Don’t Be Only Transactional

A dentist I know very well is very old school in some regards.

One of the things he is traditional about is the keeping of a paper diary, or appointment schedule.

Although this dentist is very computer savvy, he likes to review his calendar by flicking the pages and viewing his diary on a week to a two-page view.

Many years ago this dentist became the owner of a leather-bound six-ring agenda holder, fashioned in France and distributed by one of those fancy luggage stores usually reserved for Fifth Avenue New York, if you get my drift…

In fact, for this dentist, the annual pilgrimage to the Sydney store became such an event for him…. entering the store, enquiring about the agenda pages, making the purchase, having them wrapped and leaving the store with the obligatory carry bag for all to see….it was really such an event for him.

And this year 2021 just gone was no exception, except that when he visited one of the Sydney stores in mid-December, the agenda refill pages that he needed were not available in his size, and needed to be ordered in.

Now because this dentist had no way of getting back in to the city centre before January, the store clerk offered to courier the said agenda refill to his home especially, and especially as his buying history had shown that he had indeed been a regular purchaser over the years of a lot more items than just the agenda pages.

And when you come to think about it really, the agenda refills are available from most office suppliers for a fraction of the cost of purchasing them from this upmarket fancy French luggage supplier.

But for this dentist, the price differential of owning something fancy and exclusive and using it every day did indeed make him feel special, despite the fact that most days for him, his agenda was only ever viewed by him and nobody else in the world even knew or knew to care about the special point of difference this agenda had for this particular dentist.

But it mattered to him….

So fast forward to a day in the future…

So fast forwarding to a day in the future, and the DHL package arrives on the dentist’s doorstep.

He knows what it is… he opens the express envelope with scissors, carefully removing a pristine cardboard box.

Inside the cardboard box, which the dentist carefully opens, is a special sliding box, wrapped in a blue ribbon, along with a never used orange, small sized paper carry bag.

The dentist unties the blue ribbon, and slides open the box, revealing the agenda refill, inside its own labelled box.

And then he saw it.


The fancy French store had sent out an agenda refill for a year almost over.

You really have to wonder…

You really have to wonder if anyone was paying attention during the transactions that went on after this order was placed?

After all, the dentist placed the order on December 17 2021, and the store where he placed the order would have needed to communicate with a warehouse to locate the needed 2022 pages… and seeing that there were only fourteen days left in 2021, wouldn’t someone dealing with this transaction, and transportation, and subsequent wrapping and shipping have come to the realisation that maybe 2021 pages were not what the customer was wanting, and to double check that the product being shipped had not been gathered by mistake?

It can happen in dental…

This used to happen in dental to us regularly.

Inadvertently, laboratory prescription forms may not have been filled out correctly, and been sent off to the dental laboratory with some information not being included. [this usually involved a check box not being ticked].

Rather than a phone call to the dental practice from the laboratory to find out which box should have been ticked, the laboratory often defaulted to its “usual” or “most popularly requested” checkbox setting, which may or may not have been the checkbox that our practice would have chosen for this patient.

As a result of this, at our practice we made our own pathway procedure checklists so that nothing ever was transferred from one person to another in anything but a completed state.

We found it was better to be sure than to be sorry.

The thing is….

The thing is, it’s always better to get things right the first time.

But for those times when things do accidentally go awry, it is imperative to make sure the action of damage control is actually a  better experience for the customer than if things had actually gone right in the first place.

Sadly, this was not the case for my dentist friend.

And when he contacted the store, the store was very RIGID in its policies and methodologies regarding a SERVICE RECOVERY solution for my friend.

As he wrote to them, he said that he:

“certainly wasn’t feeling the love”

in this situation.

Customer service is all about providing a memorable experience for the customer that exemplifies the fact that doing business with your organisation is a ZERO RISK situation for the customer, and that your company will get things right , no matter what it takes.


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