Tips for a no-wait waiting room

Tips for a no-wait waiting room

The fact is no one likes to wait when you go to a restaurant. 

You don’t want to wait to be seated at a table, even if you don’t have a reservation. 

And when you do have a reservation at the restaurant and you have to wait, that can be even more frustrating. You may feel like, what’s the point of even having a reservation at the restaurant if they don’t save you a table? 

However, when you are seated right away to your table, it’s a much better experience than waiting at the front door. Even if there’s some delays getting the food, it’s much better to be able get to your booth and start to settle into your seat.

You feel like you’re moving forward.

The problem with wait times

The longer patients at the dental office wait in the waiting room, the more unhappy they
become and the less likely they are to refer their friends and family..

They even may start thinking about going somewhere else, if possible, to get their dental

How much better would it be if the front desk could seat the patient with zero wait time? 

That would be ideal if the front desk person could check you in and take you straight back to the operatory.

 When have you ever experienced customer service like that? And if that’s not possible, how great would it be if the patient could be seated in less than 60 seconds? 

This requires the front desk to let the assistant know right away that the patient is waiting.

How you can decrease patient wait time in the waiting room

It starts with good coordination between the front desk and the assistant about the patient arrival times. And if the assistant is not ready, then the front desk should find out an explanation to communicate with the patient very quickly. 

For example, if the front desk creates a routing slip and when checking in the patient that they fill out when the patient arrives, why leave it sitting at the front desk?

Why not take the routing slip straight to the assistant, then that’s going to help speed along the process to bring the patient back. The assistant will immediately know the patient is here.

To have a better patient experience, we need to be faster. 

When patients wait, they don’t think: wow, this doctor must be great. This office is great. 

They’re so busy, they must be really good.

More than likely they think this doctor and this office are so disorganized. 

The patient may think, Probably the doctor thinks that the other patients are more important than me.

We just have to realize the world is getting faster.

Groceries are delivered to our house, so we don’t even have to wait in the grocery store. And, we can schedule appointments by text message.

We don’t even have to make a phone call.

Be more responsive

Being faster and more responsive will set dental offices apart from the others.

We need to look for ways to speed things up.

And anything that makes patients wait longer is going to harm the practice. Anything that’s unnecessary on the phone conversations, anything that makes poor scheduling, or inefficient routines and so on.

We need to make a list of all the instances in which patients have to wait. And we must ask the staff for other instances that pop up. So that we can start to increase the speed for each of these items, and we keep persisting until the service is as close to instant as possible.

Because when you’re late, it may take a gift card, like a Starbucks gift card or a Target gift card that could change an irritated patient into a calm patient. But it is better to not have that issue in the first place.

Fast service is going to require teamwork between the doctors and the staff. 

There’ll need to be systems that can solve all the delays that come up.

So it’s important that the staff and the doctors talk and work out a system for keeping things efficient and keeping the flow.

And then use your practice management software to measure your patient wait times.

Many softwares record when the patient is checked in and when the patient is seated.

What to do when the dentist is behind schedule?

Can we seat the patient in a separate room?

What can we do to help in that scenario? What do we do when the hygiene schedule is behind?

Can another assistant take the X-rays and start the prophy for the patient until the hygienist can do the scaling?

If things are running behind, can the front desk staff member get updates from the assistant and doctor and share those updates with the patient if the delays are greater than expected.

This way the patient is informed about what’s going on and kept in the loop.

Having a no-wait waiting room

Effort that we invest to improve our speed of service can pay off in the form of happy patients, more patient referrals, and less stress for everyone. Patients and staff included.

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