You all know the saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Can you get another try at a first impression? Most everyone would say no, thus the term … “First.” What if I told you how to re-visit a first impression? How to make sure your first impressions are powerful ones?

In the dental office it is paramount that the person or persons who answer the phone and who greet the patients reflect the tone desired for the practice. I have seen, and continue to see, horrible situations that take place in the front office around patients, many of whom are brand new to the office.

Here are a few tips to leave a great first impression or re-visit a previous impression that went wrong.

  • Smile while you are talking. It is a great toning workout for facial muscles and it makes your patients feel more comfortable. You don’t have to go overboard, like Batman’s nemesis The Joker, but use a smile. It’s non-negotiable.
  • Always refrain from talking about personal or other patient business in earshot of the reception area. I know the open floor plan in most offices is very appealing these days, but it has left the front office staff without a good place to make calls regarding other patients. Just remember, if it was your information, would you want others overhearing what you are discussing?
  • Never talk about other staff or especially the dentist in a bad light. This not only makes you appear very unprofessional but leaves an impression with patients as to this office’s morale. Patients are stressed enough just coming in the door. The last thing they want to hear is office conflict.
  • Be helpful. We have tons of paperwork required, and from the young to the old this can be a daunting experience. Having a patient advocate who can help guide a new patient through the items and is knowledgeable enough to explain, in people terms, makes for a much more pleasant situation. Don’t shove the packet on a clipboard at the patient – explain!
  • Always greet patients by first name when they come in. Let them know you know who they are and you care they are visiting your office. Having some small bottles of water to offer everyone is very good.

These simple yet profound things can make for a very wonderful experience for your patients. It is also marketing you are doing without spending a dime. Patients talk. Are they talking your office up as the best place on earth, or are they telling their family and friends where to avoid?

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