Why We Smile – Making a Positive Impression on Our Patients
It is not a myth, but a fact that people are afraid of us (well, our boss that is.)
At our prosthodontic office, we see a lot of “old school” patients who didn’t have positive dental experiences as a child or young adult.
I am often amazed at the sheer terror I see in some of our older patients when they come into our office, after not having seen a dentist in decades.
It’s our job to turn that fear around.
Remember: “You only get one chance to make a good first impression.”
That’s why we smile (even when we don’t feel like it!).
Making a great first impression
Our first impression is usually a phone call or referral from a friend or another doctor. The patient hasn’t even walked into our practice to see how amazing we are.
So how do we help patients feel comfortable when they call us for the first time?
I find answering the phone with a clear and cheery voice puts most patients at ease.
Over the years, I’ve learned that the best way to start on the right foot is to answer the phone with an enthusiastic “Hello, this is Dr. Kaylakie’s office, Jennifer speaking.”
No matter how you’re feeling, when you answer the phone, do it with a smile in your voice.
We as front desk goddesses sometimes forget that regardless of how our day is going, the patient on the phone has no idea.
That’s why we smile.
Your patients should always think you’re having a GREAT DAY!
Showing compassion in emergencies
Many patients call because they have an emergency.
When a clear and calm voice comes through the phone, it will put most patients at ease.
Once you know who is on the line, let them talk. In times of crisis and high emotions, you need to just listen.
At that moment, the patient believes their dental treatment is the most important thing in the world.
Unfortunately, this can sometimes make them difficult to communicate and work with.
But remember – “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”
Practicing deep empathy and compassion…Opens in a new tab to an article about empathy in healthcare… will likely yield better outcomes for everyone.
This approach will help you guide your patient to an appointment that gets them the care they need AND works best for the office schedule.
Creating a welcoming first office visit
Now that you’ve booked your new patient for an appointment, it’s time to get them into the office for the best first encounter.
Always have someone at the front desk to greet guests personally.
Great teamwork can help here.
We only have six employees in our office, and only one of us is a front desk person (me). I make sure one of my assistants or the hygienist covers if I need to step away.
Again, you only get one chance at a first impression.
Put yourself in your patients’ shoes
Ever notice how many medical doctor’s offices are cold and uninviting?
Half the time, the front desk is rude, short, and dismissive. If I walk up to ask how much longer I’m going to have to wait, I get a brush off response.
When our patients are in the waiting room, I try to remember how I feel when that happens.
If we’re running late, I let our patients know, and then I offer them some coffee or water.
If it’s going to be too long, I give our patients the choice to reschedule or not.
I try my best to treat our patients as I would like to be treated in the same situation.
Sometimes just a sincere smile and listening to them can make their day.
This entire experience can be the difference between their final case acceptance or not.
So the next time you step into the office – Remember why we smile!
Meet the Author
Jennifer is a former U.S. Army medic with over 25 years of administrative experience. She received her FAADOM in 2019 and is Chapter President of AADOM Austin. When Jenn has spare time, you can find her working with metals and creating art pieces in her home studio. She and her husband Bob enjoy being parents to several fur babies.