Professionalism with a Smile

Patients entering an office for the first visit want to be reassured that they are in the right place where there needs for comfort, quality and service will be met with professionalism, and a smile.  Professionalism is often seen as a stern or mono-tone voice giving exact instructions and making few mistakes with systems and quality of results.  The truth is that professionalism involves many things, but one of the most important is courtesy.

Courtesy recognizes that the customer is a person who deserves to be treated with kindness, consideration and patience, no matter what the circumstances.  Unfortunately, the business of the daily tasks often turn patients into a number, or worse yet and inconvenience, as the doctor and staff seek to survive the scheduling system and get to the end of the day.  Ask yourself, “Today, did I stop and treat my patients in a courteous manner and in such a way that they felt I recognized them as a person, and not simply a task to be performed?” 

Courtesy begins with a smile and treating patients as if they were guests in your home.  There is no greater universal sign that you care about a person and are willing to build a relationship with them than a good, old fashioned smile.  Professionalism without smile is like eating ice cream without the sugar in it.  It looks like ice cream, it may taste like chocolate or vanilla, and it may have all the nutrients of ice cream, but few would want to eat it if it was only cold cream.  Ice cream must be sweet or it is not worth eating, just as professionalism must have a smile or it may not be worth experiencing.  

Besides, what does it cost to smile?  Have you ever considered that the cost of a smile is not in what it takes you to produce it, but rather what it costs you when you do not give it on a regular basis.  Without research or statistics, but based on many years of consulting experience, I would offer that my clients who smile often have twice the profitability than those offices that rarely smile, but put on a professional demeanor.  Yes, the true cost of a smile comes when you are unwilling to give it to your wife, your children, your fellow staff members and especially to your patients.  Silence is always interpreted negatively and service without a smile is interpreted as if you do not like me or are no interested in me.

So let me suggest that you try an experiment in your office for one week.  For one week encourage your staff to participate in all showing many more smiles to patients and their parents.  Have a contest  where the winner is taken to lunch by the rest of the time if they smile the most and are the most friendly to the patients, parents and to fellow staff members.  Flashing a smile should not only be done regularly, every 1-3 minutes in a service business, but it also must be done genuinely and without hypocrisy.  Everyone can tell a true smile from a fake one, just as everyone knows if you truly care about others or are more concerned about your work and getting the tasks accomplished. 

Smiling and professionalism go hand in hand, and cannot be separated in the successful professional office.  Try smiling more and watch everyone around you begin to light up and enjoy there time in your office.  Soon you will find them sending referring their friends and telling their dentists that you are the very best office in the region.  They may not be able to say why, but they will know that you have treated them with the highest professionalism in your service, because they will know that you are concerned about them as a person and not just working on their teeth.   Give your patients something to smile about by Professionalism with a Smile. 

Ken Alexander, Founder