By Julie Parker, Julie Parker Practice Success

It has always been obvious that a great receptionist improves the environment of any business and a bad one will be highly likely to have a damaging affect. However our awareness around the high level of influence our receptionists has requires deeper contemplation.

Dental practices know their receptionist plays an important role in creating a calming environment for their dental patients, allowing them to feel confident in their practice of choice, faith in the dental team and comfortable in the knowledge they are receiving a high standard of care in a professional environment. This same positive influence over the practice’s environment also plays an important role for the dental team members, and their level of happiness and effectiveness.

Therefore the role of ‘receptionist’ warrants a closer look. There is a meaningfulness and importance to this role that all engaged receptionists should embrace and feel very proud of.

Whether it is acknowledged by team members or not, the receptionist of a dental practice is THE LINK between the patient being outside the walls of the practice, not addressing their dental health, and those patients being in your practice dental chair receiving treatment.

There are many steps that need to take place before a patient is lying back in the dental chair and many are performed the receptionist.

Think of a patient who is anxious and wavering in their decision to make their follow up appointment. An unengaged receptionist will not have a purpose or goal in this communication with the patient. They know they will be paid whether the patient books the follow up appointment or not. They also know their relevance within the practice will remain the same regardless of whether the patient books their next appointment. The chances of this receptionist achieving consistently high levels of success in their management of the appointment book are very low.

Compare this scenario to one with an engaged receptionist. A receptionist who is keenly aware that their level of communication skills, and effectiveness in providing the patient with the needed support and care, will generate high level results again and again.

An engaged receptionist understands the responsibility they possesses in ensuring a health-compromised patient actually achieves dental treatment. They also honour the role they play in building and maintaining the credibility of each dentist and the practice as a whole. Engaged receptionists will execute their roles with actions and decisions that are based upon a personal philosophy to care about what they do. This impacts situations such as:

  • The patient’s adoption and completion of treatment to achieve oral health/li>
  • Assisting the dentists’ goal/agenda to build faith in them in the patients and faith in the practice
  • Helping nurses and support staff by being mindful of the demands they experience throughout the day and scheduling effectively

But also it is imperative for receptionists to acknowledge their influence extends directly to:

  • The dentists’ ability to strengthen their career development, as they are dependent upon the number of new patients being booked in with them and they are reliant upon the bookings of their returning patients
  • The business’ success, through their effectiveness in booking patients appropriately, in the most effective and productive way, their successful collection of fees and their support and encouragement of the practice’s policies and values.

Receptionists need to artfully maneuver around what is ‘popular’ or ‘desired’ by unrealistic patient expectations, staff members who will sometimes want to have an ‘easy’ day and bosses who may be inclined to sway from the practice vision and culture due to lack of commitment or tiredness. The receptionist is often quite unconsciously seen as the ‘guide’ of how things are done, how hard to work and how high the standards should be kept.

The dental industry is only a few industries where a support role employee holds such a large influence, and therefore responsibility, over the effectiveness and success of the ‘producers’ (i.e. the dentist and their nurses). For those people attracted to this profession of dental receptionist, for those who choose to perform their role with the care, the attention, the integrity that it requires, They should approach their daily duties with the STRENGTH to make the right decisions regardless of external pressures, with RESPECT for all of those who depend upon them to do the right thing at all times, and with immense PRIDE that, through their commitment to their philosophy and that of the practice, they are enabling the people around them and the business they work for to achieve greater levels of success than if they were not there supporting them.

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