Friday, May 23, 2014

"Who are you, and what do you want?"

Okay, okay, so maybe I’m a bit over the edge about this issue.

Twenty-three years of managing the front office of a very successful dental practice taught me many extremely valuable life lessons.

Of course, I learned some specifics relating solely to how to react to a patient’s understandable nervousness about being in the dental chair.

Maybe even more important, I learned the best ways in which to communicate with the person on the other side of that counter—the one who will be paying for whatever services he is there to receive. Essentially, I practiced and perfected the golden rule of customer service: I treat others as I would like to be treated.   

Here’s a situation which applies to all business when calling to speak to a patient, client or customer. Nowadays most people have caller ID on their phones, but we can’t assume everyone does.

In the dental practice, a front office employee called each patient to confirm an appointment.

Early on, we intuited a few wives of patients were jarred to hear a sweet and friendly female voice popping right out and asking some iteration of, “Is [male person] there?” as soon as the phone was answered. The wife often hesitated and then, with more than a modicum of pique, inquired as to just WHO was calling!?

Eventually, those who called to confirm patients always, always identified the office and themselves first, before asking to speak to the patient.