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Episode : #837: Beyond Hello: Creating Lasting First Impressions in Dental Offices

Podcast Description

Dana and Tiff dive into the topic of creating exceptional first impressions in dental offices. They explore practical strategies for creating a welcoming atmosphere that instills confidence and trust in patients from the moment they arrive. From personalized greetings to thorough attention to cleanliness and organization, they emphasize the importance of every detail in shaping a positive patient experience.

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TRANSCRIPT:

The Dental A Team (01:04:00.494)

Hello, everybody. We’re so excited to be here. Dana and I just brainstormed just a second on what we were going to chat about today. We’ve always got our topics, but we kind of have to brainstorm. And sometimes they feel like, gosh, Dana, I was like, I don’t know, I feel like we just did this one. But I think we can dive deeper. And I think you’ve got me spinning in a different direction that I hadn’t even thought of. That is the power of teamwork. So Dana, thank you for being here. Thank you for spinning my brain always and seeing that other side you actually.

You just come and clutch with that a lot during team meetings, during consulting, during podcasting. Like you really truly are able to see a different side that I don’t always see. So thank you. Thank you for being here. How are you doing today? Good. Thanks for having me. You know, these are always so fun. I know. I love it. I love how we get to see each other now. When we started these, we couldn’t see each other and we could just be wearing, you know, pajamas or whatever we wanted, but it’s okay.

But I do love that we get to see each other. I remember like the first couple ones we had all three of us, we had Niki and Brit on there. And it was like so weird. And we were like, is this so weird? And now it would be really weird not to see you. Weird how, it’s funny how like quickly that switches. So if you’re listening, know that there’s a video out there on the interweb somewhere. If you could see our blonde hair and beautiful faces anytime you want. I think it’s on, I think we started putting them on YouTube every time and they’re always on Instagram.

probably TikTok, I would assume that it’s on TikTok. I should know these things. But anyways, today we are talking about first impressions. So if you haven’t listened to it yet, we did a deep dive on the phone call and how that value of the first phone call can turn into a scheduled appointment. So that was kind of our first impressions phone call. This time we’re gonna deep dive a little bit further into the patient actually coming to the practice.

So they’ve already had the phone call, they’ve already been scheduled, they’ve already gotten the confirmation emails and texts, and you’ve gotten the paperwork, all of those pieces, and now they’re coming into the office. So Dana, this was your brainchild. You were like, no, we’re going to do an office. I think it’s brilliant. Duh. Duh, Tiff. How do you want that to look for your practices? If you were to walk into one of the practices that you’ve consulted, how do you expect that first impression to go?

The Dental A Team (01:06:18.254)

I want it to be so warm and welcoming and that the instant the patient walks in, this is a place that they want to be. They feel comfortable being dental, right? We know it can be an anxiety space for a lot of patients. And I think more patients, right? Than not. They anticipate maybe pain, some discomfort, some maybe even embarrassment because they don’t love what their teeth look like or, you know, they’re just,

generally in pain from coming in, right? They’re coming in to deal with pain. And so that can be an anxiety space for a lot of people. And the more warm and welcoming they feel from the second that they walk in, again, it’s just that safe space, right? That trust that we always try to build in every experience across the board for our patients. So when they feel that when they walk in, when you introduce for yourself, when you say you’re so excited, oh my gosh, I’ve been talking to you. I’m so excited to meet you.

And then you can direct them on what to do. You can show them areas of the practice. It just sets up the tone from the very beginning that you want them to feel throughout the appointment. Absolutely. It’s just that relationship build, right? I feel much more at ease. And honestly, I feel like if something if I feel comfortable, confident, I feel like I trust you just from the get go from that interaction. And if I feel like, gosh, I could like I feel comfortable talking to you.

if something were to happen that is less than ideal, I’m like, ah, whatever, right? So I agree. I think that first impression walking through the door should be warm and inviting, welcoming. That person should be smiling. I love, I contact you guys and like as soon as that door opens, you’re looking up. I know we’re in the computer. I know we’re on the phone. Even if you’re on the phone, you’re looking up and you’re like, like, I’ll be right there, right? You’re, you’re mouthing to them what needs to be, what needs to be said. Um,

and making sure that they just feel that welcome. One thing that I love is when patients walk in and I have a practice that’s like, oh my gosh, Dana, welcome. Dana’s like, how did you know it’s me? I used to do that with my friend office and when I was in the front office, my check -in, and I would, every patient I knew, right, like, oh, this must be this person, this must be, I had so many patients that would say,

The Dental A Team (01:08:41.294)

I know you have the schedule, like how do you know that it’s me every time? And I’m like, well, if I’m honest, I got three men and one lady coming in at 2 p .m. I know you’re not Joe, Bob or Gary and they would laugh, right? But I’d be like, honestly, like I’m reading my schedule. I know enough about my patients who are coming in to guess who this is. If Joe says he’s 17, Gary says he’s 45. When a male walks in,

the door, I’m not going to be like, what’s your last name? I’m going to be like, oh, he looks older than 17. I’m going to be like, oh, hey, Gary, how are you? Right? So know your schedule, know your patients, be welcoming, be inviting. And if you use your patients names or Mrs. Smith, right? I know there’s a lot of states in the country that thrive on the Mrs. and the Mr. West Coast. I always say we’re the wild, wild west out here. I’ll call you whatever I can think of in the moment.

But use their names, be inviting, say hello Dana. Like Dana, how are you today? Ask questions and let them feel like you’re welcoming them into your home, right? Dana, I like to say, I have practices, I’m like, if you go to a party, right, or you’re throwing a party and people are coming into your home, and if you’re not, you go to a party and you’re not welcomed, you’re not introduced to the host, you’re not like, you don’t know anybody there or you’re searching for the person you know, me,

my introverted extroverted self, I am going to go to the food and the drinks. And I’m going to have something in my hands that’s going into my mouth so that people don’t feel the need to come bother me. I’m going to be busy, right? Because it keeps me, it keeps me from feeling awkward and uncomfortable. So walking into a practice, I don’t want your patients to feel awkward and uncomfortable either. So I love that. Dana, know your patients, smile.

Be prepared, right? Warm, inviting, and welcoming. What else do you feel like really sets the tone for that first impression? Maybe even like not even just how that person’s welcoming them, but just office -wise, what else sets the tone for that first impression? Yeah, I actually was just in a practice in Virginia Beach and like their welcome was fantastic. They had a comfort menu. They figured out what the patient wanted on the TV. Do they have a specific channel? What was the music that they wanted in their operatory?

The Dental A Team (01:11:09.198)

Did they want aromatherapy? Like all of those spaces. And you may not have to offer all of those things, but I think it is how can you prep, right? So that then their transition to the back is super smooth. Do you need anything updated in your system from them? Are they aware of where the bathroom is, right? You assistants can attest that there nothing is more frustrating than you come out and get the patient. And as you’re walking in the back, they’re like, well, can I use the bathroom? Right? Sure you can, but it would have been nice if you had used it before I came to get you.

And so in the front, if I can say, oh my gosh, Tiff, welcome to the practice, the bathroom’s over here, feel free to use it. Just a quick update from you right here. Here’s our comfort menu, anything you like, right? Then the patient is 100 % prepared. I am prepared and I can give anything to my clinical team that they need so that the welcome on their end can be as smooth as possible too. Yeah, I totally agree. I love that. That’s a great idea, a comfort menu. I think a lot of doctors are writing that one down.

So know your patient’s smile, be prepared, comfort menu so that their transition is as smooth as possible. And then I used to always think, what are my patients seeing when I walk in the doors? When they walk in the doors. So as the like front office, I would go out in the front and walk through the doors. And in Phoenix, it gets really hot. I don’t know if you guys know this or not. So we had like door handle covers, but they’d get dirty, right? Or we’d forget to put them on. So I’d go out and just double check.

Sometimes the A -frame is on the ground because it’s windy. But like if we’re not getting up and checking these things, right? I walk up and I’m like, oh, okay. And then I touch the handle and it’s well, scorching hot, because it is, right? I’m like, that’s my first impression. Like A -frame down, hot handle, right? Walk in and is there trash? I remember, gosh, 2 .30 PM to 4 PM prime child time.

Oh my gosh, we’d have hot cocoa cups, all strong about all the games were out. There’s candy wrappers everywhere. There’s napkins. I’m like, where did they even find the napkins? There’s we had a coffee thing. There’d be sugar packets opened. I had a lady. I had a lady open the K cup thing and put it in the in the Keurig and then try to run it. And I had dirty water for days. Like, there’s so many things right that

The Dental A Team (01:13:34.03)

pace that’s happening out in that lobby area that we’re not generally aware of. But if we get up a couple times a day, and we go out and we think what’s my patient’s experience when I walk into this room, if I walked into the chaos that those afternoons were, I would be like, this place is trashed. And I don’t think I would think, well, there must have been a lot of kids in here, right? Because the kids weren’t there anymore. If the kids were there, sure. But when the kids are gone, and it’s

completely tracked. If I walk into that, I’m like, wow, this is weird, right? Or walking up, I know my doctor hated me for my sticky notes, and I couldn’t have my sticky notes until I had my own office that patients weren’t coming to, right? But walking up and there’s a million sticky notes and like papers are thrown about and it just looks disorganized. So I think your first impression is how you’re feeling like you’re welcome, right? How is how is how is the team welcoming you into the practice? How does that feel?

But then also, what’s the feeling when you’re walking into the building? Is it clean? Was your entrance clean? Is the parking lot maintained? Is it chaotic out there? Are the chairs strewn about? Are they dirty? A lot of times people would spill the coffee or food that they brought in and there’d be a stain on the chair. So like, those are the things we have to look for too, when we’re looking for not only just our first impression, but a patient that may have been coming here for years. I used to have patients that’d be like,

Did you know that this is over here? I’m like, no. If that were my house, I would cry, right? Like, no, I am inviting you into my home. And this is what my expectation is. If I were to invite you to my actual home, I would have cleaned it before you came. And now you’re coming to a space where you’re going to be sitting with your mouth open for at least 30 minutes, if not longer. And I’ve got things strewn about in the lobby where you’re sitting. Not cool.

bathrooms, making sure the bathrooms are clean, making sure your water’s soft, if you’ve got water, coffee bar or whatever, making sure that the amenities are stopped. They’re not going to ask for it. They’re just going to be like, oh, that sucks. Like, didn’t get a water today. Didn’t get a water next time either because it’s still empty. Look for those pieces. So what is the actual impression? What’s the feeling? And oftentimes, I like to make people switch. I talk about that a lot. So I’ll make the dental assistant go walk through the front as

The Dental A Team (01:15:58.51)

dental assistant because you’re seeing it all day. If you’re sitting up there, you’re seeing it all day and we get blind, right? We have blind spots. Same with dental assistants. So sometimes I’ll hop to front office, walk the operatories and they’ll be like, oh, there’s dogs over there. Nope, there sure is. But I’ve been looking at it all day. I have impression material. Oh my gosh, Dana. Remember the alginate? Where we take epinates and then just the alginate everywhere. And I come out with my hair like wild and I’m like, where’s the broom?

How do I get rid of this? And I’ll be out in there for days, I swear. Those are the wild days. I hope people aren’t using Algenet still. I mean, I think there are still some spaces for it, but man, we use Algenet for everything. And it got wild and torn up those models. I would cry if there were all the bubbles at the end. Oh my gosh. It was, you guys.

Love where you’re at in dentistry now. Love those scanners. I’m so jealous. So first impressions, you guys, obviously the phone call, there’s a whole other episode on the phone call, but this first impression is what does it feel like when you walk through the doors? So what does it look like visually? How are you feeling walking into it visually? Do you feel like you’re welcomed into their home? Is it clean? What would you think if you’re walking into someone’s house and it looked like this? And you’re like, oh, I don’t think I really want to eat dinner anymore. I’m not very hungry.

They’re sitting there with their mouth open. Okay, so what does it feel like? What does it look like? Have your team row shambles, switch it up, walk through the practice in the opposite spaces that they work. And then also making sure we’ve got those amenities ready, that we’re welcoming, that we’re inviting, we’re smiling, and we’re greeting them by name if we can. Dana, you talked a lot about kind of just being prepared and making sure we’ve got what we need.

Anything else you can think of? You said the amenities list, I guess like paperwork style they may need, just making sure that we’re prepared. Did I miss anything in there that you want to make sure we add? No, I think we did it all. I think when patients feel like they’re prepared and you’re ready and right, Dennis, we have an expectation of cleanliness. And so if I walk in and everything is a mess, right? Well, you know, I want the space that I’m going to actually have my care done to be, to be, to be clean. So I think,

The Dental A Team (01:18:24.27)

Those are often pieces that we overlook. And those are often pieces that if I walk in and they’ve got my paperwork prepared and they’re ready and they’re not like in the back, oh wait, we forgot to have you do this, right? That’s just like something so small, but something that can truly make a big difference. I totally agree. I totally agree. I love it. Thank you, Dana. I love picking your brain. I tell you that all the time. I love that these are spaces you train on so much with your virtual and your in -person consulting. So thank you.

for sharing your wealth of knowledge with us today. Guys, if you have questions, if you have stuff you’re doing that you think is really cool that other people need to know about, share in our doctor community if you’re a part of that already. We have our Facebook groups and we have our five star view below, but also [email protected] But if you are a part of that doctor group, shoot it in there. I see awesome ideas coming through all the time. I know the other day they were talking, a lot of the doctors were talking about ways that they were like,

being thankful to their team, getting back to their team. That was really cool to see. So if you’ve got stuff that you’re already doing, drop it in our Discord chat of our doctor team. If you’re a part of that, if you’re not, reach out, find out how you can be a part of it. It’s a pretty awesome tool. We look forward to hearing from you guys. Thank you so much for being here and we’ll catch you next time.

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