Your dental practice front office staff is often the first impression that a patient will have of your practice. Hiring the right individuals and providing them with proper training is an important part of improving the patient experience when receiving dental care. And, not only will your patients be happy but the rest of your practice will be happy if your front office staff has been trained in things like maximizing patient flow. For this reason, it is important to provide your dental practice front office staff with formal training as well as opportunities to receive additional training throughout their employment.
Every front office staff member should receive formal training. But, it should not stop there, training should happen with regularity so that procedures do not get skipped or neglected and so that new procedures can be introduced. Empower your employees with the information they need to do a good job. Many front office training sessions begin with phone training since that is often the way patients make appointments. A front office staff member should always be upbeat, positive, informative and never combative or sarcastic. People respond to tone and words so staff members need to know how important it is to put their best foot forward on a phone call. Not everyone is born with natural phone skills so it is a good idea to do some test calls for training. Practice both standard scheduling calls as well as calls that involve confusing questions, nervous patients, or frustrated patients. A good front office staff member will know how to handle any of those scenarios since they are all bound to arise at one point or another.
The next step in training is to encourage your front office staff to treat patients as they would treat a family member. Dental patients may be nervous – whether rationally or irrationally – and they should never be scolded for that or discouraged from getting a treatment. Front office staff should be trained in answer common treatment questions and even be supplied with a “cheat sheet” they can reference for answers so that they know the ideal way to respond. They should also be properly trained in when they should escalate a call to the next in common or to a dental practitioner to answer patient questions. Regular empathy training may sound a little over the top to some but it can be immensely beneficial in creating the best front office staff possible. Additionally, front office staff should be well trained in insurance questions and know how to refer to your billing staff or, if they are in charge of billing, have a full depth of knowledge of insurance and treatment costs
The final step in properly training your front office staff is to teach them how to “sell” your practice. That means encouraging patients to schedule their next appointment before leaving. Additionally, it means encouraging patients to leave online reviews which can heavily influence whether or not a new patient decides to visit your practice. If applicable, your front office staff can even be trained in enhancing and supporting your practice’s social media presence. Proper training of your dental practice front office staff can dramatically improve the culture of your practice and the experience of your patients while simultaneously increasing profitability.