Poor communication between the dental office staff and their patients can cause a multitude of issues. Miscommunication can cause problems with billing, scheduling, and patient satisfaction. For a dental office to run smoothly, the front desk staff needs to take the lead in effective communication among patients, colleagues, and dental professionals. The dental office front desk staff provides the first impression to every patient who enters the office, and effective communication goes a long way towards success.

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What Does Front Desk Success Mean at a Dental Office?

The front desk is the face of the dental practice. No matter how educated, skilled, and effective the clinical staff is, if a patient has a poor experience with the front desk staff at the beginning or end of their appointment, that is what they will remember. Patients remember their first impression of the office, which puts a lot of responsibility onto the front desk staff. But what does front desk success look like?

Simply put, front desk success can be defined as a neat, organized, and efficient reception desk, staffed with those who are efficient and accurate in their work, effective communicators, and have the right people skills to handle even the most nervous patient. Front desk success means that patients feel as though they are listened to, their paperwork and payments are handled smoothly, and appointments are made with ease. Effective communication skills are the key to front desk success.

Front Desk Staff Communication

When you are part of the front desk dental office staff, you need to ensure that you are always communicating clearly. Any information you share with patients, dental staff, and front desk coworkers, whether in person or over the phone, should be accurate and clear. Communication is about listening as much as speaking, including recognizing non-verbal cues. Part of the role of the front desk staff is to make sure that everyone involved understands all the information communicated to them correctly. A simple miscommunication about dental needs, payment, or appointment scheduling can quickly spiral into a frustrated dentist or an unhappy patient. The front desk staff needs to make clear communication their primary focus. You need to make sure that you are someone who can be relied on to be present for patients, answer the phone, and be available when needed. You’ll need to be able to be punctual, be present, and take responsibility for your role.

Communication is Sometimes About Multitasking

The front desk at a dental office is a busy place, and the ability to multitask is not a bonus, it’s a necessity. As part of the front desk dental office staff, you’ll be juggling a ringing phone, dealing with patients who are currently at the desk, communicating with coworkers, and making sure you have all the necessary paperwork. A dental office front desk worker needs to be able to balance everything that is going on and prioritize each need without making anyone feel unimportant.

This often requires a great deal of organization, which is a skill that a quality front desk worker needs to develop. No matter how busy the office is, a pile of paperwork is a recipe for disaster, as documents can get misplaced, and information will easily be miscommunicated. A good dental office front desk staff member needs to be able to handle complex phone systems, computer scheduling systems, digital filing systems, and any other technology the office has incorporated.

To be effective at multitasking and still effective at communication, the dental office front desk staff needs to be well trained in technology and understand the importance of organization. The dental office front desk staff will often need to be the problem solvers within the office, and a staff who communicates effectively with each other can often solve problems seamlessly, often without the patient ever realizing there was an issue.

Social Skills are an Important Part of Effective Communication

Efficiency, effectiveness, and organization are all important for quality communication, but if a dental office front desk staff member doesn’t have strong social skills, they may not be well received. The front desk staff, as the face of the practice, needs to build relationships with patients. Patients need to be greeted warmly and feel that they have your focused attention, even if you are busy and stressed. Patients may be nervous about their dental appointments, and empathy and kindness from the front desk can go a long way toward calming their nerves and making their experience less stressful. The best dental office front desk staff members are excellent at non-verbal communication and possess the ability to read and anticipate the needs of both patients and colleagues. Although they may be busy and stressed, this does not come out in their interactions.

Because the dental office front desk staff is the first impression of the practice, you may feel the pressure of handling an overwhelming job with patience and a smile. However, with the right training program, you will hone your communication and interpersonal skills and learn how to best manage a busy front desk without feeling overwhelmed. A quality training program will teach you all of the most popular technology that may be used in a dental office, so you are ready to handle it with ease. With the right training, you can go into a dental office front desk role with confidence, ready to handle any situation.

A career in dental office administration is fulfilling, and your training is just a phone call away. To learn more about how we can set you up for success, contact South Florida Dental Assistant School today!