Regular patients are easy to deal with. You already know their history and you’ve probably established a rapport with them already. But new patients are a whole different story.
As a dental assistant, your role in welcoming new patients is crucial. It can affect the likelihood of them coming back and becoming regular at the clinic. So, you need to make an extra effort to make their first appointment a good one.
Give Them a Warm Welcome
When new patients walk into the clinic and approach you, instead of continuing what you’re doing or ignoring them completely, say hello and be genuinely warm, friendly, and caring. Remember, they’re not just coming to your clinic. They’re coming to your office, which means they’re being subjected to your behavior as well.
So a warm welcome and a smile are a good way to start. Once they’re in your chair, accept their insurance card, and you’ll have a much easier time doing the rest of your job for them.
Clearly Explain the Process to Them
When you first welcome the patient, take a moment to clearly explain the process to them. Don’t assume they know how things work at the clinic. Let them know how long they can expect to be in the chair, what you’re going to do, and what kind of equipment you’ll be using.
This is especially important for children and other first-time patients. For example, if you know there’s going to be a lot of drilling, tell the patient that’s what you need to do. Then you can both be prepared for what to expect.
Patients are less stressed when they have a clear picture of what’s going to happen to them. And you’ll both be prepared to handle any unwelcome surprises.
Take Time to Answer Their Questions and Concerns
When a patient has a question, it’s your job to answer it for them. They don’t know you or the clinic, so they may have questions about the procedure or treatment. Or maybe they’re just nervous.
If you know the answer, tell them. If you don’t, find out and let them know. And if you don’t know, let them know you’ll have to find out and get back to them. The last thing you want to do is make them feel dumb for asking or that their question is stupid. This will only make the experience uncomfortable for them.
If they have a concern, they’ll probably be worried that they’re going to say something bad or offend you. Again, your job as a dental assistant is to calm them down, say that’s not the case, and help them feel better. This goes a long way with new patients.
Walk Them Out
When the appointment is over, walk the patient out. Again, this shows that you are genuinely warm, friendly, and caring and that you genuinely want them to have a good experience.
If they want to make another appointment, ask them politely when they’d like to return, write it down, and set it in their chart. However, let them know you’ll be ringing them and the doctor or hygienist. This is just a courtesy so they’re not surprised when you call, but it’s also good for you so you can double-check the appointment. This way, you won’t be running around trying to find them.
When a patient has a good experience at a dental clinic, they’re more likely to schedule future appointments, even if they’re not regular patients. So if you’re a dental assistant, take it upon yourself to make the experience better for them. From a warm welcome, to clearly explaining the procedure to them, to answering their questions, to offering them to schedule another appointment, take the time to make it a great first experience for your new patients.
Learn the ropes to becoming a stellar dental assistant with the help of Northwest Suburban College. With our certified dental assistant program, you could complete your training and be prepared to pursue a rewarding career in only 32 weeks, including eight weeks of hands-on training. Get in touch with us today!