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Anyone who has worked as a receptionist at some point in his or her life knows that the first impression the front desk and office gives a customer can be a deal-maker or breaker. A new customer may very well walk out and find somewhere else to go if they dont like the environment of a dental office.

However, the first impression isn’t all that matters. Trying to understand the whole process of booking, attending, and leaving an appointment from a clients perspective can help professionals understand how to better build and maintain relationships with new clients.

The First Impression: In the Waiting Area

It is crucial to hire friendly receptionists who can maintain politeness, even in stressful situations. Make sure the receptionist greets the patient warmly, communicates all information clearly, and directs him or her to the waiting area. If the client feels they can ask the receptionist questions without feeling awkward, the appointment will go much smoother.

While it is ideal to keep the office running smoothly and on time, we all know that sometimes unavoidable delays happen, causing multiple appointments to run behind. While this is frustrating, make sure to keep a friendly and patient attitude with all incoming patients.

If a new patient feels they are not important or cared about in the office, they may not come back. Most patients understand that sometimes delays are unavoidable, and wont mind waiting a few extra minutes to begin their appointment. However, it is very helpful to let the patient know and set any expectations regarding wait time. It is best to give an honest estimate.

Additionally, try to make your front office, and your exam rooms and hallways, a warm and welcoming environment. Choose relaxing but interesting music and a comforting and happy color scheme to help assuage the fears of those who may be experiencing anxiety about their visit. If patients feel comfortable before they even meet their dentist, they will go into the experience with a positive attitude rather than a critical one.

Introducing the Dentist and the Patient

When it’s time to go to the exam room, after calling the patients name, take a moment before walking back to shake their hand, introduce yourself and talk a bit about their visit.

Dentists offices can be confusing, and often new patients are simply taken through a maze of rooms then left to sit in a chair while waiting for the dentist, feeling rushed and confused. Starting out on a calm, friendly note can make all the difference in influencing new patients to become regulars.

It doesnt take very much time to simply say a few sentences about yourself and your background, and ask a question or two about them. It is much easier to establish a friendly rapport at the beginning rather than when the patient is in the chair and you are working with their teeth. In fact, holding a conversation while in the dentists chair can feel forced, awkward, and uncomfortable for many people. Plus, making people feel comfortable before their appointment can help with dental-related anxieties they may be experiencing.

Many people avoid going to the dentist out of fear, and by having a friendly team, you can help them feel confident going to the dentist, ultimately leading to better care and healthier teeth.

Establishing Lasting Relationships

The most successful dentists interact with and know their clients on a personal level. If you make an effort to get to know your patients, they will feel more comfortable coming back to you than going to a stranger. The key is to make the patient feel like they can trust you, for example by warning them when they will possibly feel pain, being honest about your opinion on needed versus unnecessary services, and other important aspects of the patient-dentist relationship.

You must be careful not to ask too many personal questions or risk making the patient feel uncomfortable. Conversely, a cold demeanor makes many people uncomfortable and anxious; patients like dentists who are calm, steady, humorous, and kind. Maintaining a balance of professionalism and friendliness can be difficult, but it will pay off in the long run by helping you maintain consistent clients, as well as recommendations to their friends and family, year after year

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