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    Front office signals first impressions

    With autumn upon us, perhaps it’s time to “fall” into some good habits and brush up a bit on what is happening in your reception area. When is the last time you took a good look at what your waiting area is signaling to the outside world? It is, after all, the first physical impression of your clinic. Perhaps it is time to make some changes, or improve on some already excellent practices. Read on to hear how the experts weigh in on flare for the front desk.

    A valuable tip I gained from a practice management series was to see your clinic periodically through the five senses — sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. Try to look at your office space through new eyes, and critically identify any unwanted appearances, noises, clutter or odor. Is there furniture that appears tattered and needs refurbishing? Old marketing materials or dust on display cases? A squeaky fan or vent in the back office? Aroma of a microwave meal emanating from the staff room?

    If you don’t find yourself to be objective enough to find the cracks in your clinic’s glossy veneer, perform the task with a trusted “outsider” to the clinic or with your staff. For example, once a year I actually make this a part of our staff meeting — identifying needs for our handyman to address in our clinic while I am away at meetings.

    Eliminate clutter

    What physically makes for a good clinic entrance area? According to Catherine Maley, practice consultant and author of Your Aesthetic Practice, it is an open space with no clutter.

    “Less is more, visiting patients will be more comfortable with less chairs.” She also suggests readily accessible product displays with testers. Risa Goldman Luksa, founder and president of Goldman Marketing Group, recommends channeling beauty counters such as those at Nordstrom for retail displays.

    “This allows patients to touch, feel, and smell products as they shop,” Ms. Luksa says.

    Other quick changes for a pleasant reception area can be implemented even if you are not planning a space renovation. Remove clocks from the area, offer wireless Internet access, add live plants or flowers, or consider offering refreshments to patients. Remember that personal touches are everything in creating a great patient experience. Keep conversations private, and if possible, greet patients by name as they enter the premises. This is a simple but effective tool that is used frequently in the hotel and restaurant industry and easily translatable to a patient visit.

    NEXT: Is your reception area enhancing best practice offerings?

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