What’s wrong with this greeting?

 “Are you here for your cleaning? Take a seat in the waiting room, Mrs. Smith. The Hygienist will be with you in a few minutes.”

 What’s wrong with this greeting?
1..It’s not a welcome in any shape or form. No enthusiasm, no appreciation, no rapport, no engagement. no love. There might as well be a robot and a clipboard.
2. Why ask a patient what they are “here” for?  Did your computer software crash?
3. I am tempted to “take a seat”, as you say, and put it in my car.
4. “Waiting room”? So that’s what we do here- “wait”.
5. “The Hygienist”? She has a name, too.
And YOU may please add your “pet peeves” to this list.

We’re not finished yet!

Now suggest your best professional, friendly, and elegant substitutions for these archaic dental terms, and feel free to add to the list.


cleaning                  [The janitor will give you a cleaning today]
probe (noun)          [“Is that going to be with that pointy thing that you stick in my gums?”]
probe (verb)           [“You are going to do WHAT to me?”]
waiting room           [“…. for how long?”]
Hygienist                 [“Hygienist” is correct, but aren’t there more services and skills offered by this professional?]
front desk (inanimate object)    [It’s usually wood and formica, but can’t we call that area something more elegant?]
Front Desk (the human at the inanimate object)    [With this one, I cringe! How can a dentist show so little respect to someone who is so important to the image and success of the practice?]
drill (noun)
drill (verb)

6 thoughts on “What’s wrong with this greeting?

  1. Oh my goodness, you are so right on cold and sterile greetings!! They do NOTHING to encourage relationships nor make anyone feel “welcome”. We try to discourage our staff from using the words below, but offer here my/our office suggestoins.
    cleaning “maintenance”
    probe (verb) “measurments”
    waiting room “reception area”
    Hygienist unfortunate as it is, inserting her name after using the word hygienist is most apporpriate I feel. ie: “This is Phyllis, she is our hygienist and will be taking care of you today”
    front desk “greeting area”
    Front Desk Our doctors refer to us as “Nicki, our financial coordinator, Cindy our schedule coordinator, or Adriann, our “we-care” specialist. If any of them refers to us as “the front desk” they know to run away… FAST!! 🙂
    Assistant Again, we use first names here ALWAYS..
    drill When working on kids we say “the tooth whistle”, on adults we say “handpiece”
    drill Removing sugar bugs, (pedo version) Removing decay for the big guys
    So, there you have it…. our version of nicer verbage!! And may I suggest, we ALL use kinder verbage in our offices!

    • Hi Cindy~
      I liked your comments and improvements. Thanx.
      I published them in several LI groups and gave you and your Dental Practice attribution.
      You’re a good influence.

  2. Awww, shucks! It was nothin”…. Thank you though for acknowledging me. I have been in the “world of teeth” for 19 years now, and I pride myself in the level of customer service and professionalism that we all provide here in our office! Now, can you call my bosses and tell them I need a raise!!! Ha Ha… Cindy

  3. Why has customer service gone out the window in so many businesses these days? If we are nothing else, we should at least be serving our customers, or in this case our patients.
    I have walked into offices where I wasn’t even looked at, but told to have a seat.
    Do doctors have ANY idea who’s at their front desk? Do they realize the message they are conveying through this person?
    If you get me started, I won’t be able to shut up. I am writing a book and a blog to share my feelings about leadership and communication. But I really don’t know if doctors even realize that they don’t exhibit leadership, nor communicating properly. I have a felling my book will be a hard sell because they just don’t get it.
    Please prove me wrong! http://tinyurl.com/7h6ruo3

  4. While you speak, or write as the blog process attests, of doctors not realizing what or WHOM they have residing as the “voice and face of their practice” and thinking it to be a HARD SELL because they won’t “get it” in regards to their own leadership? I know that may be true in some practices, but there are others, namely one I know extremely well (Southern Vista Dental Care, Mesa Az.) where I am the resident voice and face of this practice, that has a unique leadership team.

    We are blessed to have three very talented dentists who own this practice, who VALUE what each team member brings to them, especially in the art of communications. I have been in this type of position for a very long time, there have been different methods of training customer service, some are great, some aren’t. But truly, if your doctors/leaders have passion for what they do, realize value for relationships that are developed as a part of great communications, it is only natural that they would surround themselves with a team that is like minded….

    I say, YES. Most other offices are in desperate need of what your book will most likely share with them, but I also say DON’T give up on them!!! Write, explain, pass along, describe, they will develop the skills if it is in their hearts to be passionate about caring for people!!!! Thank you for taking the time to post this blog entry and I will look forward to knowing the release date for your book!!

    Cindy Fox

  5. Jackie,
    I can “feel” your frustration through your writing and I completely understand!
    I am very excited to read your book when its out!
    I completely agree with Cindy. It’s appears that if the doctors/dentists truly care about what they do, that energy will make its way through out the office and harmony is reached eventually.
    I have found that where these unprofessional and unkind human beings taking up space in the reception area reside, there is also a burnout, unethical dentist in the back on his cell phone playing games with a patient in the chair. Lol

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