Some 59.3 percent of patients say a friendly receptionist is “very important” to their comfort while in your waiting room, according to Jobson Optical Research’s 2011 Waiting Game report. Another 46.9 percent say a comfortable temperature is very important, while 44.9 percent cite comfortable chairs as very important. Some 25.8 percent find it very important to have reading materials available, while 13.1 percent consider it very important to have a television to watch. Another 11.2 percent say it is very important to have a children’s play area; 8.5 percent think modern decor is very important; and 6.6 percent find it very important to have computers to use.
Let’s rethink the importance of the position of receptionist in the practice. We spend a lot of marketing dollars to get a person who is not our patient to call our office to become our patient. Who is the first person the potential new patient talks to in our offices? Is it the highest paid employee? Is it the best trained employee?
What about the importance of the job of receptionist to our current patients? One of the major reasons current patients do not return to the practice is a bad experience with staff. Patients will often say, “I love the doctor, but the receptionist is not kind and welcoming.”
While we are having a paradigm shift about the job of receptionist, let’s drive it home by simply asking what is the real job of the receptionist? Gary Gerber, OD, calls this person the Director of First Impressions. We like to call this position the Patient Flow Facilitator. Call this position what it really accomplishes for the office.
Recognize that your receptionist is a key player in helping the people who call you on the phone or come through your door to recognize that they have come to the right place. A study was just completed in one of the practices we deal with that showed that the amount of money a patient spends in the optical is directly proportional to how they feel after they call the office to set up an appointment. Patients who completed the call with the impression that they were in the right place spent significantly more money in the optical than people who completed the call and felt they still had questions.
If we have given you new insights into this valuable position in the office, then start making changes today to maximize the training and, therefore, the value of the people who are your Patient Flow Facilitators.