Episode 45: Key Skills Your Front Office Staff Must Have

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September 28, 2021

 

You need to hire someone for your front desk. But before you sit down to write the ad for that position you first need to understand what it is that you want that front office person to do.

The first impression that people have of you is their experience when they walk in your front door. The person at the front desk is the first person from your office that someone is going to meet.

You want to hire looking through the prism of who you and your practice are and the demographics of your patient population.

By far, the MOST important skill set is communication. Aside from the fact that great communication skills are the backbone to professionalism and excellent customer service, it’s probably the hardest one to actually teach. Regardless of the exhaustive list of tasks and responsibilities that you want to assign to your front office staff, absolutely none of their skills is going to be more important than their ability to communicate.

Patients, just like any other customer, do not want to feel like they are a transaction. When you are interviewing potential staff—especially for your front desk, I want you to think about whether they are easy to connect with.

Connection is all about communication. But communication is so much more than simply what comes out of someone’s mouth. What’s more important than words? Body language and tone.

Whether your patients trust you, the physician, starts with your (front desk) staff. Every message has to have both content and feeling.

Patient satisfaction and retention is directly related to their interaction with your staff. Patient trust stems from confidence in your staff’s competence and communication skills.

What are key components needed for great communication? Active listening, empathy, confidence, friendliness, respect, responsiveness, and ability to adapt communication style to the audience.

Let’s dissect this into things you can do to train people and skills they inherently need to have. You can empower your staff and give them confidence by developing processes.

But friendliness, empathy and respect are not qualities that you can easily teach.

I know that when you need to hire an employee, you’re preoccupied with what should the job description include. And, of course, you’ll need that list of responsibilities to write the job description and the ad.

But it’s really the intangible qualities that you are going to want to evaluate when you are interviewing potential front desk candidates.

Just remember, this person is going to be the face of your practice. If you were the patient would you feel that this person is friendly, empathetic and respectful? Would you feel that they are genuine and genuinely interested? You want the answer to be a resounding yes!

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