9 Ways to Improve Your Dental Office Waiting Room
A dental office is a hospital environment, and like other hospital environments…it can be nerve-wracking for patients. Fortunately, you can change this by making minor improvements in the front desk area and waiting room. These are the first things your patients see, and making your space more comfortable and inviting can improve your perceived quality of care.
Pro Tip: Improving your waiting room does not mean renovating the whole space! Simple things like those listed above can make your space more welcoming.
Remember, your waiting room is an extension of your brand, and you can make a good or bad first impression.
The goal is to make an excellent first impression so let us briefly detail how you can improve your dental office waiting room.
1. Choose the Right Staff
You can have the best-designed space, but an unfriendly staff will ruin your patient’s experience.
Small acts of kindness, like greeting each patient with a smile, can go a long way. Catching up with regular patients and finding out how they are fairing is also a great way to make patients feel at home.
Some hours are busy, and this can interfere with scheduling. Having someone at the front desk constantly communicating with patients can help improve their experience. Sitting clueless in the waiting room can be frustrating to customers.
Honest and transparent communication from the staff helps keep customers calm and even helps reduce their perceived waiting time.
An ignored customer is unhappy, so train your staff to reach out to the customer first. Learn if they have questions and answer them clearly to help reduce stress and anxiety.
2. Get Better Furniture
A 20-minute wait can seem like a lifetime for a patient sitting on an uncomfortable chair. Antimicrobial chairs are the go-to options for most healthcare facilities, but they are hard and uncomfortable for most patients.
Consider getting a small couch and other singular seats with different designs to cater to patients with various needs. Some people want to avoid sitting next to others, so comfortable individual seating is a preferred option.
Furniture with wide sturdy arms is also convenient, as patients will have somewhere to put their drinks as they wait. Add some tables to make the space feel more like a cozy living room than a waiting room.
2. Rethink Your Waiting Room Layout
Several rows of similar seating make your space look boring and outdated. Patients will also have difficulty moving around, especially if insufficient space between rows exists. Each patient should have enough room to walk through the waiting room and access the front desk.
You should design your layout to cater to the different patient demographics. For example, if you have a pediatric dental practice, designate a kids’ section where they can play quietly (we can always dream, can’t we?!) as they wait.
4. Offer Healthy Snacks and Beverages
If your space is big enough, you can add a self-service snacking section for your patients in waiting. This is a simple and cost-effective way of improving customer experience in your dental practice.
A beverage section could be something as simple as a water dispenser or a mini fridge with bottled water. If you feel fancy, add some coffee pods or bags of green tea.
Healthy snacks like fresh fruit, crackers, and other non-messy foods are also a great addition to your snack booth. When patients enjoy a drink or eat a snack as they wait are less fussy.
Of course, the intention is not to keep them waiting long, but a glass of water can help clean their teeth and prevent dry mouth.
5. Entertain Your Patients
Most patients fear going to the dentist, so creating a relaxing environment in your waiting room is essential.
Including various entertainment options is an excellent way to do this. For example, you can add current magazines and other engaging reading material to the main table.
Soft music in the background is also a great alternative to the usual loud silence in healthcare facilities. It can also help muffle the sounds from dental equipment while working on a patient (AKA, lower anxiety and stress).
Music is also a great way of creating privacy in the waiting room when patients discuss payment and other personal details.
Adding a screen with advertisements and other promotional material can be a good distraction for your patients. Besides that, you can have educational content explaining to your patients the different procedures and other simple things like how to check in or make an appointment.
Educational content is a great way to reduce fear and anxiety among patients before they walk into the exam room. Patients know what to expect, making going through the whole process easier.
6. Add Some Personality with Color
Colors will change how your space looks and affect your patients’ moods.
Your brand colors might seem like a good option but before you paint it on your walls, consider how it will make the place look and feel.
According to the American Dental Association, blue and green are the best colors to create a comfortable environment in your waiting room.
Color is not just for your walls.
Consider purchasing furniture and other décor with different colors. Ensure they all tie into the general design to create a vibrant and cohesive space.
Add some artwork on your walls and ensure it is relevant to each designated space. For example, colorful artwork and furniture make the place look inviting and fun for your little patients if you have a kids’ section.
7. Offer Free Wi-FI
Imagine a patient who has left work to come for their appointment or a parent with a toddler who will only be calmed by cartoons.
Having free WI-FI can in your waiting room can solve these problems and more. Patients who have to reply to work emails can do so, and parents can come with tablets for their kids.
Pro-Tip: Free WI-FI also shows that you are a tech-savvy dentist, a critical feeling to invoke in your patients.
Since your patients will have their digital devices, ensure you have enough electrical outlets in the waiting room.
8. Maintain Cleanliness
All healthcare facilities must be neat and sanitary. Patients walking into an untidy front desk or dusty waiting room is not a good look for your practice.
Pro-Tip: A clean and tidy waiting room will also make the space look bigger if you have a small space.
You can keep your space clean by assigning tasks to each staff member or hiring a cleaning crew. Either way, ensure they remember to clean the windows, furniture, and other corners that gather dust and dirt.
9. Stay Updated
Do you have old magazine copies, advertisements, and other promotional material in your waiting room?
Dated content is one of the biggest red flags you can have in your waiting room. Magazines, brochures, and other marketing material should be updated yearly so your patients can engage with recent issues.
It is equally important to update your technology.
Take advantage of digital signage, and create patient portals and interactive check-in kiosks to create a modern experience. A dated experience will make your dental practice seem out of touch and old.
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