Inviting Repeat Business
BY CHERYL BRUCE, BA, CPOT, NCLC, LDO, Spokane, Wash.
Are your patients getting the warm welcome they
deserve? Creating a friendly office environment takes a lot of work, but it's
one aspect of your office policy you can't afford to overlook. Read on to see if
you're making the grade.
Between the phones, the patients, the vendors and
the doctor, working at the front desk can be stressful. And that's on a good
day. So, it's not surprising we sometimes forget to greet patients properly. But
don't fool yourself that your patients won't notice. Put yourself in their
shoes. How do you feel when the dentist's receptionist doesn't even look up when
you arrive at her desk or when the allergist's staff members hide behind a glass
window? Is this how you want your patients to feel when they come to your
The key to creating a welcoming environment is
respect. No matter how busy you are, you should greet every patient and answer
all questions to the best of your ability. An ignored patient is an unhappy
patient and most likely, one who won't be coming back any time soon.
Survey the surroundings
If you haven't walked through your reception area
for some time, you may want to make sure you're providing an appealing and
comfortable seating area for your patients. Specifically, you should:
1. Evaluate the general condition of furniture
and carpeting. Shabby furniture and stained carpeting can make a poor first
2. Assess the d�cor. Is the color scheme up to
date? Have you changed the wall hangings or pictures in the past few years?
Ideally, you want to strike a balance between a sterile and a warm, calm
3. Replace outdated and tattered periodicals.
4. Check the lighting. Is the room bright enough
5. Consider offering alternative distractions or
activities. Some offices have optional TV viewing areas that show
close-captioned news or videotapes.
At work, we tend to settle into a routine, so
it's sometimes difficult to tell when we've developed bad habits. One way to
assess your office's "friendliness factor" is by distributing patient
survey cards, which can help you identify what aspects of customer service you
need to improve.
A pleasant environment will keep patients coming
back. Surprise them by giving them more than they expect on their next visit.
Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: May 2004