How to Keep Front Office Conversations Professional
You just received a call from an unhappy patient – at home. Mrs. Smith is upset because your Front Office Manager, Susan, treated her rudely while trying to collect payment for a past due bill over the phone. Susan didn’t mean to be rude, but she’d had a long day and admits to losing her patience.
Yes, Susan feels bad about what happened – but the damage is done. The patient is unhappy with the practice, and Susan is now nervous about making collections calls.
The fact is, these conversational “oops” moments can happen to anyone on your team, but you can’t simply let them slide. Whoever trips up needs more than a reprimand, especially when their usual patient skills are satisfactory.
When this happens, the team member should call the patient to apologize. In Susan’s situation, she might say something like, “Mrs. Smith, I was definitely out of line, and I apologize.” The apology should be delivered with compassion and sincerity. I suggest practicing the apology before calling to make sure it translates that way. Remember, this isn’t the time to make excuses or be overly dramatic. The team member should apologize and then drop it.
Scripts Can Help
- Who is the responsible party on the account?
Here are a few other common conversational slip-ups that can happen in the dental office and how you and your team members can avoid them:
Forgetting The Patient’s Name
Using Dental Jargon
Don’t try to impress your patients with your dental knowledge or use technical language when explaining treatment. This will only leave them feeling confused and maybe even insulted – and less likely to accept treatment. Speak on their level, and educate them on the benefits of treatment and the potential consequences of ignoring problems in their mouth.
The “Tireless Talker”
Another option? The team member can say something like “I’ve taken far too much of your time and I have to call some patients. Perhaps we can talk at your next visit.” This gets him or her out of the conversation without hurting anyone’s feelings.
The more prepared your office is, the less likely your team members will have these “oops” moments when talking with patients. Develop scripts and practice them as a team to create clearly defined office communications. This will help you achieve positive results and provide your patients with excellent customer service – leading to satisfied, loyal patients who are happy to call your practice their dental home.
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