Do You Have Communication Stop Signs in Your Office?
We all know that one of the primary components of a successful practice is communication. But what is communication? Written, verbal, and non-verbal are all common forms of communication in a dental office. But more important than what forms of communication are being used is how they are used - and what may be keeping your practice from achieving open and positive communication.
Even simple messages that are placed on your desk should include the date the message was written, who wrote it and what the details are. If the message is a phone message, it should also include the caller’s name, their telephone number and the reason for their call. How many times have you had a sticky note placed on the monitor in your office that said “Call Bob Jones”? Teach your team how to take messages for you if you aren’t using a voice mailbox.
Treatment plan estimates should have a disclaimer regarding their expiration. Include the possibility that the proposed treatment may change during the course of treatment, which the patient will be informed of at the time. Your financial options forms should include the treatment proposed, three options for payment including CareCredit with 0% interest, as well as the consequences of non-payment, making sure that you follow the guidelines of your state pertaining to interest, collection fee, etc.
The messaging options on some of the practice management software can be helpful. It also requires one to be able to turn and see the message and then type a response when necessary. This can be a challenge.
And what about how information is communicated among your team members? With the help of temperament testing, verbal communication can be made more clearly and with no conflicting emotions when the team understands the importance of using words such as “we” opposed to “you”, and “I feel” opposed to “you are”. Inappropriate words are hurtful and long-lasting when the message could have been delivered in a more “user-friendly” manner.
It is so important for business team members to have a smile on their face when they answer the phone, as a smile can be “heard” in their voice to the caller. The proper inflection as well as sincerity of the message is also important in order to make that caller feel cared for. Do you listen to your business assistant answer the phone? Does she or he have a script, such as “Thank you for calling Dr. Gooddentist’s office. This is Mary. How may I help you today?” Saying “morning” or “afternoon” can be difficult when the phones are ringing off the hook and one must remember if it is really morning or afternoon. Make it easier by changing the message. Wireless walkie-talkies are encouraged for efficient and effective communication among all the team members.
Of course, there is also the “let’s just not talk about it at all” form of non-verbal communication. Maybe the problem will go away, the tasks will simply get done by some wand waving, or the team can simply read my mind! Take time at your next monthly meeting to discuss ways of improving inter-office communication. Review your written forms and messages. Use more “we” instead of “I” and use “feel” instead of “think”. I “feel” that it will be time well spent.
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