How To Gain Maximum Benefit From Verbal Communication in the Back Office: The Hygiene Notification

How To Gain Maximum Benefit From Verbal Communication in the Back Office: The Hygiene Notification

Technology is a wonderful thing.

It allows us to use mechanical items to replace humans.

And on many occasions this is definitely worthwhile.

However, in the Dental Office, there are times, when the automation of a human task is to the detriment of process in that office.

One such time is the point in the day when the hygienist requires the dentist to attend her treatment room to conduct the thorough Dental Examination for the hygiene patient.

This is one point in the dental day when maximum human interaction is a process of great benefit to the Dental Office, as well as to both the hygiene patient and the Dentist’s restorative patient as well.

I’ve discussed the how-to of this important stage in a previous blog

However the replacement of *maximum* human interaction by any form of automation or diminished human participation seriously detracts from the derived benefit the office gains in creating an inviting environment of caring coworkers behaving warmly and lovingly towards each other and towards their patients and towards their duties and roles within the office.

Thinking away from the Dental Office for just a moment, nothing turns a client or a customer away from a business more than having to deal with or do business with an employee or agent of that business who verbalises how much they don’t wish to or want to be there at work at that particular point in time.

Nor do customers like doing business with employees and agents who communicate those same feelings and emotions in a non-verbal manner through their actions and their tonalities.

And the opposite is true.

It is always such a great pleasure, in every part of day to day living, when we come across someone who enjoys their role in life with such passion that that passion exudes from their pores so freely that we as customers cannot do anything but be swept up with their enthusiasm.

So in the dental office we should not want to lose or forgo any opportunity to verbally communicate enthusiasm and love in our workplace just because the opportunity of automation of a process now exists, just because of automation.


And so it’s imperative that while we have the tools of automation available to us, there are some processes in the Dental Office that are still best performed out by humans [in a correct manner] rather than be replaced by automation.

Take a moment.

Can you remember having ever phoned an organisation where you’ve had to go through a multitude of questions and choices pressing number after number on your telephone keypad before you finally get to speak with a real live person?

It’s frustrating.

Because in that instance, we know what we want, and we know that if we were to ask a human, rather than be fed down a conveyer belt of automated questions and answers, not only would we save time, but we would also arrive where we want on our phone call in a much more relaxed frame of mind.

Because of the preparatory human interaction in getting us, as callers, from the ring, to where we want to go.

With human participation.

And we know, every time that we experience one of those phone calls, we know that that organisation is missing a great opportunity to reach out and “connect” with us, as a client or customer first and foremost.

And that’s what I don’t want us to forget when we design our delivery systems within our dental office.

As technical people, we dentists sometimes forget that there’s a human being with human feelings and human emotions connected to the teeth and the mouths that we perform our magic upon.

And I know that the Dentist can be notified by the press of a mouse or the activation of a light or buzzer.

I know that.

However, with all this background in mind, the opportunity of creating and executing a perfectly choreographed interaction of “connection” between the Doctor and the Hygienist is of far more benefit to the Dental Office than the “conveniences” created by automating and de-humanising the process.

Let me explain.

We decided that the best way for the dentist to be alerted to his summoning to the hygiene room was for the hygienist to come into the doctor’s treatment room and get the dentist herself.

When this is done correctly, the entry of the hygienist to the treatment room acts as an advertisement for the hygiene department, and also acts as an advertisement for the wonderful personality of the hygienist.

It allows the dentist to excuse himself from the treated patient and “introduce” the hygienist’s service, as he leaves the treatment room for a few minutes….if the dentist’s patient is known to the hygienist it also allows opportunity for the hygienist to “acknowledge” the doctor’s patient….in all cases the personable arrival of the hygienist is a positive interruption for the practice…with a positive result.

This is because it also allows us, as mentioned in previous blogs, to expose and show off our air of kindness atmosphere and culture, in the way we herald and announce this interruption to the Dentist.

So, here’s what the hygienist says and does….

Firstly, the hygienist enters the dentist’s treatment room. She knows where to stand, so that her presence is known, and then she starts speaking. She stands just to the right side of the dentist. She has paperwork, including paper notes, that she can show the dentist if need be, without him having to turn or crane.

Her script, when she speaks, is polite and friendly, but more importantly it is purposeful. She has a specific message to inform the doctor, as well as a specific subliminal message for the patient being treated.

She says, “Excuse me Dr Moffet”.

I say, “good morning/ good afternoon/ hello, Jenny” followed by a pause.

Jenny then says, “I have Mrs. Mary Smith in today [pause].” Then either, “She’s a new patient to the practice” or “she’s in for her regular six-month/three-month hygiene visit”.

This tells the patient being treated by the dentist, who is listening intently by the way, that the Dental Practice welcomes new patients, or that the practice encourages regular hygiene visits. Again, as mentioned in previous blogs, we are not too concerned with identifying patients as it gives patients a name, and identity, rather than not. The advantages of identifying far outweigh the risk of privacy breaches…just saying.

Jenny then says, depending, whether Mrs. Smith has anything to be really investigated or not….she will usually say “and her teeth and gums are in excellent condition”, or “there a few areas I need you to look at…”

Jenny may even *advertise* some of our services…. “she’s interested in Invisalign/ some porcelain veneers…” or “there are a couple of teeth with large old restorations that I think may require porcelain crowns….”, again planting some seeds or confirming some treatment options that the patient with the dentist may be also having, or may also be considering.

The dentist then usually replies indicating when and whether he will be down to the hygiene room, and when he does go, there is always a pleasant and friendly apology to the patient being treated.

If he is not able to excuse himself immediately, there is opportunity for the doc to inform the patient being treated anything from, “that’s Jenny our hygienist, you’ll be seeing her soon, she is so gentle…” to “oh Mrs. Smith, she has been coming here every six moths for must be about twenty years now….”

I can’t emphasise enough that over all of this is laid an atmosphere of pleasantry, respect for all, and clear and concise communication, so that the interruption to the patient being treated is felt as minimally as possible.

It takes time and practice to develop these sorts of protocols and procedures that subliminally and indirectly send messages of goodwill to your patients. But the time taken is worth it.

And the resulting benefits to everyone far outweigh the inconveniences of learning these processes.

It builds credibility and notoriety that your dental office cares, and is different.

And that’s what it’s all about….



Performing truly World Class Handovers and Notifications is one of the many detailed components of The Ultimate Patient Experience, a simple easy to implement system that I developed that allowed me to build an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb.  If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

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Would You Tolerate These Behaviours In YOUR Dental Office?

Would You Tolerate These Behaviours In YOUR Dental Office?

It seems in today’s day and age I’m hearing more and more stories, true stories, about staff and team members in Dental Offices with the most bazaar and recalcitrant attitudes.

Why is that?

Is anybody else hearing these sorts of tales?

Here are three more crack up stories from my vault…

Story #1.

Heard a tale this week about an endodontist’s wife who worked as his Practice Manager and Front Office Person.

Actually, it was two tales from two different referring Dentists about the same woman.

Now the endodontist is renowned for his exceptional skills and his work. Period.

In the first part of this story, a referring Dentist’s wife attended the endodontist for treatment. At the end of the appointment, embarrassingly, the patient had only brought her American Express card with her, and the Endodontist’ Office did not accept American Express.

No big deal, thought the patient. Patient said, “When I get home this afternoon, I’ll phone in with my Visa Card number to settle for the account.”

Problem solved.

Or was it?

Less than thirty minutes after leaving the Sydney CBD office, the patient received a follow up phone call from the Endodontist’s wife to chase up the payment.

From the wife of a referring dentist?





Second story from another Dentist about this same Wife of the Endodontist.

Seems that another specialist referred a “difficult” patient, with a few issues, to the Endodontist.

And apparently the patient was “difficult”, at his appointment.

So the wife of the Endodontist gets on the phone to the referring Dentist and screams down the handset into the ear of the referring specialist an expletive laden exclamation of “Why the #$%@ did you send us that patient?”

All I can say is that life must be good at that Endodontic Office if they can happily deal with referring Dentists in such a bad, bad way….

Story #2.

True story.

New arrival wonder employee shows up at the front office of a Dental Office and within days has improved New Patient numbers, reactivations and appointment book layout. And office production.

Figures for first month there are up, across the board.

Then this.

New wonder employee hands in her resignation.

After three weeks.

Accepted a new job and wants to finish up in two weeks.

Digging deep, the Owner Dentist finds out from new Wonder Girl that long-term office manager is not allowing new Wonder Girl to perform her magic.

New wonder girl has a long list of examples, including:

  • Long-term office manager likes to leave early, so practice never has an afternoon of patients. Like, never.
  •  Long-term office manager wont let new wonder girl do treatment plan presentations to patient. Rather, Office Manager hoards these presentations and “takes them over”…

And so on….

As expected, New Wonder Girl says she will think about not quitting if Long Term Office Manager is fired.

Heard this one before?

Yes. Sometimes employees do check out mentally, some time before the end their employment. Or before their employment is ended.

And there’s a history of other employees who have left, in frustration, because they had difficulty with working with Long Term Office Manager.

And yes. We’ve seen it in other parts of our own office. Employees get comfortable.

And protect that comfort level.

Often to the detriment of the Dental Practice….

So what would you do?

Well it seems that in this case, the Owner Dentist had an Ah-Ha Moment….

The Owner Dentist identified the traits of a *Covert Hostile*.

And within twenty four hours, the Owner Dentist had interviewed ALL other team members, and suddenly had a little bit more truth to the matter.

As is consistent with a Covert Hostile person, there was serious behind the scenes white-anting activity going on.

And so, with expert precision, the Owner Dentist accepted the resignation of New Wonder Girl a.k.a. Covert Hostile, and the rest of the team breathed a sigh of relief.

As did the Owner…

I must take my hat off to the Owner. I commend her on her ability to identify and surgically remove this *Bad Apple* so quickly, and with such precision.

Would you have?

Story #3.

Saving the best for last…

Do you remember the story a few weeks back about the hygienist who booked her own travel without requesting leave?

And then resigned?

And re-arranged the appointment book to suit her social life…

Well it seems she now has started sending abusive emails to the practice she just left.

Seems the Doctor was introducing the temporary Hygienist to a patient and extolling the new hygienist’s work ethic. And some how word travelled across town very quickly to the departed hygienist.

In Smokey and the Bandit, Burt Reynolds said:

“What’s behind ya’s behind ya.”

And though Burt was talking about time, and highway road travel, in all these cases, these less than ideal behaviours are occurring behind the dentist’s back.


While the poor old dentist works diligently on patients, team members are not behaving in the best interests of the business.

There’s no reason for a Dental Office to tolerate these sorts of employees.

Every employee is replaceable.

And behaviours outside of company culture and policy, along with common courtesy, need to be addressed.


Correct hiring is one of the many modules that comprise The Ultimate Patient Experience is a simple to build complete Customer Service system in itself that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb. If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

Email me at

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Three Simple Ways To Ensure All Your Patients Have Crystal Clear Dental Clarity

Three Simple Ways To Ensure All Your Patients Have Crystal Clear Dental Clarity

Last week, in discussions I had while visiting a client’s offices, I was asked what really sets aside a World Class Customer Experience at a Dental Office from just an average experience.

And the answer is simple.

It’s the WOW factor.

Its that continual ability to maintain and exhibit a higher level of care towards our patients and clients and to show that care each and every time we see them no matter what.

It’s doing this on a regular basis, each and every time, that goes a long way to setting your Dental Office apart as being truly World Class, in providing exceptional Care towards your patients.

More than any other Dental Office around.

More than any other Dental Office they’ve ever been to before!

One of the essential premises of providing World Class Dental Customer Service is that we need to keep the patient informed as to exactly what is going on for them on this visit, and every visit so that there are no unexpected surprises for them during their time with us.

And to do that routinely each and every time they visit our office is an art form that all Dental Offices need to Master if they are truly going to be the Provider of a World Class Experience for each and every one of their Dental Patients.

Because at the end of the day, so to speak, Mr. and Mrs. Public have the following beliefs about Dentistry:

  1. They believe that all dentists have an equal level of adequate competency.They believe that every dentist out there can do good dentistry.
  2. They have a belief that every Dental Office is run by competent staff members, who can set up a treatment room properly, maintain appropriate health and cleanliness standards, and file their payments correctly.They believe that all Dental Offices share this level of consistency.

This means that how Mr. and Mrs. Public choose their dentist is really based upon how well they were looked after and how welcome they were made to feel.

Nobody anywhere, wherever they go, likes to feel like they are made to feel unwelcome, or like an inconvenience, just because they happen to be there.

And let’s face it, going to the dentist is difficult enough anyway for most of the population, without them ever having to feel like they are an inconvenience or unwelcome in somebody else’s day.

The number one priority for all of us as Dental Office employees and Owners is to be able to read that invisible sign that exists above every patient’s head that reads:

“Make Me Feel Important.”

And one of the easiest ways of making the clients and customers at our Dental Office feel important is to go out of our way to make sure that they have a precise understanding of exactly what we they are having done, why they are having that done, and the urgency of having that procedure.

This thought process can clearly be summarized in the following two simple phrases:

No Surprises.


Clear Next Step.

It is imperative and essential that all our Dental Clients are prepared implicitly for everything that can happen to them at the Dental Office so that there is no element of surprise to their visit.

And the best way of doing this is through verbal communication of everything we need to do and what possible outcomes we may have, as we continue through with our treating of them.


Because a surprise for our customer is so unwelcome.

It’s unwelcome to them, because, as a surprise, they can feel a level of betrayal.

After all, they can feel that you have not prepared them for this possible scenario, and now they need to “get their head around” this divergence from the line of treatment that they thought they were going to receive.

It’s also unwelcome to the Dentist and to the Team.

Now the dentist has to pause his day and go over and explain something that for the patient should have been an “Oh well” response rather than a “What’s that?” sort of reaction.

And it’s the same out at the front Office.

When a patient emerges from the treatment room or the hygiene room with a course of treatment that they, the patient, have no idea at all why they need it and how come and how much…well that’s when all sorts of mixed emotions can erupt.

And betrayal could be one of those….

And with out the No Surprises, or simply, while ever there are unexplained surprises for our patients, there will never ever be A Clear Next Step.

Because clarity only comes with understanding.

Not with confusion.

And surprises at the Dental Office only create confusion.

The best way to create an environment of Understanding and Clarity for our patients is to make that environment as comfortable as possible for the receipt of all information.

And one of the keys to creating that comfortable environment is through the way that our team members speak to each other, and to our patients and customers and to our callers and visitors that are not patients of records.

Because our clients need to feel that they are entering a land of friendliness and respect.

Respect for them, from us.

And respect of each other, by us too.

And the easiest way of gaining that trust of the patient, is to take time, and spend time with them.

Children spell “love”, T. I. M. E.

Adults spell respect the exact same way.

And our clients will respect us, if we respect them.

And take the time.

And spend the time.

Talking about them.

Visiting about them.

Spending time with our clients and customers builds relationships.

It builds understanding.

It builds a respect.

A mutual respect.

And with that respect comes acceptance.

Acceptance off us.

Acceptance of each other.

And acceptance of what’s required.

So that there are no surprises.

Only clear next steps….



Creating an environment of No Surprses is one of the many detailed components of The Ultimate Patient Experience, a simple easy to implement system that I developed that allowed me to build an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb.  If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

Email me:

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