Building the first impressions: the importance of your receptionists’ role

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What is the first thing that crosses your mind when you think of a receptionist role? If you answered “taking phone calls”, we’re sorry to say, but you are far from the reality! When not on the phone, front desk staff are greeting and screening patients, managing diaries, logging lab work, taking payments, filling insurance forms, dispensing medication, scanning, organising the post, ordering sundries, making courtesy calls, completing reports about KPI’s, outstanding balances, membership joiners and leavers, and sometimes managing social media channels! Phew!

Jodie Mycroft, receptionist at Shine Dental Care

We celebrated Receptionists Day on 12th May, and we would like to praise our professionals for all their hard work and dedication. We invited three receptionists, Louise Keenan from Bourne End Dental, and Teresa Carlin and Jodie Mycroft from Shine Dental Care, to share their experiences, thoughts, and insights about this important job. “When people ask what my role is and I answer ‘I am a receptionist’, some of them assume we just sit at a desk and answer the phone, but we are often juggling ten balls at once while keeping a smile on our faces”, said Louise. If you’re a receptionist, we hope this inspires you and makes you feel proud of your key role. Happy Receptionists Day!   

How the role has evolved over the years

Reception work has massively evolved over the years in different aspects. According to Teresa, everything is a lot more computerised and fast-paced compared to when she was a doctor’s receptionist 16 years ago.

Louise feels the same. Practices have become much busier with more surgeries running and lots of external referrals. The teams are always welcoming new specialists and adapting to new equipment, as technology is always bringing up new tools and offering improvements to dentistry practice. 

When it comes to patient care, Jodie shares her view: “receptionist duties over the years have evolved in such a way that customer service is just as important as the dentist’s role within the practice. We are the primary contact with the patient, making the first impressions either in person or over the phone. We build up relationships with our patients as well as the dentists and nurses.” The customer service provided by receptionists has a great impact on the practice’s reputation and the patient’s journey. At the end of the day, the front desk team plays an important role in the quality of the service provided.

Louise Keenan, receptionist at Bourne End Dental
Challenges with COVID

COVID-19 has impacted the front desk role just like every other across the dental community. Receptionists lost one of the things they love most: the time dedicated to interacting face-to-face with each patient. Also, they have many more tasks to carry out now, such as cleaning after patients, taking patients’ temperatures, and asking screening questions. Jodie shares: “Unfortunately, we have less time for creating relationships with patients at the moment, but that’s for everyone’s safety. It is something that I am looking forward to doing again when patients are allowed to sit back in the waiting room and have a chat with us”.

Being the person to welcome patients, receptionists have a great responsibility to help cope with COVID. Every day, they run tasks to keep the workplace a safe place for everyone, but they also dedicate time and effort to creating an empathetic environment, making patients feel safe and as relaxed as possible for their appointments. “Although we are now used to a working environment full of protocols, PPEs, and paperwork, patients are probably not,” explains Louise. “This could be their first visit out since shielding, they could be excited but also anxious or nervous and we have to look after them.”

Teresa Carlin, receptionist at Shine Dental Care
Dentex’s benefits

Teresa was already a receptionist at Shine Dental Care when the practice joined Dentex and Jodie was on maternity leave. Louise joined Bourne End after the practice joined the group. The three front desk professionals were in different stages of their lives and careers, but they all shared the same apprehension of joining a dental group and adjusting to new work environments.

However, Dentex proved to be different. When asked what describes Dentex, Teresa was straight in her answer: “Dentex means support and compassion, how all staff are made to feel valued, and how access to training is always available.” Jodie shares a great memory when it comes to Dentex: “I carried out my first Teams meeting to some of the Practice Managers within Dentex about marketing. After that, the Business Development Manager got me some flowers to say thank you and praised my efforts.”

Dentex is here to make their lives a lot easier. “I’m very much a people person,” adds Louise. “This role is perfect for me and I very much enjoy the team. All members of Dentex have always been very helpful and supportive. I have made some great friendships with staff members and built a good rapport with many of our patients. Although conversations are always kept professional, some have become like friends. I look forward to the future working alongside each other.”