Shortage of Dental Clinic Receptionists? 4 Tips To Retain Your Front Desk Staff

Mar 16, 2023 | Blog

Many dental offices are facing a shortage of outpatient receptionists. In the long term, this can impair the patient experience, increase costs, and lose you patients.

Having a consistent team of dental clinic receptionists is crucial in improving clinical operations and maintaining a steady flow of revenue.

Here’s what you need to know.

Why Is There A Shortage Of Dental Clinic Receptionists?

A 2021 survey involving 19,000 respondents explored various aspects of dental practice management where COVID-19 had an economic impact. One of the key areas they explored is staffing key roles such as administrative staff.

Two of the key questions in the survey were:

  • “Have you recently or are you currently recruiting any of the following positions in your dental practice?”
  • “Compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic, how challenging has it been to recruit the position(s) below?”

When the respondents were asked these questions regarding administrative staff, the respondents gave 2 insightful statistics:

  1. 26.5% of respondents said Yes when asked if they’re actively recruiting new administrative staff
  2. However, 89% expressed that it was at least Moderately Challenging to fill in that role

Also, a 2022 survey by Dental Post on dental employee turnover found that 32% of front-office employees want to apply for a new job because they feel underappreciated and underpaid.

There are several reasons why receptionists would feel underappreciated:

  • Lack of clear career path
  • No noticeable growth opportunities
  • Being unheard by supervisors
  • Unresolved stress or burnout issues
  • Feeling disconnected from the team

As the vanguard of the patient experience, your front desk team needs all the support they can get to deliver a positive, consistent front desk experience.

Investing in your receptionists and keeping them from leaving will dramatically enhance patient retention.

A front desk that is always attended by a team of consistently performing receptionists is the key to significantly enhancing clinical efficiency.

4 Ways To Retain Your Receptionists

Train Your Receptionists Regularly

The everyday nitty-gritty of front desk work tends to wear down receptionists over time. Eventually, they will either find it stale or tiring.

Regularly training your receptionists keeps them engaged and interested in their work. It helps them discover more areas of improvement and growth in their roles.

  • One example is training them on properly responding to complex situations such as:
  • Frustrated patients
  • Scheduling errors
  • Providers suddenly unavailable

Training sessions are also excellent opportunities to instill a sense of excitement and belonging in your staff. You can use activities such as role-playing, for example, to provide learning moments for your staff while making it fun and inclusive.

Provide Career Growth Opportunities

Your front desk staff may feel that there is little to no room for growth in their career. Hence, they will leave your practice for another career path where there are more meaningful opportunities to grow.

As your practice expands, horizontal and vertical growth opportunities become more viable to offer to your current receptionists. When you hire front office staff for new locations, for instance, you can promote your more seasoned receptionists to higher positions.

Thus, when creating an expansion strategy for your practice, always keep your front desk staff in mind. Create a conducive working environment for your staff that understands and encourages them to explore a change in role.

Afterward, present them with open prospects for promotion. This will keep them motivated and even encourage them to perform better.

In the long run, they’ll be the ideal candidates for necessary manager or supervisor roles, as they know how your practice operates.

Here are 4 examples of positions you can promote established receptionists to:

  1. Senior/Lead receptionist
  2. Front desk manager
  3. Practice manager
  4. Office manager

Maximize Their Capabilities

Your dental clinic receptionists can do more than facilitate check-in, schedule appointments, and communicate with patients.

They’re capable of further enriching the patient experience by guiding your patients through their time with the clinic.

Here are examples of other functions that your dental clinic receptionists can perform with ample training:

  • Informing and guiding patients with their treatment plan
  • Implementing and suggesting the best financing plan for each patient
  • Processing pre-authorization and insurance verification

Some of your receptionists may also excel in certain areas of their work, like billing or care coordination. You can focus on these strengths and interests to fully maximize their capabilities. This can open up opportunities for those receptionists to assume roles that are more suitable to their specializations (e.g., billing specialist, care coordinator)

Listen To Their Feedback For Improving Front Desk Operations

Your receptionists have a wealth of knowledge on how the front desk experience can be improved.

Hands-on experience with accommodating patients and performing administrative tasks is significantly more insightful than observations and analyzing metrics.

Conduct regular meetings with your front desk team to determine what can be improved. Not only will this provide you with very strong ideas — it will also build camaraderie with your receptionists.

Never Underestimate The Impact Of Dental Clinic Receptionists

Dental clinic receptionists play a large role in keeping your practice running. With these 4 tips in mind, you’ll make sure that there is always a smiling receptionist behind the front desk to greet your patients.

Another excellent strategy is to implement equipment that can maximize your front desk staff’s potential while minimizing burnout and costs. WelcomeWare is a virtual front desk receptionist platform that enables your staff to manage your front desk at home or from a centralized location.

Contact us or book a demo now to learn how WelcomeWare can help you enable and leverage dental virtual receptionists for your clinic.

Keep all of your rockstar dental clinic receptionists

Never experience front desk staffing shortage again with WelcomeWare

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