26 Nov Your Reception Team Don’t Need to be Told How to Answer the Telephone
That may sound like an odd statement coming from a the owner of a business that gets paid to help dental practices develop and grow, so what’s with the brave headline?
Well, it’s true for a start. In 12 years of working with dental practices, I have never yet met anybody that isn’t already perfectly skilled at communicating with others, they’ve managed to convince somebody to give them a job after all, perhaps it was you? So how can it sometimes be so complicated to see the results that you want at the desk?
Some of it is environmental of course, and we’re not doing anybody any favours by expecting them to really listen, when there is so much noise and distraction around – get the phones off the desk folks, that’s an easy one.
Some of it is historical and I expect there will be a letter in the post for suggesting it, but the days of ‘reception’ being an administrative job are over – the best are now looking and at last outside of dentistry for talent. The fact the talent don’t know a jot about dentistry or that you perceive they will never find their way around your mysterious dental specific computer system, are no longer excuses. Talented people learn fast.
Some of it is you. The mindset of ‘just cover the desk for a few hours’ should make you shudder as much as hearing the captain of your holiday aeroplane saying they’ve just popped a junior member of the cabin crew in the pilot’s seat. Talking to new and existing patients on the telephone is a proper job.
and the rest…well perhaps we’re just making excuses for an antipathy towards learning new things and that “we have always done it that way!” (the most perilous words in any business).
The answer? Well I’ve wrestled with that one for a few years but more than anything, I have had to resist the ever present temptation to hand out scripts and tell people what to say, however firmly crossed the arms of the longest serving protagonist amongst the reception team. Why? Well because handing out scripts and telling people exactly what to say may work at the drive thru’ (at least until you ask something that needs to go off script) but never seemingly that well in healthcare, or so I have observed and been told.
And yet, despite sometimes turning work away, typically for a request such as “Can you get my team to convert all the leads into appointments but avoid talking about the cost for now?” and that 2020 has been a bit of a stinker for us all, there has been a shift for some. I have been fortunate enough to work with some dental teams and to effect real change. This then isn’t about ‘reception training’ (although I am happy to concede to anybody that does it successfully). What we do is create a shift in thinking that creates change within dental teams.
Real change comes when dental teams take ownership of the results that you trust them to deliver for your dental practice. When your team take ownership and responsibility for the things that you and they care about, they don’t need to be told how to answer the telephone, they never really did. Once they get the why, we normally just need to tweak the how and the what.
As one client put it to me only last week…”Since you spent that time with the team, and although I can’t really say how you did it, everything for them and me has changed. It’s working.”