen and therefore her every call has an objective, she tries to fix appointments in each and every call with the prospective patient. In fact if someone calls for issues not related to dental services, she checks for any need of an appointment. She monitors her performance of percentage conversion and any drop in the percentage conversion is checked for the reasons along with the required corrective measures. An intelligent and efficient receptionist ensures effective scheduling so that the wait time for the patient is minimal. She gives a reminder call before the appointment date to get confirmation from the patient about him reaching the clinic on the given date and time. If any patient shows a minor resistance or hesitation, she probes further for the issue faced and promptly helps the patient with the possible solution. If the patient has issues with the time of the appointment, a fresh appointment at a time convenient to the patient and the clinic is offered. If the patient comes up with any financial issue, then a suitable finance option is discussed with the patient. Under no situation, the patient is told an absolute “NO”. If there is an unreasonable demand from the patient, the receptionist tries to make him understand about the challenges with his demand and bring him on terms offered by the clinic.
Emergency is a time when a patient needs the doctor without any delay. This can be a serious situation where a patient is under pain and is vulnerable. Dealing such cases with sensitivity and prompt approach will make him a loyal and permanent patient of the clinic. While tackling an emergency situation, the receptionist displays the sensitive side of her personality and handles the case with kid gloves. She has to be clever enough to understand and segregate a real emergency case with a non-emergency one. Patients might get restless because of minor issues but prioritizing such patients as emergency ones can delay the treatment of a real emergency case. Handling such patients with a soft touch ensures that the patient does not go anywhere and gets onboarded with the clinic.
Today, every business space is crowded and a dental clinic is no different. A good receptionist does regular things differently to help the dental clinic in creating a niche in the competitive market of dental treatment. To ensure patient satisfaction, a receptionist keeps updating her behavioural and professional skills and tries to get best possible support from technology. An intelligent FD has to keeps herself abreast with the latest tech which is relevant to her daily work. She not only uses applications like email clients and office suits effectively, but she is proficient with the complete working knowledge of the database system of the clinic. Though traditional communication mediums like phone and calls are still there but with the advent of new technology, social media has emerged as a preferred mode of communication. She is well versed with the social media platforms and their working and every patient’s query gets resolved with the same attention and enthusiasm, irrespective of the media vehicle he opts for.
An extensive marketing campaign and subsequently converting the customer to business is an expensive affair in the competitive world of dental clinics. Every enquiry is a cost to the clinic and any increase in rate of conversion from enquiry to business immediately adds to the revenue and the bottom line. An intelligent and efficient dental front desk receptionist with her proactive help approach and never say no attitude can help dental clinics with better business conversions and thus higher revenues.