5 Crucial Skills Your Dental Office Receptionists Should Have

Jun 24, 2022 | Blog

Are you leveraging your dental office receptionists properly?

Your front desk staff can do much more than facilitate check-ins. They’re the people your patients see when they enter and leave your dental clinic. Your clinic’s patient retention and satisfaction hinges in part on how your front desk performs. Thus, they can serve a critical role in increasing your clinic’s profit margin.

If you want to maximize your clinic’s profitability, you have to fully realize the potential of your front desk. There are 5 skills that every dental office receptionist should have for your clinic to achieve greater productivity and a higher bottom line.

What are these skills? Read below:

5 Skills Every Dental Office Receptionist Should Have

Calming Down Patients

50% to 80% of adults in the United States have dental anxiety, and at least 20% of patients see their dentists irregularly. In other words, your patients are often scared when they enter your dental clinic. They may also prefer to visit your dental clinic at irregular intervals. This can lead to untapped profitability for your clinic.

Thus, your dental receptionists must be capable of detecting when patients are anxious and identifying how they can calm them down. You can train them to observe patients and alleviate their anxiety.

Here are a few ways they can calm down your patients:

  • Strike a friendly conversation
  • Make jokes about their own stories with dental appointments
  • Reassure them about the process

This is vital because your receptionists can help you access a higher profit margin by easing your patients’ anxiety. If your patients are actively calmed down before their appointments, they’re more likely to come back.

You can discuss ways to address this issue with your receptionists during their training.

Maintaining Image Of The Clinic

In a 2021 New Zealand study, researchers discovered that dental patients have various criteria for selecting and evaluating dental services. These include:

  • Friendliness of the dentist
  • Appearance of clinic facilities
  • Being able to see the same dentist at every visit
  • After-service factors (i.e., how dentists treat new dental problems from returning patients)

While there was no mention of the front desk experience in this study, your receptionists can help in these areas. Some examples include:

  • Creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere and environment for the patients
  • Helping maintain the cleanliness of the reception area
  • Scheduling future appointments where patients meet the same dentists
  • Sending texts or emails to remind your patients about upcoming appointments to prevent no-shows

Supporting Your Dental Providers

A general dentist in your clinic can see up to 10-15 patients per day. This means that your dental providers may have their hands full most of the time. While hands-on dentistry may be outside a receptionist’s scope of practice, your receptionists can still help your dental providers.

Some ways include:

  • Taking on their administrative work
  • Scheduling appointments based on their preferences
  • Collect patient information before the appointment

For best results, encourage a strong relationship between your receptionists and dentists. Even if they may see each other rarely, establishing rapport can reduce burnout and maintain performance.

Guiding Your Patients Through Their Care Plans

A common fear among patients is about how they can finance their treatment. Oftentimes, dental providers are more willing to deliver quality care to their patients than to worry about the business side of healthcare.

This is where your dental office receptionists can play a crucial role as patient care coordinators. They can advise your patients on:

  • Their treatment plan
  • Financing options
  • Eligible insurance providers

      Assigning care coordination to your receptionists will require additional training and budget allocation to compensate them. But in the long run, this is a worthwhile investment as it leads your patients to trust your clinic. A 2017 study on patient-provider relationships found that patients who trust their chosen healthcare practice report the following factors:

      • More healthy behavior
      • Fewer symptoms
      • Strike Better quality of life
      • Greater treatment satisfaction

      Altogether, these factors result in improved patient retention.

      Upselling Other Dental Services

      In the long run, your dental practice is a business where you find success through patient retention. Maintaining a high baseline of retention is essential to having a high-profit margin. However, you can raise your margin even further by upselling other dental services on top of the ones that your patients are already taking. This is a subtle but effective way of increasing profit.

      Your dental providers can do this by recommending other dental services during the appointment. However, either your patients may be unreceptive to their advice due to dental anxiety, making them worry more about the procedure.

      Instead, have your receptionists upsell to your patients. Patients are much less likely to develop dental anxiety associated with your receptionists. They may also listen to your dental office receptionists more if they manage to exude openness and warmth before and after the appointment. This is especially when you assign your front desk to care coordination tasks.

      However, this means that your receptionists have to be very familiar with your offerings. If you want to leverage your front desk to access upselling opportunities, train them on things a dental receptionist should know about basic dental services. Later, orient them on your clinic’s specific catalog of offerings.

      Tips On How To Train Your Dental Receptionists

      Developing these vital skills involves extensively training your receptionists so they can be properly equipped to facilitate a positive patient experience.

      Holding regular training sessions is an easy and effective way to refresh your front desk on policies and protocols. But if you want to truly equip them to bring more value to your clinic, you will need to train them in a more holistic approach.

      Here are a few tips to help you:

      • Assess their current workload. Determine if they’re being highly utilized or if they can be assigned with more administrative responsibilities to maximize their ROI
      • Identify workflow issues. Outdated equipment, understaffing, or lack of training can impede the productivity of your front desk
      • Conduct role-playing activities. These allow your receptionists to prepare better for complex situations

      Ask them for their feedback. Since they have hands-on experience with managing the front desk, they can provide you with insights on areas of improvement around your front desk

      Maximize Your Dental Office Receptionists

      Great dental receptionists can bring a lot of value to your dental practice. However, they may be geographically far from your reach. If you want to access a larger pool of receptionists, consider transitioning your front desk to a virtual front desk work setup with a virtual receptionist platform like WelcomeWare.

      Besides allowing you to reach better-fit receptionists, leveraging virtual dental receptionists can significantly benefit your dental practice and bring more value than a physical one. WelcomeWare also offers dental front desk outsourcing solutions, giving you access to a pool of proven outpatient receptionists.


      Enable your front desk to go virtual while keeping the smile

      Leverage WelcomeWare to enhance the front desk experience of your dental practice

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