A first impression or a lasting impression. Each outcome could be a reflection of the front desk in your dental practice.
Patient interactions form an initial impression. There’s also an ongoing, sustained impression patients can have as you retain them.
Dentistry is a team effort with a number of touchpoints:
- Provider education, skill and experience.
- Clinical procedures and the support of dental hygienists and dental assistants.
- Your facilities and the overall patient experience you provide.
- The all-important front desk — what’s considered the “face” of your dental practice.
What’s the “face-value”?
The relational value created by your front desk team cannot be underestimated. Scheduling, case acceptance and patient loyalty are rooted in your front desk best practices.
Their role has undeniable value to your dental practice success.
First line of engagement
The phone rings, a message pings the inbox, a live-chat pop-up appears. These reveal what your front desk team is made of.
- Make sure your front desk team is informed and can provide informative answers.
- Set a positive tone during each patient interaction.
First to “care”
A scheduled appointment comes with a person — another human being. Their care begins the moment they walk in your practice door.
- Set a caring, comfortable vibe upon arrival.
- Sense the patient’s mood and emotions prior to the clinical handoff.
First things first
Your front desk has a “linchpin” function. This means they’re key to keeping your operations running smoothly and efficiently.
- Establish role synergy.
- Anticipate what’s next and ensure adequate preparation.
Best practices for a front desk refresh
1 — Staff your front desk for efficiency
You could face one of two front desk dilemmas: not having enough front desk personnel or having too many up front.
Each scenario is worth evaluating.
The size of your practice often determines whether you can maintain efficiency with up to two front desk staff. Or your daily schedule could reveal that you need to hire for increased production and efficient related workflows.
Staffing capabilities trickle down to patient satisfaction.
For example, an understaffed front desk can compromise your core business tasks:
- Scheduling conflicts.
- Billing and A/R issues.
- Delayed collections and insurance reimbursements.
This ultimately impacts the patient experience. To keep your patients’ experiences positive, avoid front desk dilemmas with these strategies:
- Cover your “first-impression” with a skilled receptionist.
- Cover your more detailed tasks with one or more business team members who handle billing, insurance, treatment presentations, etc.
2 — Cross-train your front desk for smooth transitions
“Lack of fluidity is probably one of the most detrimental things that dental offices need to address.” 1
In this instance, think of “fluidity” in contrast to chaos. Your front desk has a lot coming at them throughout the day.
- Phones ringing.
- Treatment plans called for.
- Treatment presentations.
- Insurance questions.
- Emergency triage for patients.
A cross-trained front desk team is better equipped to share the multitude of tasks they’re responsible for.
- Maintain and protect operational productivity.
- Strengthen team culture and workflow balance.
“A knowledgeable, cohesive team with a diverse range of skills will benefit the entire practice, strengthen individual positions, and provide your patients with a better overall experience.” 1
3 — Equip your front desk for improved patient communication
Patient relationships typically begin with a front desk interaction. It could be a phone call, a text or email message, or follow-up on a contact form request.
However patients connect the first and subsequent encounters can have a substantial impact on retaining them. Streamlined communication resources have the potential to equip your front desk team to build loyal patient relationships.
- Implement paperless systems. Electronic dental forms provide patients a convenient option to complete paperwork ahead of their appointment and save them and your team time.
- Provide an online scheduling option. This provides patients a greater sense of control over their care, and it helps reduce team scheduling stress.
- Create and automate patient follow-up communication. Automated emails and text messages can help reduce the amount of reminder calls, returned calls from voice messages and no-shows.
There’s a lot going on at your dental practice’s front desk. Support their role with effective and proven tools as well as the data that helps build loyal patient relationships.
Check out the following resources that can help you better equip your team — including your front desk:
Support your front desk with proven data analytic tools
The Jarvis Analytics platform helps ensure that you’re tracking the important metrics and staying on track with your goals as your dental practice or DSO grows and expands.
Experience Jarvis Analytics in action. Request a demo today!