The thing about common courtesy, like common sense, is that it’s just NOT that common.
What you and I see as good manners and courtesy, others see as an effort, and often see as too much effort.
Remember that in previous blogs I have said all people, be they patients, customers or employees, and even ourselves, we all wear an invisible sign on our heads that reads “Make Me Feel Important!”
I also mentioned in another previous blog that two dental team members should never pass in a dental office corridor without a smile and verbal acknowledgement of each other. For a patient or customer to see “stony silence” happen is a kiss of death for your practice. When a customer experiences and witnesses a positive exchange, well that is uplifting and it adds “coin” to your practice. It raises the value that your customer sees within your office.
In a similar manner, I think all offices need to have a strict policy on morning greetings and afternoon farewells.
At my dental practice in Parramatta, we created specific policy to cover clearly the behaviours of team members who worked shorter time frames than the extended office hours.
We did this firstly, to cover morning situations, where a team member starts later than the opening time of the office. It was invented to overcome the awkward moment when the treated patient goes out to check out of the practice and encounters a different face that was not present an hour before when they arrived. We did it to eliminate the “Well who are you?” look from the patient and that “well you weren’t here when I arrived” comments.
So we asked all team members who enjoyed the later starting hours to do this: Upon arrival, the first thing they need to do is to visit all operatories and offices and say good morning. This involves a greeting to the doctor, the dental assistant and also, the patient in the chair.
And guess what? We found that this created many additional immediate benefits for our office.
Firstly, it raised the “friendly tone” of the office. It raised the friendly tone for all of us who worked there, but also, it raised the friendly tone in the eyes of the patients receiving treatment during the greetings. How nice is it to hear people pleasantly greeting each other?
It was important that the later starting team member also entered the treatment room rather than call from the door, or worse still call from a drive-by as they hurried down the hallway. Patients loved being recognized, too.
Secondly, it gave opportunity for the dentist to introduce the team member, if needed, to the treating patient, after they had left the room. This again created an added friendliness within the office, allowing the doc to say something like “that’s Betty, Mrs. Smith. She’s just joined our office from such and such, and she’s worked in dental for six years. She’s a great addition to our team.”
It also allows the doc to pass on any thoughts to the later starting person, that he may need to share, but is busy doing treatment…for example he might say “Good morning Betty, how are you? Can I ask you to do something for me please/ can I ask you to get Andrea for me please?….”
The counter to this is when a treatment room, with patient and staff and doctor, hears a number of other team members late arriving and walking and chatting down the hall. This image to me presents a missed opportunity to build rapport and brand..
We also implemented the same principles of friendly greeting when some team members leave before others. Having team members farewell other team members, and patients still in treatment, was another great opportunity to build rapport, build brand, and create an environment of friendly.
Again, it also gave an opportunity to spread nice stories about that team member. Doctor could say to the patient in treatment, something like “ Oh that’s Dr Smith our new assistant dentist. He’s great with children and the other patients of the practice really like him…..etc.”
[We also developed a protocol for passing on information in treatment rooms on when the doctor was required for hygiene checks, and also for letting the doctor know when patients arrive for their appointments…more on those in future blogs.]
The thing about the announced arrival and departure of team members in the practice is that it’s easy to do, and builds instant results…it is so nice for patients and team members to hear friendliness as opposed to hearing nothing, or even apathy…it does wonders for morale and it does wonders for your office image!
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