The Front Desk …. Friend or Foe?
Updated: Oct 30
When Drs. Aaron & Abbi first hired me to work at their clinic, they eagerly made one thing very clear: as staff, as we interact with our patients, we will work to be kind and helpful. Why? Because our patients are people, and people matter. This expectation of our staff is across the board, from the employees at the front desk to the doctors in their exam rooms. Because a patient’s first interaction with a clinic is typically with someone at the front desk, this job of friendliness falls especially up here, at the front. And that’s where I get to work.
When you call in, we want to warmly greet you. When you need to reschedule, we want to help you. When you can’t remember the time of your appointment, we’d love to double-check that. Do you need an itemized receipt? We can e-mail that right over. Are you a new patient with lots of questions? We’d love to give you some answers. Is your insurance confusing? We can help you understand it. All with smiles! Because let’s face it, if you’re coming in here, you may already have a pain in the neck … so there’s no need for us to add to it! We commit to be both kind and helpful. It’s who we are.
I recently had the challenge of helping my daughter set up medical care in another state. She is a college student in Colorado, so we were calling around to different clinics in the Denver area. The first clinic we called was atrocious: they treated us like a burden, they gave us very little information, they knew very few answers to our questions, and they got annoyed when we asked more. But they did have an opening and out of desperation, she took it. A few days later we found a different clinic and the woman who answered our phone call spent 20 minutes with us: she answered our questions, she put us on hold to find the answers she didn’t know, she covered every single step of becoming a new patient, and through all of it she was as “Iowa nice” as she could be (we later found out she WAS from Iowa). My daughter immediately booked with this second clinic and canceled her appointment at the first one. Kindness matters.
A few weeks later that same daughter, a college runner, had an injury. She requested an appointment online at a podiatry clinic. A day later, she called them and left a voicemail. When she reached out a third time, they answered but told her to call back later. In the end, it took them 3 days to contact her. They tried scheduling her a week and a half out instead of offering her their first available appointment. After my daughter again explained her level of pain and after she offered to see any of their doctors in any of their area clinics, the receptionist finally moved her to a sooner date. But that role — of teasing out the need and working to find a solution — should fall on the clinic, not the patient. Helpfulness matters.
My interaction with these other clinics was good medicine — it only affirmed in me the value of being friendly as I work for this clinic. At D2M, we’re striving to be both kind and helpful. Every one of us. Everyday. Especially at the front desk. Our patients truly do matter to us, and we hope you notice!
Serving you the patient,
Designed 2 Move Patient Experience Coordinator