Mission Possible: Finding the Right Fit at the Front Desk
Keys to Keeping a Successful Front Desk
There are many touch points a patient has before they meet you in the office. Many of those interactions can make or break your patients’ experience with you before they even have a chance to actually meet you. This happens all too often and all too easily with a simple misstep at the front desk. The front desk can either be an inviting experience that assures patients’ they’re in for a timely professional experience, OR it can be a disorganized nightmare that lets patients know they are just a number in a very long list of other patients. The front desk is the face of your office. They are the first and last experience your patient will have. Take a minute to ask yourself ‘does this person represent the team that we are and the amazing services we have to offer?’ Today we’re taking a closer look at what goes into finding the right fit at the front desk.
You want to hire someone who sees this opportunity as just that. An opportunity. This isn’t just a short time gig until they can find something else. You want this person to look at this job as one that’s a value to your team. Now, how do you accomplish this? For a front desk employee to care about their job, they need to feel cared about. Ask yourself, how can I make this position worthwhile to them? Is it something as simple as an upgrade to the office coffee brand you stock in the kitchen? Giving the employee a free and simple indulgence like a special coffee they don’t have to leave the office for may just help make their day a little brighter. Or, maybe it’s a free membership to Spotify/Pandora that helps make the hours on the job more musical and pleasant. Remember, it’s not just about finding a motivated person, it’s also about facilitating the motivation in them. It doesn’t have to cost a lot, but simple creative adds like these are sure to give you a positive return.
What’s in it For Them?
The job at the front desk can be known for its ungenerous paycheck for a generous amount of work expectations. How can you make this job more than just a paycheck to your employee? Is there a way the job experience can be further enriched, equipping the employee with some additional skillsets. From our own experience, we have found a way to enrich our employees experience by offering an offsite training accreditation that can help them earn more over time when completed. We’ve also offered onsite training with certified coders and staff auditors in the past as a way of adding value to our employees job experience. Additionally, we’ve found that another great way to attract a great candidate is to out-pay your competitors. Do a little research, find out what the going rate is for the position and raise it. By raising the rate even a little bet you’ll attract more candidates and keep their interest. Lastly, when you can offer a bonus for a job well done, it can really encourage your employees to try a little harder. Speaking from our own experience, we’ve offered bonuses to our employees when they’ve accomplishment booking a certain amount of new appointments or confirming initial appointments to help encourage our employees and inspire them to stay on tract.
Can Their Weaknesses Be Overlooked?
When interviewing ask them what their weaknesses are- then consider if it’s something that can be worked on or if its something that’s inherently a part of their personality. For example, a response to “what are your weaknesses?” may be something along the lines of “I don’t have a lot of experience with computer software.” You as the employer can then decide, do you have the time to provide more training in that area for this person, or is time not on our side? It’s our personal philosophy that if a candidate exemplifies the right attitude, eagerness and the ability to thrive within our team concept, not having the ideal background can be overlooked and we are willing to move forward looking at the candidate as an investment. You can also consider providing a short computer test to assess where the applicant is in their computer abilities. You should never in any circumstances settle when something doesn’t align with the majority of your needs, no matter your level of desperation. If you don’t have the time to train someone and they are short on something you need now, then it’s a solid sign you should keep looking.
Asking for the Right Things:
Does your job description capture everything you expect from applicants? Think about what your advertisement for the job sounds like. Does it sound attractive without over delivering. Consider a simple bullet list of characteristic traits. In our opinion, here is a list of attributes a front desk employee should encapsulate.
Attention to Detail
- Time Management
- Problem Solving
- Customer Service
- Receptiveness to Feedback
- Willing to Learn
- Professional Appearance
- Customer Care – added from is there a characteristic that demonstrates an interest in healthcare
- Company Ambassador
- Proficiency in Microsoft Office (or software they are looking for)
In your interviewing process, you could consider providing a list like this to your applicant. Ask them to circle the three attributes that fit their personality best. Then ask them to expand on this. This also gives you the opportunity to see how their conversational skills are, another important trait of a stellar front desk employee.
Ask for References and Redeem Them
It’s only natural to ask for references during the application process. One thing to consider is adding an additional layer to this process by offering a bonus to the reference if the applicant accepts the job and maintains their position their for a certain number of months. References are a great way to vet that your applicant is everything they claim to be. Make sure you have at least one from the position they currently hold to get a clear idea about what kind of employee they are right now.
Team Build Weekly
The front desk employee needs to feel part of the team. When employees feel a part of the team they show up when the team needs them. Are there simple team building exercises you can do weekly or monthly to incorporate them into your team more? Some offices have started weekly meditation sessions where employees gather to meditate for just 5 minutes. Studies have shown that a simple 5 minute break like this can help with productivity significantly. If it’s not meditation, could a team pot luck once a month be something that brings the team together beyond the job? Remember, being a team means practicing being a team together – if you practice when the stress is off you’re more likely to respond more professionally when the pressure is on.
Offer Constructive Feedback
We’ve found that weekly or monthly touch points have helped us stay on tract and help our employees stay on the same page as us. When you set expectations for your employees it’s a simple way of open up communication. It lets the people working for you know what you need from them and lets them know if they are delivering. It also allows employees the opportunity to express what is working for them and what is not. Employees are more likely to come to you with an issue or communicate what is challenging them, rather than gossiping or just giving up. Scheduling these meetings opens the gates for stronger communication, and that ultimately gives you both a stronger understanding of each other, resulting in less awkward surprises in the future.
Finding the right fit at the front desk is a challenge for everyone, but perhaps by trying a few of these simple ideas out you may discover it might not be as impossible of an endeavor as it once was.