Putting Your Best Foot Forward with Front Desk Training
If you are guilty of focusing your training efforts on everyone in the office except your front desk staff, you are not alone. We talked with Amy Demas, owner of Communicate Excellence, about the importance of training, communication, personality, and accountability for these staff members.
Meet Amy Demas
Amy Demas (right) entered the realm of orthodontic consulting and training in a roundabout way that makes her uniquely qualified. She was one of the first 1000 women to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, and received her BS from Missouri University of Science and Technology in Mechanical Engineering before earning her MBA. Her career has taken her from developing a pipe stress analysis handbook for petrochemical systems to operations management for an online university and a bank.
Her interest in orthodontics was piqued when she met an orthodontist. After they got married, she managed his practice, Demas Orthodontics, for four years, learning the ins and outs of the field. A bout with cancer made her rethink her priorities, and she decided she wanted to get back to doing what she loved most—enlightening others.
Demas says, “My personal mission statement is, ‘To uncover truth and make it known, for the empowerment of others.’ It shows up in whatever I do.”
She founded Communicate Excellence to combine her training talents, business knowledge, and appreciation for what it takes to run a successful orthodontic practice. Demas explains:
“It wasn’t that long ago I was the mom on the other side of the desk with no orthodontic knowledge. But then I married an orthodontist and worked every administrative role in the office, so I know what it is really like. Couple that with my business-world experience and you have wisdom to share with others.
When I teach, I ask my trainees if they remember how easy it was to look at the mom at the grocery store with their child pitching a fit and come up with advice about how she could handle it better. Then I have them picture this same scenario after having kids of their own. Theory only takes you so far—experience provides wisdom and insight. My business experience is different than what almost every other consultant has. Many have only lived in the orthodontic world, while others only have business acumen. I have done both, and share this balanced insight with my clients.”
Why Front Desk Training Is So Important
According to Demas, your front office team is comprised of the members shaping the impression of decision-makers every time they answer the phone or greet someone at the office. Unlike the other staff members who have intermittent interaction with leads and patients, those at the front desk are seen and heard on every call or office visit, which is why training is so critical.
Unfortunately, people who work the front desk are often only given instructions on how to turn the phones on and off, some scripts to follow, and occasional feedback based on a random phone call review. Otherwise, they are left to fend for themselves while the practice focuses on clinical training for the clinical team and sales training for the treatment coordinator.
To truly service patients to the best of your ability, your practice needs a unified approach that maintains the individual personalities of each staff member. Because an orthodontic patient’s life span is limited—they most likely won’t be coming to see you for decades like a dentist or general physician—you have a very short period of time to make them a patient who will come for treatment and continue to refer new business to your practice.
Holding oneself accountable can be challenging, especially when we may not even be conscious of the mistakes we’re making. When Demas teaches phone and front desk skills, most people know what they should or shouldn’t be doing, and they report they always do what they should and never so what they shouldn’t. However, when recorded calls are reviewed, they discover the opposite to be true on many occasions. For training to be successful, the staff must be taught how to become conscious of their actual actions, not just taught the right and wrong way to interact with patients and prospects.
Even the most state-of-the-art practice with experienced, talented clinical assistants and a highly educated orthodontist can falter if prospects are not effectively encouraged to become and remain patients by a well-trained front desk staff. Be sure to invest in your entire team, and your practice will flourish.
For more information about how your practice can benefit from the services provided by Amy Demas, visit: www.communicate-excellence.com.