How would you like to be a patient in either of these practices:
I walked into a practice recently and it was very nicely appointed. There were a couple of well-groomed receptionists sitting behind the front desk. I stood in the doorway for a moment, deciding whether to go in and ask for a business card. No one looked up. Finally, I went over to the desk and interrupted one of them from what she was typing in the computer and asked for a card. With a bit of a disgruntled attitude, she gave me one. She never asked who I was or why I wanted one…didn’t try to look after me at all. For all she knew, I could have become a new patient of the practice if she had greeted me warmly and with care and attention.
On another occasion, I walked into a practice and there was a “ding dong” bell sound, but there was no one at the front at all. The walls were wood paneled and the carpet very old and there were uncomfortable looking chairs in the waiting area. I waited a bit and then walked out. I don’t even know if anyone was in the practice at all, though it was unlocked and the lights were on.
The answer to my question above is “probably not,” right? The person you entrust your business to the most is the person who meets and greets your patients (and potential patients), and welcomes them into your practice. She or he is the “face of your practice” and can affect the success of your business.
Not only are your front desk staff ambassadors of your practice in terms of meeting and greeting and being helpful to one and all who come in the door, they are also the voice of the practice when people phone in.
Most staff you hire are well-meaning and want to do good for the practice. Hiring someone with experience is often beneficial but keep in mind, it could have been bad experience and you will usually need to do some training to bring them to the standards and needs for YOUR practice.
As an example, almost no staff have ever been properly trained on how to handle shoppers and almost all will lose about two to five potential new patients each week due to lack of proper training on this skill set. The term “shopper” is a derogatory term meant for people who are just asking about price. However, with the right skill, your staff can almost always turn them into a patient of your practice. The callers clearly have a need or they would not have made the call at all.
Sometimes your staff gets pulled in several directions at once and they don’t know how to best handle it and can get snarly…which you definitely don’t want the face of your practice to do. Work with them on what to do in situations like that, or if a patient is rude and upsetting to them.
Some practice owners have inadvertently hired a quiet or shy person for reception instead of someone outgoing and confident, and this usually costs them around $5,000 per month in lost business.
Your staff at the front end have everything to do with the success of your practice and just need some training and guidance. They must develop diplomacy and friendliness, enthusiasm for your results, a caring attitude towards one and all, be welcoming, and so on.
And last, but not least, they must have an interest in the business and its success or failure. If the practice is doing really well, a bonus system is easy to factor in, and the face and voice of the practice has a great deal of control over how well the practice is doing.
The face and voice of the practice is a very important position. Help them and take care of THEM and they will take care of YOU and bring success to your practice!
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