Training and Educating Front Office Staff: Handling Difficult Behaviors

medical staffA patient shows up at the front desk and they are yelling, crying, frustrated, upset, overwhelmed, angry, aggravated, pushy, demanding, and disoriented. In other words, they are an absolute mess and your front office staff is on the receiving end of this behavior.

So what should they do?

Front office staff is on the front lines of battle and can sometimes be placed in situations where they have to be nose-to-nose with patients that are not at their best. Besides, patients are not at their best when they go to the doctor for the fact that they are there due to there being something wrong. At the same time, the staff is asked to create a caring, warm, and customer service focused environment for patients and they have to be able to answer questions when they are asked.

With some front office training, the front office staff can learn how to better handle patients when they are not feeling well, are confused, and just want answers. A healthcare consultant that offers training and education for front office staff can make a considerable difference in how welcoming the staff is. When the staff is welcoming and accommodating, patients may calm down and feel more valued, which can go a long way.

Objectives of Training

Some of the objectives of training and development are as follows:

•    Learn how to address Internet and phone communications with patients
•    Discuss how to create a waiting room and front desk area that is safe, comfortable, and warm
•    Address how front office staff can receive support when they need it
•    Discover how to use things, such as food and beverages to calm and de-esculate situations (when possible)
•    Be able to address problems specific to the patient
•    Brainstorm ways to minimize conflict with someone who is potentially going to be a problem
•    Learn how to redirect or say no in a way that doesn’t escalate the situation
•    Learn strategies that create an office environment that supports faculty, students, and staff in crisis
•    Generate fun, innovative ideas that calm people who are stressed out (such as a TV in the waiting room or music playing) and learn how to implement these approaches

While some of these may seem simple or like “no brainers,” it is about making multiple elements work together for the good of the patient. When something is done for the good of the patient, it is also done for the good of the practice. A practice that can make patients feel comfortable is one that is going to retain their patients and attract new ones. One of the things that people tend to share feedback about the most is the medical care that they receive, so it has to be good from the moment they walk into the door until the moment they leave.

A Prepared Front Desk Staff is Good Marketing

Another thing to consider in training and development is that a prepared front desk staff makes for good marketing. As mentioned before, a practice that can make the patients feel comfortable is one that is going to keep their patients and bring in new ones. Word of mouth is everything. If the belligerent patient goes and tells their friends and family that the staff did not accommodate them, then many others are going to know the story. While individuals do not know exactly what happened why that patient was there, they will still assume they know the facts based off of what they’re told. While the same can be said for positive feedback about a practice, positive feedback usually includes more of the facts.

If a practice does everything possible to ensure that the patient is calmed and taken care of, then an impression is going to be made on that patient and, once again, they are going to tell others about their experiences. This shows how front office training can have a positive impact on repeat business and referrals.

Doing such things as answering calls cheerfully with a standard call greeting, confirming why the caller is calling, greeting patients with a smile, and not getting upset when a patient is upset are things that are going to go a very long way with the patients and how they feel about the practice.


To enhance your practice even more, bettering front office staff will go a long way. To learn about our training and development services that will help make your front office staff even more effective, call us at 508-946-1665 or complete our contact form so someone from our office can contact you.