The front desk is the lifeline of any practice. The reception staff is the first people patients see on the way in and the last people they deal with on the way out. The way they treat patients sets the tone for the entire practice.

Among the common complaints from cosmetic patients are about the way they are greeted on their first visit to the practice. If the receptionist is texting her boyfriend, shopping online or putting callers on hold and acting disinterested, that sends a clear message about what kind of practice you are running. It is vital to make patients feel welcome and special, and for the check-in process to run seamlessly.

Patients should be greeted immediately when they enter. At a minimum, the receptionist should look up, even if she is on a call or on her computer, and acknowledge the patient standing there. Getting patients’ names wrong or having the wrong chart pulled are other mistakes that may fly in an internist’s office but can be deal breakers in an elite cosmetic practice.

Multi-tasking is a vital skill for a professional reception staff. Having streamlined processes in place will help patients to feel that the practice values their time. Therefore, don’t overload the receptionist with clerical tasks or posting on social media. His or her chief function should be to be the concierge of the practice and to maximize the efficiency and experience of patient visits.

Another equally critical function of the front desk is the checkout atmosphere. Quoting and collecting fees in a professional manner takes a certain skill set. This should be done courteously, quietly and discreetly. Ideally, this should take place in a secure environment where there is some degree of privacy, if space allows. Money should be collected, receipts emailed if possible and/or printed if requested, and each patient should be offered the opportunity to make a follow-up appointment before they leave the practice.

Lastly, it goes a long way to win patients over to be greeted by name by a staff member. Patients appreciate a practice where the staff remembers them, rather than with a snippy tone from an impatient receptionist who comes across as disinterested and distracted. It sets a tone from the first point of contact that you care about patients and each one of them is important to the practice.

Think about the amenities of a Ritz Carlton and why this group of hotels commands the fees and reputation they have. The staff is polite, friendly and crisply dressed at all times. The front desk is neat as a pin and well maintained. The high level of service and luxury is consistently applied throughout the properties that bear the brand’s name. Consistency is key. Guests know what to expect when they stay at a Ritz and they are willing to pay for that assurance. You can never go wrong by modeling your aesthetic practice after luxury service businesses.