Very often the thought is that administrators are the least important role in a dental office and can be changed out with out much disruption. This statement is usually made by someone who doesn’t realize that the administrator is the ambassador of the office and is single handedly responsible for every patient’s first and last impression of the office. We all know that the first and last impressions are the most lasting of any experience.
The Office Administrator is a goodwill ambassador interacting with patients on the telephone and in the office, communicating the services offered by the practice and educating parents and patients. This person is responsible for excellent customer relations and represents the practice through positive customer experiences.
Your administrator has the important job of being the first contact with any new patient in the office. This contact may be answering the phone, welcoming a walk-in patient, or responding to an email request for a first appointment. This impression can be lasting for most patients, a negative first impression could mean the patient never joins the practice.
If the initial contact is over the phone for a new patient, you want to ensure that this is the last dental office that a patient calls looking for a new dentist. This requires your administrator to pick up the phone by the second ring, answer in a pleasant and welcoming tone, be able to answer the patient’s questions and collect their information in a professional and organized manner without a lot of pauses or “dead air” time. Being organized in delivery of information about the patient’s appointment and doing as they say they are going to do is important as well. This would include prompt emails with a medical form, confirmations and any pertinent information that would be needed for an appointment.
If a patient walks into the office for the first time looking to ask a question and perhaps become a patient, the administrator needs to acknowledge the person right away, smile and let them know they will just be a moment if they are already occupied. Many times, I have seen an administrator busy typing on their computer and not acknowledging the person in front of them. The patient could easily walk back out the door as quickly as they walked in.
If your office has email requests for new patients or a texting service for existing patients, then the responses need to be within an hour maximum during regular business hours. We live in a time of technology where people have been trained to receive quick responses, a long response may make the patient feel not valued and leave them with a poor impression of the office.
The same is true with patients departing from their appointments, they are expecting a warm welcoming smile after their appointment, a proper hand off from the clinical team to ensure that all information is communicated in front of the patient for next visits and any follow up that has been promised, happens when it is expected.
Ensure that the administrators in your office understand their purpose. Their purpose isn’t answering the phone and seeing patients out. The administrators need to realize that are answering important questions which in turn help support their oral health, they create a welcoming environment that feels positive for the patient, and most importantly they are organizing the office for the day to ensure that the office runs smoothly, and everyone’s day flows well.
There is a lot of responsibility placed on the shoulders of the administrator, ensure that they have proper training to perform their tasks to enhance the clinical experience of your office.