What does your receptionist say about YOU?

I was onsite with a client a couple of days ago. The receptionist was asked by the dentist to call a patient’s medical GP for information. The GP’s receptionist was dismissive, rude and refused to provide the information requested.

This reminded me of a particular practice whom my practice often referred patients. The specialist themself was a great clinician. Professional, friendly and patients enjoyed seeing them.

However, the specialist’s receptionist was a problem. I was often in communication with her and was consistently surprised at how rude she could be. She was curt, unhelpful and always seemed exasperated at having to deal with people.

We are often reminded of the key role receptionists play in the management of patients. However, there is another key element to their role.

Your receptionist is the representative for your practice.

Receptionists communicate with specialists, GP’s, temp agencies, dental reps and product detailers. If your practice has a ‘bad receptionist’ on deck, your good name is being damaged.

Leaving an obviously bad employee in any position in your practice reflects bad management and leadership. To others, it indicates that either:

  1. Management knows it is a problem, but are afraid to speak to the employee
  2. Management is unaware of what is happening in key areas of their business
  3. There is insufficient employee management and training

The bad receptionist of the specialist my practice referred patients to was still there after I sold my practice…ten years later! I do not know what the unique dynamics within that practice were, however, it does leave me wondering what possible reason could have been good enough to keep an individual with such a bad attitude in the most public position of the practice.

On the flip side, a great receptionist can have people commenting on how fortunate you are. Having someone whose characteristics are matched with the requirements of a receptionist role – bright, cheerful, helpful, flexible – ensure any ‘visitors’ to your practice are impressed by your ability to put together a great team and foster their wonderful qualities.