Your dental practice needs to run like a well-oiled machine. That means not only your hygienists and dentists, but your front desk staff, need to be efficient and productive. Does your front desk staff go back and forth between "frantically busy" and "nothing to do"? Since the front desk job is unpredictable — after all, you never know when the phone will ring or an insurance company will put you on hold — it can be hard to get things done. Here are six ways to make your front desk more productive.
- Get organized. Starting the day off efficiently is key to maximizing your front desk’s productivity. Lighthouse 360 uses smart recommendations to create a front desk task list for each day. The lists are emailed to you each morning so you can review them, send them to your front desk staff and feel confident they’re prepared to tackle that day's most important tasks.
- Design your front desk layout for maximum efficiency. Poor organization can slow your staff down significantly. Are files, forms and office supplies readily accessible to each member of your front desk staff, or do they have to walk across the room or reach over each other to get what they need? Ergonomic chairs and computer setups, as well as good lighting, are also vital to keeping your employees energized. Invest in the tools your team needs to be productive.
- Aim for a steady cadence of patient appointments. Train your front desk staff to book appointments evenly throughout the day. Avoiding "patient pileups"—those days where your office is packed with patients who have back-to-back appointments—and days when the schedule is empty will ease stress for your front desk staff. (It will also make patients happier.) Lighthouse 360 can help by automatically reminding patients when they're due for a cleaning or exam—no more last-minute appointment scheduling. Lighthouse 360 also helps eliminate open appointment slots from last-minute cancellations. Its Fill-In feature automatically detects last-minute cancellations and then sends messages to a targeted list of patients who've expressed interest in getting seen ASAP.
- Streamline communications. Are you still using phone calls to communicate with all of your patients? While some patients may prefer this, your front desk staff can save a lot of time using text or email with others. Lighthouse 360 lets your front desk staff exchange two-way texts with patients right from the portal. It also alerts you when a patient doesn't receive a message, and keeps track of patients who haven't confirmed their appointments so your employees can quickly text or call them to follow up. It even lets you send a single confirmation message to families that are bringing multiple patients to appointments.
- Schedule staff appropriately. Ever had one of those days when half your front desk staff was out sick, taking a personal day or on vacation? Scheduling your staff's time carefully can help prevent these problems. Create a policy that only one person can take a day off at the same time, for example. Put one employee in charge of approving and scheduling time off. Using a cloud-based calendaring tool for the office makes it easy for everyone to see who's working when. Unless your office is closed at lunchtime, you should also stagger front desk employees' lunch breaks so there's always someone to handle the phones and greet patients.
- Simplify website and social media management. Updating and maintaining your practice’s website and social media presence probably falls to your front desk team. But if it takes too much time, these important tasks can end up on the back burner. Look for tools like Lighthouse 360 that save your staff time. For example, with the easy-to-use Lighthouse 360 widget, your employees can quickly upload photos to your website and create attractive photo galleries. Lighthouse 360 also integrates with Facebook, so you can add posts, photos and even patient reviews to Facebook directly from the Lighthouse 360 portal.