Why Your Dental Receptionist Can Make or Break Your Office

Dental receptionist in white coat answering phone at desk

In the past, we’ve detailed the immense value of dental hygienists and dental assistants. Both earn a few thousand in bonafide revenue each day. And both have a massive amount of proven data supporting their value.

But what about dental receptionists?

What kind of value do receptionists provide? How much revenue do they generate? And is it important to hire receptionists with specific soft skills or technical capabilities?

The Role of the Dental Receptionist

The ideal dental receptionist is basically a Swiss army knife. They’re your customer service representative, your first-line salesperson, and your administrator and scheduler.

A common misconception is that — because dental receptionists do not require as much schooling — dental receptionists are easy to find. Or, that office receptionist experience easily crosses into the dental space.

Both are false.

A good dental receptionist is a needle in a haystack. And to help illustrate this, we want to showcase all of the soft and hard skills dental receptionists should have:

  • Answering and screening incoming phone calls with a great attitude, while also providing tangible value to patients by answering questions and solving problems
  • Greeting walk-in patients with a smile, and helping them feel comfortable
  • Providing sales by explaining dental plans and the benefits of specific procedures
  • Maintaining your entire document ecosystem — including tests (copying, filing, sorting, etc.)
  • Communicating with dental supply vendors, and (simultaneously) keeping a consistent stream of salespeople from interrupting the daily workflow of the office
  • Managing office supply levels
  • Billing and coding
  • Understanding and dealing with insurance companies (which we all know can be nightmare fuel)

In fact, in many smaller offices, receptionists are quasi-office managers. They assume those responsibilities.

Obviously, finding someone that excels across these skills isn’t easy (there’s a reason salespeople, administrators, and customer service people exist in distinct positions in the business space).

But what if you find a receptionist that’s highly capable and generates additional revenue for your office through strategic sales and fantastic customer service? What kind of value do they provide to your office over time?

Understanding the Value Behind Your Dental Receptionists

Without hyperbole, an excellent dental receptionist brings overwhelming value (in terms of retention, patient satisfaction, and end-to-end revenue) to your office. And to really highlight this, let’s break their duties down into sections (again, receptionists cross many different skillsets, so we have to deconstruct their daily duties)

Customer Service

Dental receptionists are your first-line customer service representatives. They greet patients, take their information, and keep them company while they wait for procedures. And those few moments can make or break your retention strategy.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • 93 percent of people make repeat purchases from businesses that offer excellent customer service (HubSpot)
  • 75 percent of people are willing to continue to do business with a business that makes a major mistake, as long as their customer service was excellent (Salesforce)
  • Boosting patient retention rates by 5% can boost profits by 25 to 95 percent. (Bain and Company)
  • Good initial customer service makes 75 percent of people feel loyal to a brand, and those loyal patients are 38 percent more likely to send you a referral (which have the highest conversion rate of all patient acquisition channels) (Zendesk & Qualtrics)

These statistics are massively important. While dentists, hygienists, and assistants are busy working with patients, your receptionist is creating tiny moments and bursts of communication that can make or break your patient experience. In turn, your receptionist is largely responsible for driving revenue through patient satisfaction.

And this is important. Because, as a whole, the dental industry (and healthcare as a whole) has lower satisfaction rates than most industries. Between dental plan satisfaction rates hitting near all-time lows and the overall trickiness of satisfaction in the context of dental health, the boost provided by fantastic initial customer interactions is huge. In fact, it’s the secret recipe that often defines dental office success, despite these interactions being largely unmeasurable.


We believe that everyone in the dental office has sales responsibilities. And, the amazing part of dentistry is that “upselling” generally just means connecting patients with procedures that would be positive for their health and life.

Receptionists actually have an interesting role in the sales ecosystem. They explain dental plan benefits and help patients understand when and how they need to use their benefits. You want every patient to use their benefits every year. It helps them, and it helps you. If you have a dental membership plan, your receptionist is also responsible for essentially selling this plan to patients.

Sure! Most high-cost procedures are “sold” by the hygienist or dentist. Most receptionists aren’t talking patients into radiographs or implants. But they certainly are helping them utilize their benefits fully, and they can absolutely discuss general procedures like fluoride treatments.

Schedule Coordination and Optimization

For many offices, dental receptionists are (in an effort) dental office managers. We won’t go into the additional requirements these receptionists have, or the things they do. We’ll stick with the basics to ensure this post is impactful across office settings.

That said, dental receptionists are generally responsible for scheduling and general office administration. If they’re good, they keep dentists and hygienists busy without overwhelming them, and they set patient expectations on appointment times from the start.

Better, they don’t only optimize the schedule, they convert phone calls and walk-ins into appointments in a timely and strategic manner.

The easiest way to boost dental office revenue is simple: see more patients. Good receptionists allow you to see more patients by maximizing your scheduling and keeping a steady stream of patients in your chairs.

Plus, a good receptionist keeps office supply use down and informs you of any supply issues that may impact the patient experience.

The Importance of Finding the Right Dental Receptionist

The term “receptionist” and “dental receptionist” are not synonymous. Finding a personable, kind, and hard-working person who also has experience navigating dental insurance companies, billing, coding, and all of the other dentistry-specific tasks that come with the job isn’t easy.

In fact, it can feel downright impossible.

At WORKFORCE, we can help. Our pipeline of +10,000 dental professionals helps us match dental offices with best-fit talent. Our temporary or permanent dental receptionists are experienced, and they have the soft and hard skills necessary to excel at this niche and challenging career.

Are you looking for a dental receptionist capable of helping your office grow?

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