The front desk is the headquarters of the dental office. The more collaborative the front desk staff is with each other, the more efficiently the office can run and the better the experience will be for the patients. Working at the front desk at a dental office can be a rewarding career, and by implementing some collaborative front desk strategies, teamwork will be improved and the dental office will be an even better place to work.

Dental office front desk staff person smiling at the camera.

Focus on Patient Hand-Offs

When patients see the dental staff working together and communicating in a collaborative manner, they often feel more comfortable in the office. When front desk staff pass charts, schedules, and paperwork around in front of a patient without acknowledgement of the patient, the patient can feel uncomfortable as it seems that the dental assistants, front desk staff, and dentists are detached. A “hand-off” lets the patient know that the office is working together collaboratively, but also involves the patient in the process and reinforces the information the patient needs.

For example, when the dental assistant brings the patient to the front desk at the end of the appointment, the dental assistant will recap the appointment, then reemphasize the follow up treatment that will need to be scheduled. Once the dental assistant has said goodbye, the front desk staff member can repeat the information while beginning the check-out process. While it seems that this communication is just between staff members, it does two things for the patient. It gives them the impression that the office is always working together to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks and no communication errors are made, and it reminds the patient of the information they need. Active listening and verbalizing the needs back after they’ve been communicated show greater understanding.

Be Prepared for Morning Meetings

Morning meeting, morning briefing, morning huddle. Whatever you call it in your dental office, starting the day with the dental office front desk staff – or even the full dental office staff – can get the whole team on the same page before the day starts, which is critical to having a productive and organized day.

Go over who the patients are for the day, if there are any concerns that will need to be addressed, and who will be the point person for every situation. When the entire team is aware of the flow of the day and specific concerns, patients feel that the staff is competent and prepared. Without this morning meeting, patients can get the sense that no one knows what is going on, especially if they spoke to someone on the phone about a concern, but the person who greeted them at the front desk is unaware of that issue. Better communication means better patient care. To make these morning meetings productive, make sure that you are prepared to both share relevant information and make note of the information you receive. This will eliminate any unnecessary confusion or back-and-forth during the day. In these meetings, feedback can be shared, empowering team members to share their ideas and feel heard about practices that can be improved.

Make an Effort Foster Teamwork Throughout the Dental Office

The dentist may be the most important person in the office in regards to dental care, but the front desk staff is the heart of the office. Front desk dental office staff should make it their priority to know everyone in the office and make it a point to foster that teamwork. The front desk dental staff can be the leaders in interoffice working relationships. Acknowledge birthdays, celebrations, and milestones, making it a point to make each member of the dental office staff feel seen and appreciated. When the staff makes their own relationships and teamwork a priority, the office will function more collaboratively, which will ultimately make it a better experience for the patients.

A Collaborative Office Helps Retain Patients

When communication and collaboration are lacking, dental practices are not as efficient. Tasks are duplicated, priorities are confused, and there is no clarity in responsibilities. This can cause delays in tasks, disorganization, and increased frustration, all of which is happening in view of the patients, who may lose confidence in the practice. If they are being asked to fill out paperwork multiple times because it hasn’t been communicated who is responsible for it, if they need to explain their needs and concerns over and over again to different staff members because no one seems to know or remember what is going on, patients are experiencing long wait times due to poor scheduling, or if the team is frustrated with each other, patients will seek out a new practice with fewer issues, even if the care they receive is good. When the work culture is disorganized and negative, the patient experience will reflect that culture.

Working as a member of the front desk team at a dental office can be a rewarding career. Qualified dental office front desk staff members are in demand with excellent job security, especially if they have gone through a dental office front desk training program. These training programs for front desk dental office staff will not only teach you the computer programs, billing and coding skills, phone skills, and administration skills that are specific to the dental profession, but will hone your interpersonal and collaborative skills that will make for a more efficient office, better patient experience, and a more fulfilling career.

If you’re looking for a career you can begin quickly that is in demand, consider becoming a part of a dental office front desk staff. We can help prepare you for success! Contact South Florida Dental Assisting School to learn more about our comprehensive dental office front desk staff training program.