Who do your patients first interact with at your practice? When they walk in and when they call, they’re often interacting first and directly with your front desk team. Your front desk staff is the heart of your practice. From answering the phones to getting patients to schedule appointments with you, the front desk is vital to your practice’s success.
People often think that the front desk is only responsible for scheduling appointments over the phone and checking people in when they arrive. However, we all know the responsibilities of the front desk go far beyond that. The team you have sitting in this position could be what is making or breaking your business.
Here are three reasons why your front desk team is an important asset.
They Are Your First Line of Contact
When someone calls your business, the first voices they hear are of those who occupy the front desk. This could be considered one of the most important jobs in your practice because they can help you get patients in the door or send them to a competitor.
For example, if someone calls your practice asking if you do a certain procedure, it’s important your team member knows how to answer quickly and efficiently. If they tell the patient they’re not sure about that procedure and would need to find out, that is essentially telling the patient that you must not perform that procedure often enough and they need to go elsewhere for that service.
Further, if the team member who answers the phone isn’t positive and happy, you will have a hard time getting patients in for appointments. Everyone has bad days. But if a new patient who isn’t familiar with your staff calls and gets someone on the other line who is in a bad mood, they might hesitate making or keeping an appointment with your practice.
They Have a Role in Patient Care
Even though they’re not the dentist or a dental hygienist, your front desk staff plays a role in patient care beyond scheduling their appointments. Since they are the first people your patients see when they walk in, this part of your team also plays a critical role in making your patient feel comfortable in your practice.
Take the time to teach your entire team how to interact properly with your patients and how to make them feel comfortable from the moment they walk in the door. Also, teach your team how to respond to patients in different scenarios.
If they notice a patient is showing signs of dental anxiety or phobia, for instance, teach them what they can do and say to make the patient feel more at ease. If they’re dealing with a patient who is having a dental emergency, make sure your team knows how to keep them comfortable as they get them back into your dental chair.
They Keep Your Office Organized and Running
The front desk team often encompasses a few different roles such as receptionist, front desk coordinator, and even office assistant. All of these roles work together to keep your office running efficiently.
In addition to helping patients come in, your front desk should be helping you as the dentist makes sure everything is in order for you and the patient to make each appointment go as seamlessly as possible. They should be partially responsible for keeping the practice organized and patient charts up to date as well.
When you have a front desk do these things, it will streamline the efficiency of your day-to-day operations. If your front desk isn’t helping keep your office running in this manner, it is time to redefine what that role’s job description is at your practice.
Train Your Front Desk Team Properly
If you want a front desk team who knows how to respond to different scenarios and keeps an upbeat attitude, you have to train them to do so. When you have a new hire, it’s important to outline the role and make it clear what your expectations are.
First, test them on different scenarios. Teach them how to respond to a patient who could be scared, upset, or in another mood that could be difficult to know how to respond to.
Next, make sure they know everything you’re trained to do. As they are the ones who answer the phones and make appointments, they should know exactly what treatments you offer. While they don’t need to know how the procedures are performed, it is important for them to know their names and general descriptions just in case a patient calls and asks.
Finally, teach them how to manage your area. If you want your office to run efficiently, teach your team how things should be organized and how charts should be done to make your day-to-day run smoothly.
Who you have sitting at your front desk needs to know that they have one of the most important roles within your dental practice. As someone who talks with every single patient who walks through your door, it is not a job to be taken lightly.
Dr. Berry, a native of West Virginia, graduated dental school from West Virginia University. He excelled in the clinic and participated in the honors program, helping underclassmen. After dental school, he worked in a small Texas town, treating all types of people. As a member of the Army National Guard, he has undertaken humanitarian dental trips to Nicaragua and the Navajo Nation as well as several other areas of need. Now, Dr. Berry maintains his practice, Mountain Aire Dentistry, in Broomfield, Colorado.