To give you a sense of the style and content in our dental staff training levels, here are some samples from Secretary Level 1.
#20 – Understands and uses telephone professionally
General Thoughts on Phone Etiquette
Beginning and ending conversation: “Thank you for calling ______________ (practice name), _______________ (your first name) speaking. I can help you?” End with: “Thank you for calling.” This establishes rapport, friendliness, and avoids confusion since we have several secretaries. People will judge you on three characteristics: a) friendliness (smile!) b) your vocabulary c) your tone
1) Hold the mouthpiece approximately 3/4 to 1″ from your mouth. Resting the phone between your shoulder and chin is a sloppy habit to use while in the office.
2) Once you hear the caller’s name, Use it and use it often. Nothing makes a person feel better. Write the caller’s name down so you don’t forget it during your conversation. Make sure you pronounce and spell it correctly.
3) Try to visualize the person you are talking to; speak to them as if they were present in the same room with you. It is an interesting game to try to imagine what the other person looks like by the sound of their voice. We get fooled sometimes don’t we?
4) Please remember, new patients will pre judge you and your office by your telephone manners. First impressions are often lasting impressions. The client is answering important questions when s/he is talking to you: a) Are you as good and technically competent as they have heard? b) How far out of our way will we go to solve their needs? c) Do they feel comfortable and accepted? d) Are they going to like us? e) Do they trust us to provide their care?
5) Smile while you are on the phone. A pleasant, happy, smiling voice comes across just that way on the phone. To help you with this, make sure there is a mirror by each phone that you use. Paste a small sign on the bottom of the mirror that says smile!
6) You should hear and study your voice on a tape recorder. Good radio announcers we are not, but speaking in a monotone fashion and the use of slang expressions like “yeh”, “huh”, and “kid”, should be avoided. Clarity, diction, tempo are all important. You should be aware of your short comings and strive to improve. Try not to talk money over the telephone.
7) Pay careful attention to the number you are dialing or when using the push button phones. Try to minimize wrong numbers. Remember, the office phone is not to be used for personal calls unless it is for an emergency. Advise your friends and members of your family to avoid calling or visiting you during working hours. If they do, ask them to call your voice mail unless it’s an emergency. If you dial a wrong long distance number, be sure to call the operator to get credit for the call.
8) If you confirm the next day’s appointments try the following: “Good morning Mrs. Client, this is __________ (your first name) at _____________ (practice name) ; I am confirming your appointment for 2:30 tomorrow…Fine, we will look forward to seeing you at 2:30 tomorrow. Have a nice day. Good bye Mrs. Client.” Notice the word confirm was used, not remind. No one really enjoys being reminded. Try not to leave messages with other people, even family members for a client, unless the client is a child.
9) At the end of your conversation, good telephone manners dictate waiting until the other person hangs up. Always put your receiver down gently. Sometimes, you may find both parties waiting for the other to hang up.
10) Try to answer the phone on the second ring cheerfully. Notice I said cheerfully. Have you observed how congenial waitresses will set the mood for a dinner by being prompt and cheerful? If they are gloomy or sarcastic you may have the best food in town, but it doesn’t taste that way. On occasion, however, you may receive excellent service and still have poor food. That’s life! Convey this feeling we are friendly and knowledgeable; we are here to help; we care.
11) If you must interrupt the person with whom you are talking, offer them a choice – 1) call them back in 5 minutes or 2) place them on hold and estimate how long they will be on hold (be accurate – not “a few seconds”) Studies show the people who are placed on hold longer than 20 seconds believe you don’t care about them. If the hold extends for more than 20 seconds, cut back in and say: “Thank you for waiting, Mrs. Client. I did not anticipate it would take this long, would you like to continue holding or should I call you back? or “Mrs. Client, would you rather I return your call? I am busy at the desk and it may take (time) more minutes.”
The rest of this task is available in Secretary Level 1.
#25 – Checking Clients out after Treatment
Check Out Procedure
When a client has completed their appointment, they will be relieved, often numb, but almost always anxious to leave. Your objective is to help them finish whatever business is necessary pleasantly, efficiently, and with as little hassle as possible. Try to limit this check out procedure to five minutes. The client will be escorted by a staff member who will introduce the client to you. Look up and smile. Greet the person by name. Quickly scan the folder to make sure it’s accurately filled out. This is a very appropriate time to make some positive comment on the client’s treatment. This serves two purposes:
1. Shows you are interested in the client. 2. Shows you know what’s going on.
Comments about the client as a person help to improve your relationship with this particular client. The more the client likes you and appreciates our treatment, the more flexible they will be to you in making appointments and payments.
Take the folder and read the treatment accomplished on this date. The well filled out treatment sheet avoids mistakes. It has these advantages:
1. avoid verbal misinterpretations 2. increases efficiency 3. helps communications among staff 4. organizes diagnosis and treatment 5. provides information for financial arrangements 6. provides information for insurance processing 7. provides information for collection procedures 8. tracks client referrals 9. aids in appointment scheduling The assistant will tell you what was accomplished and say good bye to the client
If you are busy follow this procedure:
1. On phone – look up with good eye contract and a smile to the client. Say to the telephone caller “Excuse me for a moment.” Then say to the client “I’ll only be a minute with this phone call. “Would you like to have a seat in the reception room and I’ll come get you then?” Complete the phone call and then get up and go to the client in the reception room.
2. You are checking out a client and the phone rings – look up with a smile and good eye contact and a smile saying “Would you excuse me a moment while I answer the phone? “Then say to the caller “Hello This is Jill at HealthPark, I can help you. I’m currently with a client could I call you back in 5 minutes?” Write down the caller’s name and address in your telephone log. Complete checking out your client and return the telephone call.
The rest of this task is available in Secretary Level 1.