Patient being offered a hot towel

Make Them SMILE at your Dentist Clinic

A Smile Can Change A Life

There are numerous stories of how dentists and oral surgeons change lives by giving people back their smile. Through the wonders of technology and their sheer dental skill, they let people once again eat what they want, talk to others confidently, or just open their mouths and smile. It can be a long-term, character-changing, life-changing development for the patients.

A Smile Can Change Feelings

But dentists can also change someone’s character without the hours of surgery, too. It only takes a moment…………………

They can do so with a smile of their own. A smile and a few kind words to a patient arriving at the clinic or settling into the chair can make a huge difference to that visitor’s well-being. The warm greeting and reassurance can help them overcome their discomfort. It can say, “I understand your apprehension and worry. We’ll do what we can to make it as pain-free as possible and make you feel better.”

The Typical Welcome at a Dentist

A visitor to a dentist is always going to be greeted as they check in at the front-desk. But often that is the only welcome they get, and the purpose is actually FOR THE CLINIC (the “1-o’clock”is here). They are told, “I’ll tell your doctor. Have a seat”, and there they sit until they are called….. Nervously waiting – staring at a fishtank, flipping through out-dated and dog-earred issues of Sport Illustrated or People Magazine, or glancing at their smartphone….. Basically counting the minutes and wishing they were somewhere else…….

Give Them Hospitality – Treat Them Differently

Your dentistry skills will obviously have a positive impact on your patient by improving their appearance, health, or oral condition. They will have a healthy and ‘brighter’ future because of what you do. However, your technical ability will not be what they remember. It will not be what you did that day, but rather how you did it that they will recall? The way they were welcomed in the waiting room is a critical Moment of Truth in that experience.

Give them the Basics

There might be some ‘standard’ deliverables that your team can offer to help look after them while in the lobby. A range of ideas to consider as you evaluate your waiting room hospitality may include:

  1. Does a team member acknowledge and greet visitors (as a person) when they come through the door?
  2. Do you tell them where the restroom is, if you have one?
  3. Are electric outlets in the lobby easy to reach? Do you have phone chargers they can borrow?
  4. Is reading material current, in good condition, and well organized?
  5. What’s on the TV?
  6. Is there a refreshment area for visitors waiting on someone having an appointment?

This is obviously a short checklist of things that they might want or need while waiting for their check-up or procedure. But these are rational and physical deliverables. What about the personal and emotional support they might be looking for? More importantly……..

AND Give Them Some Care

Give them some human connection – Give them some empathy. Give them a feeling that they are in good hands and that they are going to be all right. You might ask yourself:

  • Are all visitors treated the same?
    Is the waiting room layout conducive to connecting with patients, or do visitors barely see the front-desk team hidden behind a tall counter?
  • How do we treat our visitors who are not here for an appointment, but rather waiting for a friend or loved-one getting treatment?

These are only a couple of things to consider, but they do address the intent of trying to settle a guest’s mind as they wait for their appointment. Greeting them at the door and truly making them welcome is about bonding, and creating an emotional connection that has proven to lead to better financial results like ‘share of wallet’, profitability, etc.. The mission should be to make them welcome. Make them feel cared for. MAKE THEM SMILE.

RELATED ARTICLE: Three Key Elements to Hospitality

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