In an ideal world every patient would go right from checking in at the front desk to walking back to their exam room. Your reception area would stand deserted—almost unnecessary due to your practice’s exceptional timeliness and efficiency.
But we live in the real world, so despite the best of intentions it’s inevitable that some patients have to wait before their appointments. After all, you can’t always predict how an appointment will go—people and their oral health are unpredictable after all! So what can you do to ensure that a patient who has to wait doesn’t become a patient who looks elsewhere for their dental care? You can make your reception area experience pleasant and inviting.
These simple tips for improving your reception area will help keep patients happy with their time in your office—even if part of it is spent waiting.
- Offer light and healthy refreshments
Having bottles of water and other teeth-friendly drinks (such as unsweetened tea) can be a welcome gesture to patients in your reception area. And snacks, such as nuts, are both satisfying and good for patients’ oral health. No one likes to wait for things, but complimentary food and drink can often help make people more forgiving.
- Offer a range of reading materials
While it’s true most people have smart phones to catch up on news and other information, it’s still a good idea to have a variety of magazines as well as local and national newspapers for people to read while they wait. You never know what will catch people’s interest and distract them from waiting—getting lost in an article can make the wait time seem to fly by.
- Offer free Wi-Fi
Most people don’t have unlimited data to use on their phones and appreciate being able to use Wi-Fi whenever they can. Let people check email, peruse social media, or play games guilt free by using your Wi-Fi—it’ll help them pass the time and let them know you understand waiting is an inconvenience and that you want to make it as enjoyable as possible.
- Have attractive décor and comfortable seating
It might be easy to settle for good enough when it comes to your reception area, but don’t underestimate how a comfortable place to sit and cheerful décor can turn a boring and irksome waiting experience into a relaxed and happy one. People’s moods are affected by the environment they’re in, so drab design and cheap seating isn’t going to do you any favors with patients.
- Make sure children are entertained
Don’t forget your youngest patients when designing your reception area. Keep a variety of activities on hand for them– children’s books, board and card games, and coloring books are all excellent options to make sure they can have fun while they wait. This is especially important for young patients with dental anxiety; keeping their mind off their appointment with fun and games helps minimize their anxiety and reinforces a positive association with your practice.
In our fast paced world waiting on something like a dental appointment will most likely never top someone’s list of favorite ways to pass the time. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make their wait as pleasant as possible. By using these five simple tips to improve your reception area you’ll know you’re doing all you can to give your patients the best experience possible in your practice.