Are you WOWing Your Customers When Things Don’t Go To Plan?

One of the side effects or pitfalls of being in business is that sometimes things do not go as planned.

That’s just part of business.

One of the primary things to do, when in business, is to identify where and when things in your business can go wrong, and to try to minimise the occurrences of those service defects.

Following on from that, the next most important thing to do is to have a contingency plan for when things do indeed go wrong.

Knowing each thing that can go awry in your business and knowing what to do to rectify those defects, and then carrying through on your service recovery is what sets great businesses apart from the good and the not so good.

Your service recovery processes in your business need to be so well crafted and created that the experience your customer has during the service recovery is even better for your customer sometimes than if things had actually gone right in the first place.

Fixing your service defects, therefore, cannot be a haphazard process.

There is no point at all in making things up as you go along, when it comes to recovery from service defects.

Your business must have a logical sequential process of service recovery that includes checks and balances and feedback loops to ensure that your processes are indeed hitting home and undoing the original errors and fixing the problems.

A business where employees are on top of the defects when they occur and are empowered to rectify those defects is far more impressive to deal with than businesses that have delayed responses and businesses where employees require permission from higher authorities before acting to make right the original wrongs.

In Dentistry you never want your Front Office people telling callers and patients that they “need to check with the Dentist” about something, before it can be rectified.

Rather, your team members need to be empowered to act independently, in a responsible manner, to take charge and to make good quickly any disappointment experienced by your valued customers and patients.

When things don’t run to plan, and results aren’t consistent, then we need to have protocols in place to limit our customers’ disappointments, and quickly turn those disappointments into fresh positives.

What happens in your Dental Office when a valued patient arrives for their appointment, with an appointment card [with your team member’s handwriting on it], for an appointment that is nowhere to be seen in your appointment book?

That never ever happens…. or does it?

Do you have a service recovery plan?

What if there’s absolutely no way you can see your patient, because there are other patients in need in the appointment book already?

What do we do?

Do we try to see the affected patient anyway, and give them a “rush job”, and at the same time detract from the other patients also appointed at this time?

Or do we just simply apologise profusely, and reappoint the affected patient?

What if we did this?

What if we were able to have a large bunch of flowers delivered that afternoon to the affected patient’s home?


Would that be an olive branch?

Or what if we popped a thank you card in the post so the affected patient received it the next day, and included a $10.00 scratch lottery ticket inside the card?

And what if we wrote in the card:

“Just a small note to let you know how sorry we are that we let you down with your appointment time today.
We are very lucky to have understanding patients like you, when sometimes the simple things can go wrong.
I hope that our feeling of luck rubs off onto you. Please accept this lottery ticket as a gesture of our appreciation.

Best of luck

Dr David [hand signed]

Wouldn’t it be better for our patient to be telling their friends how we sent them flowers or a lottery ticket, rather than to be telling them about how we mixed up their appointment?

Last night I had dinner out with friends, and I saw some good service recovery but it could have been a lot better.

One of my friends had a steak that was presented a little underdone to her liking.

And although the manager came over and apologised to my friend for her disappointment, he and his team could have done a lot more for my friend.

Firstly, my friend pointed out, that there was nobody checking on the meals and how they were cooked, as soon as the diners began eating them.

So my friend battled on with her steak for some time, until finally the rareness got the better of her.

What she would have liked would have been someone checking our table as we began our dishes.

Had that happened, then her meal could have been returned to the kitchen and been re-cooked quickly.

Instead, by the time her meal was re-attended to, everyone else on the table had indeed finished eating, so my friend’s dining “pleasure” was indeed impacted upon by this service defect, and disappointing recovery.

Secondly, once the manager became aware of my friend’s disappointment, he personally came to our table and announced that he was “buying her steak”.

Now I just thought this was local-speak, but my friend said indeed it was not.

What my friend would have preferred him to have said was that there would be “No charge” for her steak.

This would have been far more polite, and sincere.

So our well-intentioned manager missed the mark with his poor choice of words…

It’s important to make sure that all of our communications do indeed hit the mark, and are not ineffective, as this manager’s words were.

My friend said that she felt so disappointed that she would probably not be returning to this restaurant.

And although there was service recovery at this time, it missed its mark.

How are your service recovery systems working for you and your patients?

Are you WOWing your customers when things don’t go to plan?


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The Ultimate Patient Experience is a simple to build complete Customer Service system in itself that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb. If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

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