Is your receptionist providing WOW or WOE?


A number of months ago I was dropping in to a number of dental practices to inform them of an upcoming JPPS Presentation. I found the contrasting receptions offered by the different locations interesting.

One particular experience stood out.

I was aware that the practice I was about to enter had been recently sold. The new owner had renovated the whole building. The external car park and garden were beautiful. I parked my car and walked in.

Wow. I was impressed!

Rustic floorboards with lush woollen rugs. Cafe-style tables and chairs with a vase of flowers on each. Large coffee station with full commercial coffee machine. I-Pad station with three mounted units along a bar table with stools. There were oils burning and soft spa-like music playing. The reception desk was in keeping, with its wooden detail and message display board mounted to the front, professing good wishes from the staff to their visitors.

It was obvious that someone had gone to a lot of trouble with the design and development of this waiting area. So many details had been introduced to make the experience a positive one. As a stranger walking in, I felt instantly welcome, a difficult thing for dental practices to achieve. This practice knew how to deliver ‘wow’!

I was the only one there, so I stood towards the reception desk in front of the two receptionists who were working on their computers. Neither was on the phone, so I hovered.


Seconds ticked by.


I looked around, a bit unsure now.


What a let-down. I was being ignored.

When reception is busy on calls and with patient payments, I never like to interrupt. I stand back so as not to imply pressure and happily wait my turn. But this is not what was happening.

After 10 seconds of silence, one of the receptionists looked up pleasantly and acknowledged me. But it was too late. My elevated feelings of happiness had dropped to disappointment. I had gone from ‘WOW’ to ‘WOE!’

Whoever designed that waiting area succeeded in the obvious intention to make me feel warm, welcome and calm. Unfortunately for the designer, the good impression started to crumble as the seconds ticked towards ten without my presence being acknowledged.

I left that practice with the conviction that while the physical appearance of your practice does play its role in your image, the experience your staff offer patients is more important. Great customer service will trump classy design every time.

Reception is important. It is wildly important. When choosing a receptionist, select the brightest and happiest. Select the one who loves helping people and truly cares about them. Choose the one who will welcome visitors to your practice, so that they feel a true ‘WOW’ experience!