7 Ways Your Waiting Room Design Influences the Clients at Your Clinic


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Waiting rooms are always awkward spaces. They’re designed as somewhere for you to spend time before you go where you actually need to be.

A lot of businesses miss the opportunities presented by these ‘in-between’ places. They don’t spend much time on how they look or feel. They don’t want people to spend much time in these spaces.

Instead, you can use the design of the space to reinforce ideas about your dental practice.

More than 60 percent of people suffer from dental fear. Your waiting room design can even calm frayed nerves or improve their dental hygiene. 

Wondering how else your waiting room design can influence your clients? Read on to learn 7 ways it has an impact.

1. It Can Either Calm or Cause Stress

As we’ve already said, 60 percent of people are afraid of visiting the dentist. Being in the waiting room can serve to heighten their stress. Clients can panic about what they see as an impending ordeal.

Use your waiting room design as a space to soothe their anxieties. Most offices use a stack of magazines or a TV as a distraction for bored patients.

Trouble is, having a TV showing the news or other high-intensity shows can be an extra source of stress. Breaking news can even cause headline stress disorder in extreme cases.

That doesn’t mean you can’t use a TV to provide a distraction. Instead, choose programs that are the TV equivalent of chill-out music.

Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting is an eternal favorite with his gentle delivery and homespun philosophy. Or consider gardening shows where the hosts don’t rush or get over-excited.

These shows have the added benefit of using popular pastimes to distract clients from the dental experience.

2. You Can Use Colors to Calm Clients

Not only can the TV soothe stress, so can the colors you choose. White is a good option because people associate white with cleanliness and hygiene.

This shows clients that your dental office is clean. They can relax and trust that they’re in good hands.

Or look to calming shades of blue too. Paler blues can sometimes seem cold or distant. Yet blue has a well-known calming effect on those exposed to it.

Blue is also well-known as a popular color within dental branding. Extending the colors of your brand into the waiting room turns the visit into a full-brand experience.

Having a consistent ‘feel’ across all your touchpoints is crucial to promoting feelings of trustworthiness. That includes using the same colors, textures, slogans, and imagery.

Want to do something a little different?

You can promote kindness as well as calm if you use pink. In the past, pink has been used to calm prison inmates and football teams in their locker room!

3. It Can Cement Your Hi-Tech Reputation 

Imagine going into a dental office with cracked vinyl seats and a bubbled linoleum floor. The dog-eared magazines are so old they’ve got Jimmy Carter on the cover.

How relaxed are you going to feel in that waiting room? Will you feel reassured that you’ll get a painless, comfortable experience.

Now imagine going into a sleek and hi-tech office. The dental clinic design is the very picture of minimalism.

Ergonomic seats await you, and you can log into Youtube on the free Wi-Fi. It’s the picture of cleanliness and modernity. How much more secure will you feel in this waiting room?

This kind of design subtly lets clients know you’re happy to invest in new technology. They’ll understand this means they’ll get a high quality, professional experience.

This can also link back into the first way your waiting room can influence your clients. Knowing you’re up to date with the latest technology can soothe their fears about dental procedures.

It can also improve the way they perceive your brand. You’re a business that’s keen to reinvest in the client experience.

4. Your Waiting Room Design Encourages Social Distancing

We don’t expect that many dental offices were ready for the COVID-19 pandemic. While many countries thankfully seem to have passed the peak, social distancing may remain in place for some time.

This means spacing out seats in your waiting room. Provide comfortable places for lone clients who want to isolate as much as they can. Create family spaces for groups who attend appointments together.

We hope social distancing isn’t here to stay. Yet redesigning your waiting room to suit the requirements will show your patients you care about their safety.

The reorganization of your seating should only be temporary. You might have to remove some seats or temporarily replace them with plants.

Whatever you do, let clients know that the changes are for their benefit. We stress again these changes are temporary

You don’t want to stress out clients with another reminder of the disruption caused by the pandemic.

5. The Design Makes Clients Feel Welcome

Following on from point #4, you also want your clients to feel welcome. That means providing enough seating so no one is left standing.

Yes, we know it contradicts social distancing. See if you can find a creative way to combine the two. Or put the seating plan into practice when social distancing ends.

If there isn’t enough room for clients to sit, it can make them feel crowded. It also reflects badly on your practice.

The message is that you have too many patients and not enough dentists. Or it can also show that your dentists take too long to perform treatments.

By keeping the flow of clients moving, it makes you look efficient and professional. It also helps to lower anxiety by keeping waiting times short.

After all, if you walk into a waiting room and no one is waiting? You have less time to get anxious and you know you won’t get bored.

Go one step further and provide a ‘soft’ space for children. Provide toys for them to play with, and somewhere that’s both comfortable and safe.

If your practice has space, consider a fun playroom for them while they wait. Check out other dental office design ideas to see how this can be done.

You can always include coloring sheets for adults if you want to give them something mindful to do while they wait.

6. Lift Moods With Natural Sunlight

Natural sunlight is essential to our wellbeing. Exposure to it helps us to moderate our moods. It certainly helps that it’s free to access.

You may not think that a few minutes waiting in your office might have much of an impact. Yet giving clients access to natural sunlight is an easy way to boost their mood.

Natural sunlight also helps spaces look large and airy. You can make a smaller waiting room look bigger by combining white furnishings with natural light.

This doesn’t just make your clients feel happier while they’re there. It can also make them think differently about your office.

Having windows and natural light helps the waiting room feel less like a dental office. It might feel more like a room at home or in their workplace.

To further amplify this ‘not a dental office’ feel, put in a water cooler. Drinking water can help soothe stress and it encourages clients to think about what they drink.

7. Educate Clients While They Wait

Making a waiting room more interesting can depend on a variety of factors. Sometimes you can choose thought-provoking artwork or calming scenes.

Hang images by local photographers on the wall. Choosing old images of your town from earlier decades can be a great distraction tactic. Let clients try to figure out which streets they’re looking at.

Or use the opportunity to educate clients while they wait. Some dental offices plaster the walls with information posters.

Trouble is, that gets confusing and bombards clients with too many conflicting messages. Many posters can be stressful thanks to their ‘doom or gloom’ warnings.

Instead, commission infographics with interesting tips or facts. Give them the answers to frequently asked questions. Choose a conversational, easy-to-understand tone.

Create a cartoon character for the kids, teaching them how to care for their teeth. Maybe hide the character around the waiting room like a dental version of Where’s Waldo?

Which of These Waiting Room Design Ideas Will You Try?

Getting the right waiting room design should come from the client experience. If you create the space with their needs in mind, the design should hit the right notes.

Remember to use a combination of color, music, comfortable seating, and distractions to soothe their mood. Educate them with the right balance of interesting things to look at.

A little technology goes a long way. Even if it’s just free Wi-Fi, your clients can choose how to amuse themselves.

If in doubt, ask your clients what they’d like from your waiting room. By providing what they ask for, you show them you value their input. It also helps give you ideas you might not have thought of yourself.

Keen to start switching up your waiting room design? Check out our recent posts for more interior design ideas.