Getting the most from your front desk team members

Obviously the clinical team are a key component of a dental practice but equally so are the front desk team members.  Here we provide food for thought to help you get the most from you team.

Use appropriate job titles

Receptionist can be deemed as an old-fashioned, almost slightly demeaning job title these days. You make like to consider using a job title that more accurately reflects the responsibilities of the role – for example, Patient Co-ordinator. Besides which, the self-fulfilling prophesy has a lot to do with one’s job title and how not only they perceive themselves but also how others view them.

Lead the team don’t just manage the team

A high performing team can only be so when it is well led. Lead your team by being a positive and motivational role model; being sure to set out clear expectations for everyone.

Performance management should be a continual process with everyone. Don’t save up feedback for formal review situations. Ensure that you regularly praise staff for a job well done and if any corrective measures need to be taken, discuss these in private.

Create a true team ethos

Respect is mutual. It is important for every member of the team (regardless of their role) to have an appreciation and understanding of what everyone at the practice does. Be wary of team members who hold onto knowledge as a sense of power (i.e. they are the only one who know how to do a particular task).

A good team had designated roles but at the same time it is important that everyone will help each other if needs be. There should be an overall ethos of ‘we all work together for the same purpose’ – to provide patients with an excellent level of care and make the practice a success.

Develop dental plan advocates

Your front desk team are quite literally at the frontline in terms of interactions with patients. Ensure that they are true advocates of your dental plan; being clear that their role is to educate patients about the plan and encourage more memberships.

It is vital to have set systems and procedures for tasks so that everyone ‘sings from the same hymn sheet’ and works cohesively, effectively and efficiently as a unit.

Ensure the necessary skill sets are in place

Recruit those with the right skills and/or aptitude to deal appropriately with patients and staff alike, and invest in training your team appropriately. Key skills for front desk team include:

  • Good communication skills – listening comes first and then comes speaking
  • Personable – friendly, approachable manner, enthusiastic and positive demeanour
  • Ability to build rapport – with patients, staff, referring practices and suppliers
  • Attention to detail – the devil truly is in the detail and poor attention to detail can have negative ramifications throughout the practice
  • Appreciation of the role they plan in the bigger picture – they are the voice/face of the practice and also the ears and eyes!
  • Knowledgeable – front desk members should know about the treatments on offer, details of you membership plans and other pertinent information relevant to patients.

Regularly communicate

Ideally you should have quick, daily ‘huddle’ meetings to run through what’s happening that day and instilling a team approach to dealing with the day to day management of the practice.

By keeping communication channels open and making it easy for people to bring up issues and provide positive feedback on a regular, consistent basis you will see the positive effect that this has on the overall success of you practice: happy staff, happy patients and a happy accountant!