Your reception team – the face of the dental practice

The front desk team at your dental practice are equally as (if not, more so) important as your clinical team. They are the first touch-point that patients have with the practice and as such play a vital role in developing, nurturing and maintaining excellent relationships with your patients.

The importance of the phone

First and foremost - answer the phone! You could be missing out on signing up a new patient to the practice. Ideally you should have at least two members of the team on the front desk at any one time to ensure that the phone is answered and patients physically at the desk aren’t kept waiting.

Hearing a ringing, non-answered phone raises people’s stress levels – not just those who work there but patients/visitors too. You want to create a calm welcoming environment for patients, not heighten their potential feelings of stress. And as for those ringing the practice, if you are unable to answer the phone within a few rings, ensure an answering service kicks in so as not to lose the call (and if it does go to an answering machine, regularly check it and call the patients back).

Not just what you do but the way that you do it

Ensure that your front desk team are appropriately trained on dealing with patients on the phone. Some people are completely unaware of how they come across on the phone and may not realise that their telephone manner leaves a lot to be desired! A bright, positive, friendly voice is how patients want to be greeted, not by a voice who makes patients feel as though they are an inconvenience.

Use names = create a connection

“ABC Dental, Liz speaking, how may I help you?” – using your name when answering the phone ensures you are instantly creating a connection with the other person by humanising yourself. By asking the caller their name and using it during the conversation, you’re acknowledging them as an individual and instantly making them feel more valued.

Dealing with new enquiries

Do your reception team know the value of a potential new patient? In terms of life-time value, it is likely to be in region of £5000, not accounting for the potential earnings gained from any referrals generated. It is so important that staff truly feel part of a collective effort responsible for the success of the practice.

An effective process

Using prompt sheets which follow a clear, set process ensures consistency is maintained each and every time. For example, prompting team members to ask how the caller heard about you, and promoting the benefits of the dental plan could easily get forgotten in a conversation without a clear ‘new patient enquiry’ prompt sheet.
See our previous blog

For larger practices, ideally there should be designated personnel dealing with new patients versus existing patients.

Serving patients

It may sound obvious but ensure that there is a clear service culture at the practice. This must be part of the ethos and felt throughout the practice – patients are literally the lifeblood for everyone there. Staff can get stuck in a rut with the ‘daily grind’ and forget how important each and every patient is to the practice.
• Listen to what the patient wants/needs- how can you help them?
• Relay what had been understood to be sure you’ve understood the patient correctly
• Be benefits focused when describing treatments not merely list features
• Be a dental plan advocate
• Don’t be shy about mentioning your fees
• Be clear on what will happen next
• How can you make the patient feel valued? What added extras can you provide?

For further help and advice please do not hesitate to contact me. Drop me an email at or call 01463 223399.