Say This, Not That! Semantics For Dentistry

  • January 2014
  • Posted By Debbie Ellard

Semantics For Dentistry 

Taking the time to evaluate how you say what you say is important. Semantics for dentistry when communicating with patients in the office and on the phone can help solidify a positive customer service reputation. Never miss a chance to ‘Wow’ the person on the other end of the phone line.


Without the benefit of a visual smile it is important that you physically smile when you pick up the phone. Did you know that we can hear a smile?

When receiving a return phone call:

This is __________, thank you so much for returning my call

Before placing someone on hold:

May I place you on hold for a moment?

Thank you. Always say thank you prior to pressing the hold button!

When releasing your patient to the front desk:

John, it was a pleasure meeting you. Lisa will help you from here. Thank you for letting us take care of you today


Have you checked a google map of dentists in your area? These patients have LOTS of choices!

Semantics for dentistry. Patients have choices

Bad or even lackluster customer service might have your patient seeing red! There are plenty of red map markers for dentists in most areas.

How are you? Vs Nice to see you!

If you don’t have time to really listen to the answer from the question, how are you?” don’t ask it! Some patients will welcome the opportunity to list each and every issue and you may have a patient waiting, a phone ringing, 5 minutes to eat, etc. “Nice to see you!” is just as friendly and allows you to pause for the greeting and move on more quickly.

How Do You Mean? Vs What do you mean?

This phrase works well in both normal interactions and when dealing with a difficult personality or situation.What do you mean?” can be misunderstood as a challenge or confrontational reaction in difficult situations and frequently sounds too direct in normal conversations when delivered in business interactions. Social conversations will allow for this choice as the two parties have more time to converse and frequently know each other well enough to process the meaning behind the question.

‘How do you mean?’ conveys that you are interested in understanding their statement and is an invitation for the other party to explain their point of view. It is an invitation that you are willing to listen. Quite frequently when asked to explain, ‘how do you mean?’, the other party slows down and relaxes because they no longer feel defensive. The act of being listened to allows them to reciprocate after explaining their point. They can better understand and receive your information and are able to better process your explanations.

These are just a few of the many ways you can improve your communication with each other and your patients. In the process, your customer service image will improve as well. When semantics for dentistry is a focus for your team, communications with your patients will improve.


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