By Madeline Miller
Those within the dentistry profession may have noticed that the service doesn’t always promote positive reactions in people. The cliché is that a trip to the dentist is something to be feared.
This may be an over-embellishment, but the pervading reputation is clear. The narrative needs to be changed, and dental practices can take ownership of changing that reputation.
And it all starts with the dental practice reception – the welcoming arena for those on a trip to the dentist. The atmosphere and environment created by reception is the first impression patients will get on the trip to the dentist, so it needs to be a good one. Here are some key tips to making your practice a welcoming place.
Create a welcoming environment
Cold and clinical colors don’t radiate warmth, so things can easily be changed by adding a bit of color, and having soft furnishings that add warmth and friendliness to the environment will go a long way to setting visitors at ease.
Avoid silence if at all possible, so have a bit of music playing gently in the background, and provide an array of magazines and newspapers for the adults, and a collection of toys and games for younger visitors to the practice. Think carefully about what makes a welcoming atmosphere, and you will quickly understand that it is the small touches, rather than the grand gestures, which do this.
Hire warm and welcoming staff
Many people who visit the dentist do so on edge. So, what is the last thing they want to be faced with that reception staff who show no empathy to their unease.
A welcoming smile and kind words upon arrival make a huge difference, as it does in any service profession, so make sure you are not missing out on repeat customers by not having reception staff who are welcoming and friendly in their dealings with patients. Training can be provided, of course, but these considerations should be built into your recruitment processes too.
Phone manner is just as important, because if this manner is abrupt and cold, then you may fail to attract the patient through the door in the first place. This issue is regularly cited as a major contributing factor in customer retention, so don’t underestimate the importance of having staff who get what it means to be working in a dental practice. Yes, you are a medical service, but putting your patients at ease should be among your highest priorities.
Provide flexible payment options
Dental care is expensive for people, so give them options to make those payments. Not only are many people uneasy on a trip to the dentist, but they are also fearful that it’s going to break the bank, so be extremely up front with costs too, and have total transparency in the cost of various services, itemizing bills and providing flexible options to make repayments. In short, be understanding of different patients’ needs. Consider that paying up front is not an option for everybody, so offer solutions that work for as many people as possible.
Use an effective scheduling system
One of the bugbears of patients is that they can arrive at the practice for their appointment, only then finding themselves having to wait for an hour. Nothing puts people on edge like this, and certainly won’t help in retaining patients. The first thing to do is make sure you employ an effective scheduling system, and don’t try to pack patients in too tightly. You may think you are making more money this way, but the bottom will soon fall out of your business when your reputation of rushing the job and leaving people waiting gets around.
Instead, allocate plenty of time between appointments, automate your system with automatic text alerts to let patients know if you are running behind schedule, and train your staff in how to effectively deal with patients who find themselves having to wait. All of this helps greatly in retaining business.
Madeline Miller is a health writer at Paper fellows and Boomessays Reviews with a particular interesting in the art of communication. She is a regular writing contributor at Assignment writing service.
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