Generate a Positive “First Impression”

Just sit back there...I'll call you when the doc can see you...

A first impression is a lasting impression.  An individual will receive their first impression of your practice based upon their interaction with your front desk staff.  Whether an individual calls on the telephone or walks into your practice off the street, your front desk staff delivers to them their first impression of your practice.  A person will make their decision to become a patient or to continue to receive care in your facility, or not, based on how they are treated by your front desk staff. 
Individuals clearly formulate an opinion on how the doctor thinks, works, and acts based on their interactions with the front desk person.  It makes no difference if you have a chiropractic practice or a business that deals with chiropractors.  The front desk is the key to getting and maintaining your customers.  
Since they are a focal point of your practice, it is extremely important that you evaluate your front desk staff from a distant and unbiased standpoint.  Take a look at the individuals running your front desk and evaluate them as if you have never met them before. 
Listen when they answer the telephone.  How do they treat the person on the other end of the line?  Do they sound caring and accommodating?  Or are they short and to the point?  How do they treat other doctors, such as a colleague or friend, when they telephone your office?  Ask people you speak with on the phone, “How did the front desk person treat you when you called in?  Did they seem warm and receptive to your conversation?” 
What is the demeanor of your front desk staff when dealing face-to-face with current or prospective patients?  Are they pleasant when answering questions or scheduling an appointment?  How is their enthusiasm for their job, their level of interest in the patient and their personality when interacting with others? 

Just sit back there...I'll call you when the doc can see you...

After you have taken an opportunity to evaluate your front desk staff, carefully consider the results of your findings.  Immediately address any areas of concern and then implement a formal training program.  Your front desk person should receive at least one hour of training per week.  Their training should focus on increasing their skills to become better communicators, handle patient objections and concerns to care, and also include sessions on becoming a better listener, paying attention to detail and duplicating what the patient is asking. 
Another important aspect in the training of your front desk staff is knowledge of your personal information.  The front desk person needs to be trained on your specific skills and abilities.  It is vital that they know your complete educational background, including what chiropractic college you attended.  They should be well versed in answering questions regarding chiropractic care and any special techniques you use in your practice.  It is advisable to periodically have one of your friends, colleagues or a family member call in and ask your staff members to describe the type of work you do as a chiropractor.  Your staff should be able to speak intelligently about your background and current chiropractic efficiencies. 
It is also important to set protocol for the front desk staff to follow under specific conditions.  For instance, what is the protocol when another doctor calls in to speak with you?  How should your front desk person handle this situation?  The front desk person should be trained to inquire what the call is regarding.  It is important to note if the call has to do with a current patient, sending a new patient to the clinic, or a similarly specific situation. 
You should have a protocol established so the front desk person is not put in a position of deciding if it would be okay to call the doctor back later.  The front desk person can not evaluate the importance of the call or the impact it may have upon your practice.  By putting a protocol in place, the front desk staff will know when to interrupt or when to take a message, based on their training of the protocol. 
A weekly training covering all areas discussed here will ensure that you continue to offer the very best first impression to the public.  If the information listed here is consistently followed, the level of “good” public relations that is fostered in your community will increase.  A friendly and well-trained front desk person will go far in providing a caring and professional environment that people would like to share.  It will make a “lasting” first impression! TAC

Dr. Maurice A. Pisciottano, CEO and founder of Pro-Solutions for Chiropractic, is a practicing chiropractor, noted lecturer, author, producer and research and development technologist.  He is well known for his practice management expertise, as well as new patient development programs.  He has devoted the past twelve years to the development of the instrumentation and the computerization of chiropractic treatment and documentation.  Dr. Pisciottano regularly lectures at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, IA, and at Logan College of Chiropractic in St. Louis, MO.  He can be reached at Pro-Solutions for Chiropractic in Pittsburgh, PA, at 1-877-942-4284.

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