Everything counts!

Dec. 1, 2004
Five-star service is the goal for patient attraction, comfort, and retention. Some practices have a spa atmosphere with sophisticated elegance.

Five-star service is the goal for patient attraction, comfort, and retention. Some practices have a spa atmosphere with sophisticated elegance. Some offices have more of a down-home experience with drinks and food treats. Your service upgrade must permeate every layer of your practice and it should be demonstrated consistently in order to be credible. Do the manners, protocol, and sophistication of the staff and doctor reflect the delivery of your five star service? Are you walking your talk?

The language of five-star service is incomplete sentences with correct grammar. A dental receptionist should be able to multi-task and develop the skills to speak well with all levels of sophistication and education. Speaking in comprehensive sentences is a learned skill. Avoid words like "get," "hey," "you guys," "gunna," "get 'cha," "cool," "yeah," and so many others. Avoid ending sentences in a preposition. Thinking before you speak will help you avoid "uhh" while you are thinking about what to say next.

Raising the bar to include polished conversations can be learned by enrolling you and your staff in your local Toastmasters Club for a year. Practice games to improve your conversational skills in staff meetings. Videotape or audiotape your conversations so you can evaluate your gestures, body language, and grammar. How effective are you in listening and understanding?

Providing five-star service also includes hand-written notes and correspondence with guests. You may provide the best hand massage in three counties, but if you misspell a word in your handwritten note, the score is zero. Have a dictionary at hand, take a Sylvan Learning writing course, and read more books. Reading exposes you to the expression of words, as well as correct spelling.

Learn the protocol for introductions. Your client is your highest priority and an honored guest. State your guest's name first and introduce him or her to the hygienist or doctor. A one-way introduction is fine. For example, "Mrs. Berry, I would like you to meet Janice Higgins, our hygienist. Mrs. Berry is a Web site designer and new to Benton."

Introduce your guest immediately as the first element in a conversation because it is the right thing to do. Since you know your team members well, find a topic of conversation which will connect your guest with them. If food is offered at your five-star service office, etiquette steps in. Offer a napkin, plate, and fork when appropriate. Use porcelain cups, saucers, real lemons, and sugar. Make it part of the experience. When you are dining as a dental team in a restaurant, manners count. Leave your cell phone at the office, sit up straight, elbows off the table, napkin in your lap. Wait for the host to begin eating; then, you can begin. Food is passed clockwise. Be sure to say "please" and "thank you." Never talk with food in your mouth and never use your utensil as a gesturing accessory, especially when the fork has food on it. Everyone should leave together. If your staff members are valuable, but their manners could be improved, find an etiquette coach to spend time at your monthly skills-building workshops. Poor manners pour water on five-star service.

Americans eat out two of three meals a day. Sit-down manners are glaringly absent. You will be noticed for your excellent manners. Yet, fast food is also a part of our culture. Never drink or eat while walking down the street or returning to your office.

Living your life with a state of grace will help you avoid common rudeness. You set the tone for polite expression with "please," "thank you," and "excuse me." You are host to a most important guest. Do not interrupt and assume you know the answer or have the correct information. Do not brag or talk about yourself. Do not talk about others. Avoid "in jokes" when others are not included. Speak softly and people will listen. Do not talk about body functions. Don't chew gum or eat at your desk.

First impressions are based on your appearance. Upgrade your uniforms to black slacks, colored shirts, and white lab coats. Scrubs are pass

Five-star service is much more than hot towels and being on time. Upgrade your language, manners, and attitude. Remember, at this level of service, everything counts!

Dr. Bill Blatchford's Custom Coaching Program is now available anytime, anywhere. Utilizing 18 years of practice-management experience with over 1,100 offices, Dr. Blatchford's custom program involves minimal travel and maximum personal time with the coach, interaction with other doctors, and tons of support. Leadership, systems, case presentation skills, communication, and profitability are emphasized. He can be reached at (800) 578-9155 or visit his Web site at www.blatchford.com.

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