The Gatekeeper: Is Your Receptionist Scaring Away Something Great?

We all know that one of the many duties of a receptionist or executive assistant is to keep a decision maker from being bothered by irrelevant callers.  But what happens when the gatekeeper prevents the decision maker from discovering something important and relevant to his or her business?  This caller could be offering something that could truly change the fabric of success for not just the dentist, but for the entire team.  This is the point in which the gatekeeper is given a great opportunity to be the hero or simply be the zero.

Time and time again, I hear dental receptionists answer the phone only to spew out a curt, “we are not interested” or “doctor is with a patient” and abruptly hang up the phone.  This leaves me wondering three things:  what was it in which the doctor would not be interested, is it not part of her responsibility to offer the information to the doctor for further review, and is she acting from a place of control or what is best for the practice?  Now before you go on with the “we get so many calls every day that we simply don’t have time for them” excuse, why not ask these questions instead:

1)    Would I like to be spoken to this way if I were on the other end of the line?

Common telephone courtesy dictates we ought to engage the person on the other end of the line with courtesy and respect. You never know…they could be our next new patient!

2)    How do I know if I am missing something spectacular?

“Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.” …Howard Aiken

This is a perfect example of why so many great ideas go unnoticed.  Take a moment to listen.  You can always arrange an appointment to hear more.

3)    Wouldn’t it be great to be the one responsible for bringing something valuable to the office?

Imagine being the one who brought an idea to the business that had a dramatic positive effect.  The one handling the phones has an opportunity to be the real hero for the practice when this occurs.

4)    In this rapidly changing profession should I not be open to considering ways that could bring about valuable change to my place of employment?

It should be brought to the attention of the decision maker when a product, service or idea is fresh with potential.

5)    Really…how many of these calls do you find yourself fielding each day and does offering a friendly exchange detract from what it is you do for the practice?

The front office manager often has his or her finger on the pulse of the practice and should consider it a responsibility to engage in possible improvements to the business.  Perhaps it’s an opportunity to learn about a new product or process.  How could it benefit the business?   Who is in charge of the marketing plan and budget and does the call need to be forwarded to the appropriate person? Is it a new clinical product or idea that the hygiene team may want to investigate?  Would you like to improve your web presence?  Would you like to raise your profits this year?  Whatever the question may be, by asking one self the above questions it just may bring about a change you never knew could be so valuable!

And one more thing…these folks are simply doing their job and trying to support their families. Treating them politely is just the right thing to do.

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