As a practice owner or manager, you know what goals and expectations you have for your veterinary receptionist. But do you really know what goes into accomplishing all of those things? Successful front desk management is about much more than just answering the phone and greeting clients. It’s about incredible organization, unwavering positivity and impeccable service. To gain a better perspective of what your receptionist actually does all day, here’s a little view from the other side of the desk.
Starting the day
At the beginning of the day, often before many of the other staff members have even arrived, the receptionist will get settled in and start checking voicemail messages. This is important, as cancellations or delays will affect the day’s schedule. As he or she is doing this, surgical patients are also arriving and must be checked in. Here’s where the multi-tasking of front desk management begins.
The schedule ramps up
Once the clinic officially opens, your receptionist will immediately begin checking in the morning appointments. At the same time, the phone is likely starting to ring with inquiries from prospective clients, appointment requests for existing clients and other questions. Your receptionist must be diligent to not let calls go unanswered but also attend to those clients and patients who are arriving at the front desk. The goal is to make each client feel important, which is not an easy task when there’s so much going on.
Adding to the chaos
In addition to morning appointments arriving and calls coming in, the receptionist is also responsible for greeting walk-ins. Some may be there to inquire about services or find out if their pet can be seen right away. The same goes for emergency calls. This is why scheduling is such an important front desk management skill. Squeezing in appointments where others have cancelled keeps the entire practice running well and ensures profitability.
Lending a helping hand
Your receptionist isn’t just there to hold down the front desk. Other staff members frequently call upon him or her to assist with their day-to-day work. For instance, a vet tech might ask the receptionist to help her locate a client’s file, or the doctor may request that the front desk agent make an outgoing call to follow up about a particular patient. Juggling their regular duties alongside everything else that’s coming their way is an essential component of good front desk management.
A typical day in the life of a veterinary receptionist can sometimes be compared to a rollercoaster of emotions. In any given moment, there could be immense joy of greeting a brand new puppy or kitten followed by tremendous grief and sadness over the passing of a long-time patient. Being able to control emotions and respond appropriately to any situation is one of the most challenging parts of front desk management.
It may not be formal, like in a book or a classroom setting, but a veterinary receptionist is learning every day. Whether it’s finding out the details on a particular heartworm medication, getting up to speed about the latest pet food recall or brushing up on the protocol for pre-surgical patients, being armed and prepared to respond to clients with as much accurate information as possible is important. This not only takes some of the heat off of the rest of the staff, but it provides a much more positive client experience overall.
Another critical component of front desk management is handling the checkout process with practice growth and revenue in mind. A savvy receptionist will be able to seamlessly recommend forward booking for additional services as clients check out. He or she might also upsell by suggesting the purchase of certain products. Of course, all of this must be done in a way that puts the client’s needs first and doesn’t feel pushy or unnatural (hence why we used the term “savvy.)
As you can see, a veterinary receptionist is much more than just someone who fields calls. He or she is an integral member of your staff and responsible for keeping your clinic running like a well-oiled machine. Recognizing all of the things that go into front desk management should help you gain a new appreciation for what your receptionist means to your practice.