The office manager spotlight series shines a light on successful office managers who go above and beyond to tackle the daily challenges of their jobs.
For Jessi Kirley, every day is a new opportunity to improve her practice. For over 15 years, Jessi has been an office manager– and she's been at Modestow Family Dentistry in Florence, Massachusetts helming a team of 11 employees for over 2 years.
According to Jessi, her success comes down to two things: the happiness of her patients, and the happiness of her team. "My management style is a lot about balancing both the business aspect and the people aspect, and I pride myself on that," says Jessi. "It can be draining, because I care a lot about patient and staff experience."
Keeping Staff Happy
"The number one thing that I've found over my 15 years, is that whenever there's a big change or adjustment that affects the team, I do my best to communicate the change as openly and proactively as possible," she says. These changes can be anything from front desk software, new offered treatments, or even paperwork and workflows.
To ensure that her team is up to speed and running smoothly, Jessi schedules formal check-ins on a weekly or biweekly basis. "These can feel awkward or uncomfortable at first," she warns. However, until a solid rapport has been built over time, she suggests instituting this policy daily, as these quick meetings are hugely effective in ensuring that staff is informed and also has a place to voice their opinions or current challenges.
Jessi's favorite part about being an office manager are the moments when her team comes together to deliver a flawless experience for patients. "I really love having satisfied patients," she says. "It means the whole team did a good job. Not just one person did well – we all worked together."
Patients Make Perfect
To measure feedback and gauge just how satisfied patients feel after they leave, Jessi keeps a close eye on her online reviews. She often gets too many positive reviews to respond to: "It's a good problem to have!" laughs Jessi. However, when a negative review does arise, she has an action plan in place.
"We certainly don't get a lot – maybe one or two," she says. "But when they come in, Lighthouse sends us an email letting us know that the review is going to go live in 'x' amount of days, and offers a suggestion to respond." Responding to negative reviews has proved to be an effective marketing tactic for the practice. Recently, Jessi had a patient who was convinced to schedule another appointment after receiving Jessi's professional response to his negative review!
The Problem Solver
Jessi has a rare talent for identifying complex problems that others may have missed and dreaming up impactful solutions to resolve them. Recently, she noticed a rift between administrative and clinical functions that was impacting certain patient's experiences. So, on top of all her other daily duties, she created a new and unprecedented role to bridge this gap: a clinic and office coordinator. She then hired the perfect talent to fill this role, and handled all the training.
"One of the key responsibilities of this 'clinic and office coordinator' position is to be the primary person to handle check-outs," she says. "We now have a person primarily responsible for doing the check-outs when a patient is done, so that the patient gets scheduled properly. Even though we have templates in place, there are still idiosyncrasies about scheduling someone that can require a clinical knowledge."
On top of that, Jessi recently analyzed patient data and identified an opportunity for her practice to treat more children. She's begun architecting a full-scale marketing campaign and collaborating with a local bike club. "We're working out a sponsorship with a local cycling club and creating biking caps with our logos that they'll be giving away," she says. "We'll be having a 'kids day' event, and of course we'll be using email blasts and promoted Facebook posts."
In terms of patient communication software, Jessi has found the most success empowering her team with Lighthouse 360. "We're doing a deep dive [into Lighthouse] right now to maximize automation," she says. "We've recently discovered the two-way texting feature, and the front desk is finding that very helpful. Whenever there’s a scheduling issue or someone wants to come in sooner, they notice a very high response rate from two-way texting."
When asked if she had any important tips for other office managers, Jessi shares this insight: "Maintaining open communication is the biggest thing," said Jessi. "Developing trust and positive relationships is how you keep people happy and motivated. After all, you need people to be on board when you ask them to do new things. And remember – good ideas coming through both ways! "