6.01.07 - Issue # 273 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Jean Gallienne RDH BS
Hygiene Consultant
McKenzie Management
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Going for the Gold

What exactly is it that makes one dental office perceived by patients as being better than the other? Does the patient really know if the dentistry being provided in one office compared to another is actually better dentistry? When a crown is placed on number fifteen is there a way the patient truly knows that it was seated perfectly? Even in our own mouths, as dental professionals, unless we are doing our own dentistry do we even know the quality of the work being done?

Alright, we as dental professionals may have a good idea, but without being able to watch the actual procedure, evaluate all of the margins, see the actual probings, and check with an explorer after a professional hygiene appointment even we do not know for sure the quality of work.

So….what makes a patient perceive one dental office as being better than another? The next time you enter or do business with any service-oriented profession, think to yourself what makes me like it here more than someplace else.  Here are some things that may make your office out shine other offices when it comes to the eyes of your patient. We have all gone to seminars where they recommend you walk in the front door as if you are a patient and evaluate the experience for ourselves, but how many people have really taken the time to do it?

  • Are you greeted by a smiling face, a warm hello, and your name?
  • Is the reception area clean?
  • Is the office cluttered?
  • Is there dust?
  • Are the operatories visibly clean?
  • Did you wash your hands in front of the patient?
  • Are you touching other things and going directly back to the patient’s mouth?
  • Is anybody wearing gloves outside of the operatories?

Patients like to be recognized as they walk in the office. This may be done by a picture in the computer, the chart, or by having an employee that is good with names and faces.

Everyday, all team members should look at the reception room when they go and get their patients. If something needs straightened up it should be taken care of. This is especially important when there have just been a lot of children in the area. This should be added to one of the employee’s job descriptions, but everybody should help.

Over the course of the years, I have had many patients inform me that they left their previous dentist because they did not see regular hand washing or the office was not clean. Maybe the offices were clean and maybe the team was washing their hands regularly but it is the perception of the patient that matters.

Make sure that if the patient is not able to see you wash your hands that you inform them, “Sandy, we will get started as soon as I wash my hands, excuse me for just a minute.”

Clean off your countertops. If something has alginate on it or any type of substance and you can see it and it does not come off, replace it. It may be clean but if it does not look clean it does not matter.

In addition to the appearance of the office, the appearance of the staff is equally important. It is important that employee evaluations include that they appear professional. As employees, take time to iron your scrubs, pull your hair back so the patient is not concerned with it getting into their mouths or on the instruments. Wear shoes and clothing that are appropriate for the office.

Every individual will want to be treated differently. Being able to interpret different personality types will help with knowing how to approach patients. However, there are certain things that we as dental professionals may do to make our office be the gold medal winner when it comes to customer service.

After a long procedure, call the patient and see how they are doing.
If a patient is nervous, continually ask during the procedure if the patient is doing all right. If they say no, stop, listen, and determine what you or a staff member may do to make the experience better for them. Call the patient later that day and see how they are doing. Start and finish appointments at the times the patients are scheduled.

Follow through by returning patient phone calls. Even if you are still talking with another doctor, an insurance company, or waiting for your own doctor to get back, return the phone call and let the patient know that you are following up and will get back to them, and when you will get back to them. The other important part of this is to get back to them.

Let’s face it, our dentistry may be the best in the world but if our dental team does not provide quality customer service, our patients may go elsewhere. Every patient that enters the doors of your practice should be treated as the special individual that they all are.

Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department?
Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com.

Interested in having Jean speak to your dental society or study club Click Here.

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