While most dentists take great care when hiring associates or dental hygienists, many don’t put as much consideration into hiring for their front desk team. They may not be revenue powerhouses like yourself or highly skilled team members, but they do merit the same consideration.
They are the face of your brand. I cannot tell you the number of practices I’ve seen that struggled with a poor online reputation due to poor customer service or unfriendliness up front. How the folks up front answer the phones and interact with your patients will make you or break you.
Even great dentists who are liked by their patients won’t survive if the team provides poor customer service.
Tips for Hiring at the Front Desk
Think about it—the person working the front desk will often be the deciding factor for new patients, referrals, and retention. Their demeanor on the phone and their ability to charm patients can make the difference in thousands or tens of thousands of dollars of revenue per month.
We’ve been helping dental practices succeed for a long time, and after working with thousands of practices, I can tell you that the biggest pain point is often hiring. How do you find the right people, and how can you tell up front that they are a good fit?
There are no guarantees, but if you start with the tips below, your chances of success will go up.
Hire based on personal qualities, not just experience.
The less specialized the role, the more this holds true. Professional athletes, brain surgeons, and musicians really only need to be (very) good at one thing. But more “open” roles like administration, customer service, and management need a person with all-around good qualities rather than someone who excels at one specific responsibility.
You’re looking for people with exceptional interpersonal skills and charisma. these skills are up to snuff, you can take any talented person and teach them a new role. Remember, they are the face of your brand!
Conduct phone interviews.
It might seem obvious, but I see many practices that fail to use phone interviews when filling a front desk position. This is a good chance to see how candidates conduct themselves in a high-stress situation on the phone. If they can to charm you, they’ll probably be able to do the same with your patients.
Throw them a curveball.
To get the most from interviews, recall what traits you are looking for. You need a resourceful team member who is likeable. We’ve seen many styles of interview designed to uncover these traits, such as group interviews, personality tests, and brain teasers.
Choose interview questions carefully.
If you’re going to ask a question, know what you’re looking for in the answer. Good questions are situational and open-ended, rather than being predictable with an obviously right or wrong answer.
Bad Question: “What training have you had that’s relevant to this position?”
Listening to the candidate recite information you’ve already seen in their resume or cover letter doesn’t give you a good idea of their personality or people skills.
Bad Question: “What is your biggest weakness?”
While self-awareness is great and understanding weaknesses is vital for improvement, in this context, the question will almost certainly elicit a lie. Why would anyone tell you their worst flaw at a job interview?
Better Question: “Could you tell me about a time you lacked the skills or knowledge to complete a task?”
It’s a better question because it is open-ended, and the answer will give you an idea of how the candidate will likely behave when they encounter the same situation working for you.
It’s All About the Patient Experience
I’ve seen many practices that have been very successful even if the dentist isn’t much of a “people person.” As long as the rest of the team compensates and the dentist does their best, the practice may still do well.
However, a practice rarely survives for long if it doesn’t have a friendly, polite front-end team providing great service.
-Sunrise Dental Solutions