Raise your value with your dental reception area.
First impressions matter. This is true for almost everything in life, and it especially applies to your dental office. From first-time patients to long-time devotees, your doors are constantly revolving with people seeking premium, professional care. Your dental reception area is the very first thing they’ll notice when they walk inside. Does it appear warm and inviting? Or, is it generic and bland?
You don’t have to completely overhaul or redesign this space to give it the special touch it needs. Today, we’re sharing a few simple changes you can implement to create a reception area that your patients will love.
1. Offer patients a beverage.
As patients wait for their turn to be called back, it helps to have a refreshing beverage in hand. This is one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to elevate the patient experience. Plus, it can also clean their teeth a little and help them avoid dry mouth.
Choose an unused corner of your reception area, and set up a self-serve beverage station. Offer several flavors of single-serve coffee pods, as well as bags of green tea. A small mini refrigerator can be a great place to store bottled water.
As they flip through magazines or scroll their phones, they’ll appreciate something nourishing to sip on. Remember to stock the station with plenty of recyclable cups, napkins, and stirrers.
2. Practice friendly greetings.
A dental office might not exactly be Central Perk, but it can sure feel as welcoming as the famous ”Friends” hangout! Train your staff to greet each patient by name as soon as they walk in. This small act can make a major difference and helps you establish an environment where everyone feels comfortable and invited.
After exchanging initial greetings, continue the conversation by asking how each patient is doing. Tell them you’re glad they’re visiting with you today, and ask if they have any questions. As you do, remember that insincerity is easy to spot. If your patients feel like your receptionists are just going through the motions or reading off a script, then these interactions can do more harm than good. To avoid this risk, check out these eight tips that can help you deliver authentic customer support.
Some of the top strategies include:
- Ditching canned clichés.
- Speaking with clarity.
- Keeping the conversation customer-focused.
- Being honest and transparent.
A genuine exchange can especially ease the minds of patients who might be suffering from dental anxiety. Feeling ignored or like just another number can exacerbate those feelings of uneasiness. They may have questions or concerns that they’re afraid to voice, so reach out to them first to alleviate that stress.
3. Provide reading material.
A great selection of the latest lifestyle or news magazines can be a welcome sight in any dental reception area. Make sure these are easily accessible to patients and rotate them frequently to display the newest editions. To make sure all of your patients can find something they like, stick with general-interest publications like People, Good Housekeeping, or Time.
In addition, try to carve out a section of reading material that caters to children. These can be board books, easy chapter books, or even children’s magazines, like Highlights or National Geographic Kids. This way, they can stay occupied and engaged while their parents are at their dentist appointment.
As you design your reading section, this is a good time to assess the lighting in your reception area. Bright lights not only make it easier for patients to see what they’re reading, but they can also make the atmosphere feel happier and more energetic!
4. Choose furniture carefully.
Take a look at the furniture that you currently have set up in your reception area. Are the chairs comfortable and supportive, or hard and scratchy? Proper seating is essential to this space and can influence the experience that each patient has.
While they might require an initial investment, great-sitting chairs are always worth it. One feature that you can’t afford to skip? Make sure that all of the furniture has wide, sturdy arms. This way, patients and visitors will have a dedicated spot to put down their coffee, water, or even their purse. Space the chairs out enough so that patients don’t feel too crowded, and keep walkways wide to encourage easy traffic flow. Make sure you choose area rugs that are easy to spot treat and don’t require extensive upkeep to maintain.
5. Offer healthy snacks.
If you have a little extra space, you can also offer healthy snacks, such as fresh fruit and individually sealed packs of crackers. Look for refreshments that won’t make too much mess or leave patients with sticky hands. Bananas, apples, and small mandarin oranges are great choices.
Of course, it also goes without saying that it’s best to steer clear of junk food like chips and candy! This would be a smart spot to post signs or brochures that inform patients on easy snack swaps that their dentist approves. For convenience, be sure to leave a small trash receptacle nearby to contain any crumbs and clutter.
6. Add color and personality.
It can be cost-prohibitive to completely renovate the reception area in your office; however, if you want to grow your dental practice, then this room should be as appealing and patient-friendly as possible.
Start by considering your current color palette. While neutrals definitely have their place in interior design, they aren’t always friendly and inviting. Especially if you provide pediatric dentistry or family dentistry services, it can help to add a bold accent wall that gives the space a little personality!
Choose a happy shade that will work well with the other accents in the area. You can also select one that complements your signage and branding. Either way, don’t be afraid to add a little color and warmth. You can even decorate with dental-themed posters or artwork from your pint-sized patients!
7. Offer free Wi-Fi.
Many patients will schedule their dental visits during their lunch break. Or, they may leave their office early to attend their appointment. When this happens, they may need to access their smartphones or laptops to work while they wait.
By offering free Wi-Fi, you can meet this need and establish your office as a tech-savvy spot. Make sure there are outlets near seating areas so patients can plug in if they need to.
8. Add a natural touch.
You don’t have to turn your reception area into a garden or greenhouse, but adding a few plants can help liven up the space and create a more welcoming environment.
While potted plants last longer and are easier to look after, a bouquet of fresh-cut flowers can be an attractive addition to your receptionist’s desk. Plant-wise, look for varieties that grow well indoors and are easy to care for. For inspiration, check out these 12 houseplants that are nearly impossible to kill!
No matter which varieties you choose, make sure to keep them looking clean and well-maintained. Remove dead or yellowed leaves, prop up any stalks that look floppy, and change your cut flowers out regularly.
9. Keep it clean.
Even the smallest reception area can feel spacious if it’s clean and tidy. Dental offices are healthcare facilities, and it’s important to keep them neat and sanitary. While you may be diligent about wiping down surfaces and vacuuming carpets, it can be easy to overlook other areas like window coverings, furniture, and walls.
Whether you hire a cleaning crew or complete the work in-house, the important thing is to maintain a consistent and thorough cleaning schedule. Your patients and staff members alike will benefit from and appreciate this effort.
10. Play soft music.
Opinions differ on the type of music that you should play in a reception area or waiting room, or if you should even have background music at all. In a dental office, soft music can help drown out the sounds of dentists at work, and can also add a sense of privacy as patients discuss payment and insurance information with the receptionist.
It goes without saying that the musical selection should be tasteful, relaxing, and not offensive in any way. Classical music is a popular choice, as it doesn’t contain any distracting lyrics. You don’t want to disturb anyone who’s trying to read or work, so keep the volume low and stick to ad-free radios.
Optimize your dental reception area.
Your dental reception area should impress patients and encourage connection. With the right touches, you can make any space more attractive, inviting, and pleasant. As you implement the 10 tips above, we’re here to help you discover other exciting ways to ensure dental practice success. Feel free to check out our full list of available courses online to learn how to grow your practice by adding an orthodontic specialization. You can also join the AOS to unlock valuable resources, discounts, networking opportunities, and more.
To learn more about our popular orthodontics courses for pediatric and general dentists, check out one of the upcoming events below.