The other day a new patient, whose name is Gina, approached my desk after her first hygiene appointment. Gina quietly asked if I would reschedule her next hygiene appointment. As this appointment was just scheduled it in the hygiene room, I was curious, was it scheduled on the wrong day or time? No, Gina replied, the day and time were OK, what she wanted was to be schedule with a different hygienist. I began to wonder what the problem could be.
The problem, she told me was the hygienist’s poor customer service skills. Her customer service skills, how could this be? This hygienist certainly is likeable; she has never had a complaint! The patient began to tell me her thoughts.
Gina told me that the hygienist was extremely polite. The problem was that Gina felt that the hygienist was not listening to her. She told me that the hygienist asked her where she worked. Gina stated that she answered the question, but took notice that the hygienist was not looking at her, she was typing on her computer keyboard, looking directly at the monitor. Gina felt that this was a bit rude but was willing to let it slide until the hygienist stopped typing and began to set up the x-ray machine. I was a bit anxious to hear the answer, so I took a deep breath, and I asked her, “Tell me, what happened next”?
Gina said that again, she was asked; “where do you work”? Gina felt insulted; she felt that the hygienist did not care. “If she cared about me and my oral health, she would have listened.” Gina was right, and she did not feel valued. I immediately apologized and rescheduled her appointment to one of the other hygienists.
After Gina had left, I realized how important that it is for patients to know that we are listening. Do you listen or do you just hear? Are your thoughts racing, planning your next sentence as someone else is speaking? Do you stop, and actually pay attention to what they are saying?
Talk to your patients, knee to knee, eye to eye. Many of us become complacent and forget that the patients just want to believe that we are listening and that we care. Do more than just hear them, LISTEN to what they say!
“So when you are listening to somebody, completely, attentively, then you are listening not only to the words, but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed, to the whole of it, not part of it.”~ Jiddu Krishnamurti ~
With your success in mind,