Communication and Customer Service Skills for the Clinical Team

The clinical staff can influence the way patients think about your practice.

Updated 6/30/20

Everyone on the team is responsible for sending a clear and consistent practice message. The way the clinical team speaks to the patient about the practice needs to be intentional. Here are some ways your staff can communicate to patients that they are receiving quality care:

  • Make a memorable first impression. Develop a professional greeting by shaking the patient’s hand, smiling and looking them in the eye. Go to them in the reception room instead of calling them to you.
  • Speak a service language. Avoid statements such as “Our policy…” or “It’s just a cleaning.” Discuss office protocols from the patients’ perspective–not what the practice requires.
  • Wear a service wardrobe. Appearance does matter. Dress and groom accordingly.
  • Put hospitality first. Eighty percent of the reason a patient chooses your treatment, refers their friends, and keeps coming back is based on the relationship they have established with you.
  • Listen to understand. People care that they are understood. Create the right environment for listening including pace, posture, position.
  • Create the perception of quality. How do you describe the quality of care you provide? What makes your practice exceptional and your fees worthy?
  • Match what the patient wants with what you can do. In order to do this you have to find out what the patient wants. The patient should speak first.
  • Endorse the doctor. Most doctors will not extoll their own clinical excellence—but the team can!
  • Describe how your office systems enhance results. All office protocols should be described in patient friendly terms.
  • Build a performance culture that differentiates the practice. What sets your practice apart? What are key behaviors that demonstrate your quality of care, your exceptional chairside manner, and your commitment to excellence?

Learn More

Read Tips to Create the Ultimate Patient Experience and How to Turn a Difficult Patient Into a Raving Fan for more customer service ideas.

Visit to discover Dentrix solutions that help you communicate with your patients.

By Debra Engelhardt-Nash

Debra Engelhardt-Nash has been in dentistry over 25 years. She is a trainer, author, presenter, and consultant who has presented workshops nationally and internationally. She was a contributing editor for Contemporary Esthetics and Restorative Practice and an editorial board member for Contemporary Assisting. Debra was also an instructor for the Central Piedmont Community College Dental Assisting Program and a guest instructor for Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry. Debra is a founding member and former president of the National Academy of Dental Management Consultants. She is an active member of the American Dental Assistants Association and the American Academy of Dental Practice Administration. Debra has been listed in Dentistry Today as a leader in continuing dental education and dental consulting since 2005. She received the American Dental Assistants Association’s highest honor, the Kay Moser Distinguished Service Award, in 2008, and she has also been chosen as one of the Top 25 Women in Dentistry for 2014 by Dental Products Report. Debra is the 2015 recipient of the Gordon Christensen Lecturer Recognition award, which was presented during the 150th Chicago Midwinter Meeting. Management. Tim is the past president of and a member of the Academy of Dental Management Consultants and a member of the Speaking Consulting Network. He is a member of the Society for Human Resources Management and VetPartners, the professional consulting association for the veterinary industry.

Published as part of a collection of key takeaways from the 2015 Business of Dentistry Conference, along with:

Originally published in Dentrix Magazine, Winter 2015