Dental Communication Through Scripting
What is said, who is saying it, how it is said and when it is said are the keys to dynamic verbal communication in a dental practice. Our words are the most powerful tool we have for patient compliance, patient education and building rapport and trust with everyone we come in contact with during a busy day in a dental practice.
One of the criticisms of scripting is that it can sound canned or robotic. To eliminate this, it is important for the person saying the script to understand the reason or motivation behind saying certain words - not just the order to “say this” as written. When developing the script, seek input from the front-line employees whose responsibility will be the outcome of using the scripts. Encourage their input for improvement or customization to fit the practice philosophy or environment. Explain when scripts should be used and who should be using them.
Practice the scripts with the team during a staff meeting. Just because something looks good on paper doesn’t mean it will sound great when actually used. Engage in roleplaying and practice the scripts in typical office scenarios where scripting is critical for patient and staff communication. Practice will allow you to work out the phrasing and timing of the words so the conversation is natural and pleasing.
Ask team members to use the scripting. Despite our best efforts at developing great scripts that communicate clearly and effectively, we can’t assume people are using them. Assess the frequency and quality of scripting through observation and conversations with staff. Ask employees how the scripts could be improved and to share examples of best practices.
When practicing using scripts in communication it is important to remember your body language. Scripting typically refers to what words to use and when, but words are only a part of effective communication. Eye contact, gestures, facial expressions, etc. all impact the message we are trying to convey. Scripting is a tool in communication, it is not the goal. The goal is realized when the message that you are attempting to convey is received and understood.
When you have crafted a good script to fit situations that happen over and over again in your dental office, you do not have to reinvent what to say. For instance, a patient is late for their hygiene appointment by 15 minutes, and the hygienist needs 50 minutes to treat them. What should the scripted response be? There is a system to help prevent this situation, but that is another article. Let’s say the script goes like this:
Patient: “I’m sorry I am late.”
If there is a way to see the patient today, the Scheduling Coordinator then says: “Mr. Patient, we will be able to work you in today even though the time necessary to treat you is fifty minutes. We aren’t always this flexible because the time of your appointment is reserved just for you and we have another patient soon.”
If the schedule cannot accommodate the late patient, the Scheduling Coordinator will say: “Mr. Patient, we will not be able to work you in today because we no longer have enough time to give you the professional care necessary for your visit. Our next patient is due in thirty minutes. If you can wait for fifteen minutes, Dr. can do your professional examination today and we can reschedule you to see the hygienist for your cleaning another day. Would that work for you?”
If your office philosophy is to see all patients whether they are late or not, it is wise to have a script to help the patient understand that this is not what you prefer. Usually in this situation, the patient or patients will have to be informed that there will be some delay or some wait time involved when they are late. The message that you are conveying is that professional care requires the proper time to be scheduled to meet the needs of the patient.
Want to learn to role play, write professional scripts and perfect communication with your patients? Schedule a professional training class with McKenzie Management. Training programs can be viewed HERE.Forward this article to a friend
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