Here’s How Your Front Office Can Improve Their Verbal Skills
If your practice is short-staffed and stressed out, we have the perfect verbal skills your front office needs to address your staffing shortage to your patients.
Dental practices are facing the critical problem of mismatched supply and demand. As the COVID mandates lift, many businesses are experiencing an influx of patients ready to return to the dentist. According to a survey from late 2021, dental practices saw patient volume reach 89%, the highest since March 2020.
At the same time, dental practices face a staffing shortage in the front and back dental offices, making it hard to meet patient demand for care. Many hygienists voluntarily left their roles during the pandemic, either to early retirement or amid fears of transmission while working closely with patients. And according to a 2021 ADA Health Policy Institute survey, 90% of dentists surveyed said that recruiting dental hygienists was “extremely” or “very challenging.” Quality dental front office employees are also hard to come by. And in most cases, these team members bear the brunt of the backlash of limited staffing in the form of frustrated patients and an accumulation of administrative work such as billing and form processing.
Of course, the long-term solution to the problem is to hire more team members. In the meantime, however, dental practices can help manage the chaos by helping the dental front office refresh their patient communication skills. Good verbal or “soft skills” can significantly affect patient satisfaction and retention rates. Even if your office isn’t busy, excellent verbal skills can go a long way toward reducing complaints and heading off potential problems before they start. Solid communication skills can also help your team members feel empowered to navigate complicated interactions and improve productivity and motivation, ensuring your dental practice runs smoothly.
How to Communicate with Your Dental Patients
If you retain nothing else from this post, remember this—two things support the foundations of good patient communication:
- Be honest with your patients; they appreciate transparency, even if the answer isn’t exactly what they want to hear.
- Active listening will ensure you truly understand what your patients need and allow you to respond appropriately. When in-person, pay attention to what your patients say and their body language. Consider repeating patients’ concerns and needs back to them, so they know you understand their concerns.
With these principles in mind, here are some examples of how your team can courteously respond to patients and solutions that can help you promptly meet patients’ needs.