Creating a good first impression with your practice’s front of house is hugely important to start your relationship with new patients off on the right foot. It is the first face-to-face contact (as opposed to contact via your website or social media pages, or the telephone) that they have with you, so you need to make sure you get it right.
Just like when you or I visit somewhere new for the first time, be it a hotel, restaurant or a potential new home, we will get a feeling within the first few seconds of whether it’s the right place for us. It’s just the same for patients visiting your practice. There’s a range of factors that combine to create that feeling, but, ultimately, it’s about cultivating a positive, warm, friendly atmosphere.
Below are three things to consider to ensure you’re making the best impression you can from the beginning:
- It goes without saying that your reception area and waiting room should be neatly decorated, clean and tidy. In the day-to-day business of busy practice life this can easily become neglected, so try to establish a habit of regularly looking with fresh eyes at this area and making sure everything is up to scratch. There may be little ‘added extras’ you can do to up the ante and provide an even nicer experience for patients, for example having fresh flowers every week, using a reed diffuser or candle, providing daily newspapers, etc.
- If possible, create a private area away from the main reception desk where patients feel comfortable to discuss any delicate matters or to have more in-depth conversations. This will help to elevate your patient journey to the next level, and, of course, is even more important now that GDPR has come into force! Similarly, if you can have the phone away from the front desk that will enable more private conversations. It will also be less disruptive to the waiting room, meaning the front desk team can concentrate on patients in front of them.
- Avoid staff hanging around your front desk and chatting too much about their private lives – especially if there are patients waiting for attention. This can come across as unprofessional and unwelcoming. Why not instigate a rule that these kinds of conversations are kept away from the front desk and that all patients are immediately acknowledged with eye contact and a smile, particularly if the receptionist is on the phone at the time they arrive.
High standards are important when it comes to making the front desk experience the best it can be. To ensure they are being met, it’s worth considering setting them out in writing and having them in sight on reception and/or in your staff handbook. That way there will be no confusion and everyone will understand what is expected of them.