Dental surgeries often come across as intensely sterile places, which may convey a clean and hygienic practice, but can also appear impersonal and intimidating. Make an effort to keep your surroundings appealing by injecting a more friendly and familiar feel into the environment. Your waiting area can be filled with homely touches, such as comfortable seating and cushions, soft carpets, low lights, indoor plants, water features and art on the walls. Make children feel welcome and alleviate boredom by offering a play area filled with toys and books. In the treatment room, choose wall art and colour schemes to add a human touch. These easy dental office tweaks may be all you need for an instant improvement.
The atmosphere in a building is created by the people within it. So, your staff are key. Choose employees with great people skills and train them to offer first class customer service with a smile, treating nervous patients with special care and understanding. However pleasantly you fit out your surgery, the physical surroundings won’t feel welcoming if staff are rude or dismissive. The patient experience extends from their first encounter at the reception desk, all the way through to their interactions with the dentist and dental nurse – so good dentist customer service is essential for all staff throughout the practice.
If you’ve been running a dental practice for a few years, you may have stopped ‘seeing’ it through the eyes of a client. That creaky door or leaking tap can easily become ‘part of the furniture’ – so prioritise odd jobs that may not be essential to the running of the practice, but that can build up an overall image of good upkeep. Signage is another small detail that can make a big difference; you come here every day so you know how to find the reception desk from the street without thinking twice, but don’t take it for granted that a new visitor will find it easily without being pointed in the right direction.
One reason why so many people feel anxious about visiting the dentist is the feeling of not being in control. It’s such a simple thing, but it’s easy to make their visit a much more positive and empowering experience, simply by handing back control wherever you can. Dentists should take the time to arm patients with all the information they need, give plenty of opportunity to ask questions, and ask them about their preferences when in the chair. Whether that’s choosing some music to listen to, or taking breaks during treatment whenever they give a pre-agreed signal, most patients feel much more positive about going to the dentist when they can have a say in what happens and when.