Front Desk First Impressions: 5 Tips to Improve Your Medical Practice
What’s your first impression when visiting a doctor’s office?
While it may seem obvious, some practices don’t realize how much of an impact their front desk staff has on patients’ first (and often last) impressions. From checking in patients to handling tedious tasks throughout the day, these individuals are just as important as the practicing physicians. The first impressions created by your front desk staff can set the tone for positive future appointments, or cost you a valuable patient. Which would you prefer?
To help you avoid negative first impressions, here are some helpful tips to keep your front desk staff on the right track.
1.) Greet Patients With a Purpose
Have you heard the expression, “First Impressions are Everything”? The phrase is especially true when talking about the patient experience. Front desk staff set the tone for patients when greeting them and checking them in. Their disposition determines the patient’s attitude for the remainder of the appointment. Positivity with a smile and genuine communication can set a lasting tone that leads to high levels of patient satisfaction and retention.
2.) Have Proper Phone Etiquette
Answering the phone is just like greeting a patient that walks through the door of your practice. Having a friendly attitude, being polite and using good phone etiquette are sure ways to make everyone’s day go a little bit smoother. Always ask questions as needed and clarify answers when patients seem to be getting flustered. Treating others the way you would like to be treated (The “Golden Rule”) goes a long way. And remember, manners matter!
3.) Keep a Clean Space
Maintaining the reception area or waiting room may not seem like a big deal, but it speaks volumes to your visitors. Taking pride in the way your waiting area looks does not go unnoticed. You wouldn’t want to sit in a dirty room that looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in months, so why would you put your patients through that? Making sure to do a quick wipe down of the chairs and tables with a disinfectant will help eliminate the spread of germs throughout the office and make for happier patients. Picking up things like trash and runaway magazines that patients forgot to return to their place is also helpful. You want to create a warm, friendly environment that patients won’t mind hanging out in while waiting for their physician.
4.) Facilitate Smooth Office Flow
For the most part, front desk staff facilitate patient flow throughout the office. This gives them an opportunity to let their excellent customer service skills shine. While patients are waiting to be seen by the doctor, staff needs to ensure that both patients and physician(s) are being notified of any arrivals, delays or errors that have occurred. Communicating to all staff and making accommodations for patient(s) ensures that everyone is on the same page and that patients will continue to return in the future.
5.) Maintain Patient Records Safely
Every time a patient checks in at a doctor’s office, there’s a routine of verifying their personal information. Keeping up with demographic and other relevant data is an essential function of the front desk staff. This ensures the records are kept up-to-date and that no HIPAA laws are broken due to carelessness. Taking the time to double check the patient’s name, date of birth and insurance information shows not only that you care for the patient, but that you take accountability for your job. This would also be a good time to address payment(s), answer any questions regarding the appointment/scheduling processes and collect any email addresses for billing and surveying purposes.
While there are other factors that contribute to a successful front desk team, the tips outlined above should be emphasized if they aren’t already standard in your practice. The healthcare industry is a competitive market and practices with poor front desk first impressions won’t last long. Delivering the best possible care and customer service to your patients is a sure way to retain their loyalty for the years to come.