Studies show that interpersonal communication is received just 10 percent through words and 30 percent tone of voice. The balance, a startling 60 percent, comes through body language. That means making a good first impression with a new or prospective patient is more critical than ever.
Those same studies have shown that within three to four minutes people will make snap judgments of others, and not always well-founded ones as we all know. So tone of voice and body language are joined here by our clothes, our personal hygiene, and our overall appearance to create that first impression.
It’s therefore incumbent to make your practice’s “image policy” clear: uniforms, hair, makeup, jewelry, shoes, visible tattoos or piercings. The particulars are of course up to you, but they need to be consistent with the type of culture you want to present and the kinds of patients you want to retain, it’s never bad to err on the conservative side.
That all-important body language meanwhile, starts with good eye contact and openness. Does your practice have tall, bunker-style desks in the reception area? They’re good for employee privacy but can be daunting to patients. Be sure your front-office crew stands up to greet arriving patients. Likewise, don’t be too casual with your interactions; even off-hand conversations about treatments should occur in a consult room, not the reception area or hallways.
Your front desk / receptionist will be the first team member all your patients interact with, and the person that will create the first impression. How they greet the patient is vital to making a great first impression. They should always greet the patients with a smile and acknowledgement when they walk in the door, and in a confident professional manner when speaking to patients or potential patients on the telephone.
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