“I have an appointment” … Oops, No You Don’t!

appointmentMy least favorite thing about running a dental office front desk is when people show up for appointment and they don’t have one on the books!

In this age of electronic confirmation with emails and text, you would think that patients showing up on the wrong date would be a thing of the past. But it’s not. It still happens occasionally and I’ve noticed when it does it is always a 50 plus male, at least at our office.

The other day my patient coordinator said to me “I called Mr. Jones to verify his appointment; he answered the phone and said “yeah, yeah, I got it.” And he hung up. He didn’t allow her to tell him the date and the time. And sure as shooting; there he came the next day for his appointment, a day early as we confirm appointments for two days out!

When I told him, he looked at me, smiled and said, “I didn’t listen to her, it was my fault, I have no patience for the phone.”  I told him about our email service and he passed, “I don’t have one.” I reminded him to watch his mail for the postcard, he said “I’ll come back tomorrow” and he left.

Another time, a busy man showed up a week early and when I told him that we sent him a post card, called all the numbers we have listed and sent an email he replied, “and I put it in my phone” showing me the phone in his hand. “I am so busy, I got confused.” Again this gentleman stated he would come back at his appointed date and time. 87551195

I guess with some people it’s just hard to confirm appointments, you try but they don’t pay attention. 

Please note: When people show up to your office on the wrong date and time. Try to see them if you can. Check their recall/recare due date and see if they will have benefit coverage, if yes and you can make it happen… make it happen.

If not, offer to see them anyway. Tell them you’ll fit them in but their dental benefits will not contribute to the cost because of a frequency rule, offer them a savings or a free exam if they choose to be seen and pay out of pocket. Most patients won’t take you up on that offer …actually, when I’ve done that, no one has but it makes them feel like you’re genuinely trying to help them, that you care.  Express empathy for their time.

If you just can’t find a way to work them in, they can’t sit on another patient’s lap; give them a gift card even though they just told you it was their fault. Keep some gift cards on hand. You patient will appreciate your show of concern, which makes for a loyal patient, turning a negative into a positive!



  1. Dora Vilk-Shapiro | | Reply

    Great ideas, sharing with front office!

  2. tcbdentalconsulting | | Reply

    Great post and great ideas on going the extra mile! Thanks Nomi!

    • Nomi Waters | | Reply

      Thanks Lisa, I am betting that your office goes the extra mile too!!

  3. bettyhayden94 | | Reply

    Very nice reminders! This is a good article for offices to share/discuss at a team meeting because this does happen from time to time. Thank you!

    • Nomi Waters | | Reply

      No matter how hard you try, in spite of multiple ways to verify appointments, I think that there will always be those who just don’t pay attention to the confirmation attempts that you make!

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