How to Hire the Best Receptionist for Your Dental Office

Samir Sampat

Every dental office needs the best person at the front desk. This is a place where a friendly face can make a huge difference in the way that patients and clients feel when coming to your office. Even in the virtual realm, you’ll want to have a dedicated “face” for your business in the way of a receptionist that can field calls, messages, and other needs that you have. 

For some dental offices, the individual that mans the desk can also handle the virtual tasks: responding to emails, handling any website inquiries, and so forth. In some cases, though, you might need different people for each role. Fortunately, to help you decide what will be best for your practice specifically, we’ve created a simple guide. In this article, we’ll discuss how to find the best receptionist(s) for your dental office, including things like the costs associated with hiring, the benefits of hiring someone, and some frequently asked questions that will help anyone get a better idea of how to proceed with their own receptionist hiring needs. 

Remember, of course, that what your practice needs will likely be quite different than what others have in mind. You may be able to use general guidelines and insight, but don’t just hire someone the same way another practice did because it worked for them. It might not be the right route for you. We’ll talk about that too—the decision to hire or outsource is a big factor in this entire process. 

There are no “right” or “wrong” answers here, but hopefully, the information that we’ve gathered will help you find the right solution for your dental office. The industry continues to become increasingly competitive, and you’ve got to make sure that you’re delivering the higher level of service that today’s patients demand. Even if you don’t have a large practice, your digital existence matters just as much as your physical existence. Part of having the right receptionist means embracing and managing that image properly, too. 

Don’t just hire the first receptionist that you come across or assume that what you have is “good enough”. Today’s audience demands a better quality of service in healthcare and expects all of their providers to deliver information and services via the Internet and telehealth services as much as possible. Even just having access to an after-hours service or chat line could make a big impact on your patient satisfaction ratings and increase your referrals. 

Having the right receptionist(s) in place can do a lot for your dental office. Let’s get started by talking about what everyone wants to know first: what’s all this going to cost?


What will a receptionist cost?


The first thing on most people’s minds, of course, is what they’re going to spend on hiring a receptionist. According to research, the salary range for dental receptionists in the U.S. is currently $16-$19 per hour. This depends on things like location, experience, office/practice size, duties/responsibilities, and other factors. 

Then, don’t forget you’ll also have to factor in the cost of benefits, including things like any insurance that you’re paying for, paid time off or vacation time, and so forth. Hiring and onboarding also come at a cost—currently, in the U.S., the average cost to bring on a single employee is about $4K. This includes everything from sourcing candidates to training and other expenses associated with bringing them on board and getting them ready for their roles. 

On the other hand, you could choose to outsource to a third-party virtual receptionist service or contract a receptionist when you need one. That gives you more of a chance to do things on your own terms. It also allows you to get the same services that you’d get from an in-house receptionist, and perhaps more, for a fraction of the cost. You won’t have the salary, but you also won’t have to pay for things like onboarding, benefits, overhead, and so forth. 

This is why you need to look into your options and think about what’s going to be best for your practice. In some cases, it makes perfect sense to hire someone in-house. In others, it’s best to outsource. And still more practices, and businesses of all kinds, are embracing the combination today of having in-house assistance and a dedicated virtual receptionist service to handle after-hours concerns, live website chat, and other needs. 

Which solution sounds best for you? Let’s discuss what you can get from your investment to help you decide. 


The value of a good receptionist


There are several different things that a receptionist can do for your dental office. Having someone in the office ensures that patients will be greeted, checked in, and made comfortable while they wait. It will also ensure that patients can call your practice and get through, even if you and your hygienists are hard at work and unavailable (not that any of you should be in charge of answering phones in the first place, but we understand things happen). 

In today’s modern world, several other benefits come from having a receptionist. For your practice, it’s a great way to allow patients to reach out after hours and talk to a person instead of leaving a message on a machine. It’s also going to help you with your online presence and social media—while your front desk receptionists are greeting, answering, and filing, your virtual receptionists can handle responding to Facebook messages, answering the live chat on your website, and so much more. 

Perhaps you just need a temporary receptionist because yours is going on leave, or you’ll be in-between help for a short period. In that case, you’ll find virtual receptionist solutions that can fill in the gaps and deliver premium service that doesn’t skip a beat in the meantime. They can act as a dedicated face of your dental brand and make sure that all communications and admin tasks are handled in a timely fashion so that you’re not doing it yourself or watching the office fall behind during the gap. 

Receptionists can offer assistance with things like:

  • Scheduling and managing appointments 
  • Maintaining your office (physically and/or virtually)
  • Handling phone calls, routing messages, and responding to emails
  • Fielding general questions and calls
  • Creating correspondence, website content, and other material as needed
  • Managing and coordinating relationships with patients, vendors, peers, and others
  • Other administrative and communications tasks as needed

You can even have a service handle all of your follow-up calls or reminder calls so that you don’t have to do it yourself and your patients still get the professional courtesy that they deserve. This is just a sampling of the solutions a receptionist can provide. What they actually do will be entirely up to you. 


In-house vs. virtual receptionists (outsourcing)


Here’s another debate you’ll need to consider. While having any receptionist at all can benefit your practice, it helps to get the right one for the job. As mentioned in the section about the cost of receptionists, you may not have the budget for someone to be on your staff full-time (or even part-time). 

Some other considerations when you are debating between in-house and outsourcing a receptionist include:

  • Do you need someone in-house? Say your front desk is already staffed and you’re just looking for a little additional support for online communications and after-hours calls. In that case, it would be better to outsource to a service that can provide these solutions. If you do need an in-house receptionist, take that into account. 
  • What kind of services or assistance do you need? A receptionist is a great asset, but you have to have the right one(s) for the job. If you want a dynamic solution, for example, it might be better to outsource to a virtual receptionist service than to hire a single person to work your front desk. 
  • Are you looking for more talent at a lower cost? When you outsource, you remove the location factor and increase the chances that you’ll find receptionists and services that offer more affordable options than a salaried employee. You can even get a team with comprehensive skills at a fraction of what you’d pay someone in-house, in many cases. 
  • Do you have the time to delegate duties and manage a receptionist? If not, having an outsourced contractor or service that can self-manage is going to be a better option. Plus, when you outsource with teams like Smith.ai, you’ll be able to create a dynamic solution that ensures that everything is handled without missing a beat. 

These are just a few considerations to help you decide where you should be sourcing your talent from. Remember, there’s a lot more than you are used to out there and you need to take advantage of it to find the best receptionist for your dental office. 


FAQs for hiring your dental office receptionist

To wrap things up, we decided to cover a few frequently asked questions and their answers. These will summarize and further educate you on the important factors involved in hiring the right receptionist for your dental practice. Take notes, take the time to find what you need, and watch your practice flourish as a result. 


Does my receptionist need dental office experience?

While experience is helpful, it’s certainly not required. If you have an opening that requires working with insurance companies or a complex filing system, it could behoove you to choose a receptionist with previous medical expertise, or at least experience in these areas. However, it’s not essential because as long as they have the basic skills, things like insurance, filing, and software skills can be taught. 


Is using a virtual receptionist secure enough for healthcare?

A lot of dental and medical providers worry about the security and privacy involved in using a virtual receptionist service. However, you’ll be happy to know that reputable companies all use top-rated security and encryption features to ensure that your data is secure, and their work is done with patient privacy in mind at all times. Choosing a virtual receptionist is a lot more secure and protective in that regard than many people realize. 


What should I look for in a receptionist when I want the best?

This is a question that ultimately, only you can answer. However, you can use the information in this article to guide you, including checking out things like the services available, what types of tasks the receptionist can handle (compared to what you need), and so forth. You’ll want to find the best fit for your practice, whatever that entails. 


What if I need a receptionist to deal with payments and other needs?

Perhaps you’re considering digital payments or other online solutions, but you don’t have the means to staff them yourself. Hiring a virtual receptionist allows you to have a single person that can handle it all, including payment collection, scheduling, new patient intake, and so much more. Whatever you need, it’s out there. You just have to know where to look. 


Add the virtual receptionist solutions available from Smith.ai and supercharge your front lines of communication 


An in-office receptionist is great, but they certainly can’t be available all the time, and there’s no way they can handle all the tasks required of a modern dental office. Even if you’re just looking for a little after-hours support or someone to handle the virtual receptionist needs of your dental clinic, the dedicated receptionists at Smith.ai are standing by and ready to get to work. 

Our team of receptionists is available to offer 24/7 solutions for communication, from answering calls to fielding live website chats, Facebook and SMS messages, and even offering assistance with administrative tasks like scheduling and intake, and so much more. We’ll also help you create a dynamic strategy to ensure we’ve got it all covered, no matter what you need. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation to find out what the 24/7 virtual receptionists from Smith.ai can do for your dental office, from taking calls and messages to anything else you may need. You can also reach us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484.


Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing and Events Associate with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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