You Only Get One Chance to Make a Good First Impression

The first impressions we make are often the most lasting, and most important, impressions. This also applies to your practice, as the impressions new patients make of you will be if they decide to continue business with you.

Your patient's first impression of you and your practice will often be irreversible, make sure you're putting your best foot forward before they even step in the office.

When your new dental patient arrives, it will take about three seconds for them to make a snap judgement about you, your dental office, and the level of care you provide. Be prepared. You want that first impression to be memorable.

Think of your reception as your customer service emergency room. Your front desk concierge, the person seated closest to the door, will be your first responder. This “customer service EMT” will be gathering data to determine how much attention and customer care your new patient needs.

The most important aspect of this first interaction is that the patient is welcomed and does not have to wait to be seen. The new patient and their family are the most important people in your dental universe. Don' keep them waiting.

You may also want to consider a personalized welcome sign for your new patient. Have you ever seen a limousine driver at the airport with a sign? This sign means "I'm here for you." You may want to have a written welcome with your new patient's name placed in the exam room. This will also aid the doctor in remembering the new patient's name.

Your goal is to have your new patient and their family feel special throughout the entire new patient process. This experience starts with expressed sentiments of "Welcome” and "Good to see you." It continues to "How are you doing?" and "What can I do for you today?" during the exam. It then ends with "Great meeting you today," and "Thanks for coming in.".

All that you do and say shows how much you care. Your goodbye will be the last memory of your dental office in the heart and mind of your new patient until the next time they visit. Take time to give a fond farewell. Tell your patient "It was wonderful to meet you" and “We're looking forward to seeing again next time.".

Give your new patient as much attention as possible. There is no unimportant employee, conversation, action, or task when it comes to customer service and the new patient experience. Don't leave it to chance. You will only get one chance to make a good first impression.

Dr. Ann Marie Gorczyca is author of the book "At Your Service: 5-Star Customer Care for a Successful Dental Practice." She is an orthodontist in private practice in Antioch, California.

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