Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontists Bulletin Fall 2019 - 57

Practice Management Diary

position to be teaching people life lessons, so if they do not already have good
time management habits, we will not
likely train them or change them. Our
schedule is organized such that we can
accommodate a few unforeseen changes every day, and thus treating late
patients does not dramatically affect our
schedule or set us up for uncomfortable
interactions.

▫▫ Conversation: It should go without saying

that staff should avoid discussing their personal lives in front of patients, but surprisingly, I used to have to frequently remind my
staff to stop or delay their conversations until
they were alone. Instead of continuing the
battle, I eventually changed the rules. Now,
staff may chat among themselves, as long as
they are engaging their patients in the conversation. It turns out patients love talking about
weekend plans, favorite movies, and restaurants as much as my employees do. Getting
to know your patients is fun for you and helps
them feel at home.

▫▫ Service: We exist to be helpful. It's easy to be

annoyed at somebody trying to change their
coveted after-school afternoon appointments
on short notice, but people have lives outside of their orthodontic needs. If the stated
goal for all staff members is to be helpful, it
shifts the tone of the conversation to one of
deference instead of inconvenience, and helps
maintain happy relationships with patients.

Fall	2019	 	 PCSO	Bulletin	

This is especially relevant for front-desk staff
and anybody answering phones.

▫▫ Phrasing: Always stay positive, because

patients are listening. Hiccups happen: maybe
the computer decided to update itself at an
inopportune time, a clean hand piece will not
be out of the sterilizer for 10 minutes, or a
patient was supposed to be scheduled for a
long appointment but was only given 15 minutes. As a team, we can manage any problem
that arises, but staying positive and working
together ensures we maintain the comfort
and confidence of the patients around us.
On a busy day, if a patient has etchant on
their teeth and your lead assistant discovers
the side unit is out of water, they shouldn't
holler to every staff member in ear shot for
help, because all of the patients and families
in hearing range will not feel great about the
oversight. Learning grace and decorum takes
practice, but I ask my staff to see the office
from the patient's perspective. If they have a
comment to make that they would not enjoy
hearing at their own dentist's office, then they
should stop or rephrase.

Making patient satisfaction a priority is not a
new concept and has been touted by the most
recognizable luxury brands on the planet such
as Nordstrom, Ritz-Carlton, and Disney as a key
component of their success. But the rewards of
treating your patients well are not only financial;
happy patients and happy staff make for a happy
doctor.

57



Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontists Bulletin Fall 2019

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