Five Costly Mistakes That Restaurants Keep On Making…. and How These Relate Back To Your Dental Office

Sometimes there are times that I wish that I had never been bitten by the bug.

The Customer Service Bug.

Or more precisely, the *World Class* Customer Service Bug.

Because it’s tough.

It’s tough looking out at the world through tainted eyes.

Through eyes, that are so expectant of receiving World Class Customer Service.

From everyone!

From everybody!


And sadly, truth be known, it doesn’t always happen.

Sadly, it rarely happens.

There are places that you go that you would expect to be WOWED!! with knock-your-socks-off World Class Service.

And there are other places that you don’t expect great service.

And isn’t it nice, isn’t it a surprise in itself, when you receive an act of World Class Service when and where you might least expect it?

We all know those surprise times when an attendant, or a shop assistant goes above and beyond in an effort to WOW us?

And how good do we feel in these surprised moments?

You know it!

The feeling is worth bottling!

But sadly, that feeling of WOW is becoming less and less frequent…

On the flip side, what is worse, is the feeling of disappointment we get when we are let down with inferior service in an environment where above average service is expected.

Like fine dining.

And last night, while here in Dallas, I fine dined.

And was severely disappointed.

Now it wasn’t that the service was bad.

It was just….wrong!

So wrong!

And it was so wrong that it was obvious that instruction came from above, and though probably well intended. But they were delivered in a manner that indicted lack of attention to review, and feedback and accountability.

And with this lack of feedback, or non-existence of a feedback loop, came customer disappointment.

Sometimes I wonder whether with this eye for detail and detailed analysis, whether I should be advising the Restaurant Industry rather than the Dental Profession.

Because it seems that in every second month, I’m writing about Service Defects I see or experience during recent Culinary Expeditions.

And today is just another one of those days…

So what went wrong?

You wouldn’t think that in a quiet less than half filled restaurant that one person dining alone could feel such disappointment?

Especially when the restaurant had adequate floor staffing.

Well, I did. And here’s what went wrong.

And what went wrong, to me may not have been done on purpose, but it was done without thought.

And that’s not good.

For anyone.

My meal involved only four choices. A pre-dinner drink [US readers please read cocktail for this] and a glass of wine. A starter, and a main meal.

That’s all.

Yet they were brought in such quick succession that the savouring and enjoyment that I was meant to experience was totally lost.

For instance, my starter, a plate of eight small pieces of sashimi arrived before my cocktail was even half consumed.

As did my glass of red wine.

And my main meal was brought to the table while I was still eating my sashimi.


All in the space of no longer than twenty five minutes.

So here’s my take on this….

Point One: It’s Ok to be efficient, its OK to be prompt, but not to the point of ridiculous that the client’s comfort and well-being are turned base over apex.

The pace of service should have matched my persona.

Instead, the pace of service was chosen for me. And whether that’s how they do things in Dallas on a Sunday night,

, if I’m paying, then I’d like to have some contribution to the pace of play.

Dental Application:

How’s your pace of play in your dental office?

Are your patients being rushed through various crucial stages of your Customer Experience?

Too often than not I see the chair return to upright after the doc has finished drilling and the Dental assistant has their back to the patient hastily putting stuff away in preference to being there with a warm towel and a cup of clean water for the patient to rinse.

Or the doc is off away with his head buried into the PC rather than being there with the patient’s own spectacle glasses as they return to regular vertical orientation.

Same thing can happen at the front desk, if systems and protocols are not set up from the get go. Patients can often feel rushed through that whole process, and pushed out the front door a few hundred lighter and not really much visibly to see for their time and money.

While taking our time at the checkout can be time consuming, it pays dividends in spades because it becomes an *experience* where the patient also makes an appointment and gives us money, rather than a *process* that interrupts our front office person’s day.

Remember, the same end result is arrived at in both scenarios above; it’s just that one of those ways is far more comfortable and friendly toward our customer than is the other.

Point Two:

The seater had left me with a menu folder and the wine iPad. When the server, David, brought my cocktail back, he rattled off a few specials, and at the same time, while speaking, reached over for the iPad, which I had laid to the side. And while reciting the specials, he proceeded to tap the iPad back to home, and away from the selection that I had been ready to order.

Without even asking!

Dental Application:

 How many times do we bring the patient in to the treatment room and seat them, and bib them up and tip them back in one fell swoop of a process, without due consideration that there’s a person on the other end?

This sort of beginning routinely happens in dental offices that work a one-doctor-one-treatment-room policy with quick tear down and set up times.

It rarely happens in offices where the doc works alternate chairs and treatment rooms.

Point Three: During my meal, on two occasions, the carpet sweeper came out and the floor was done over while I was eating.


Also, while I was eating, the table beside me was vacated and cleared.

And reset.

With the new placemats being wiped and cleaned as they were being set. Right there beside me.

While I ate.

Dental Application:

Negative buying signalsshould never be conveyed purposefully or accidentally around the patient.

Banging of cupboards and drawers, clicking off of handpieces, noise of mops, brooms and vacuum cleaners should be left until the patients have departed from the treatment areas.

These noises are distracting and insulting, and lower the level of the ambience that we are trying to create.

You’d never experience these negative signals at a luxury spa? Then why should you subject your valued dental clients to those same negative signals?

Point Four and Point Five: Chain of asepsis, and proof.

I’ve banded these two together because their brief points.

When my sashimi plate was brought to the table, David was required to rearrange the other things on the table to allow room for the main plate.

Sad to say, but in so doing, he handled my cocktail drinking glass with a claw action, placing his fingers where my lips had been and were going again.

He should have held the glass from around the base.

End of story.

I don’t know where the glass has been or who’s been handling it before it reaches my table, but once it’s there, I own the rim and I don’t want that barrier of ownership broken.

With regard to proof, I did order a nice drop of red wine, by the glass.

However, the red that came to my table was delivered in a small unmarked carafe which was then poured quickly into my glass, and frankly, could have been anything?

Again, all done while I was consuming my sashimi.

There was no theatre.

Dental applications:

 Firstly, don’t handle the tops of the cups and vessels that your patients and customers drink from, both in the treatment room and also in the client lounge.

Secondly, look for moments of theatre.

Announce your actions.

Announce your hot towels.

Announce your points of difference.

Look for as many points of differentiation that your dental office has compared to your neighbours’ and highlight those points of difference.

With fanfare!

In dentistry, your clients and patients are not expecting a WOW experience.

When you can provide them with World Class Service, that is consistent, these clients and patients will become and remain loyal advocates for your dental services.

You will create a following of Raving Fans!


The Fundamental Principles of delivering consistent World Class Customer Service is something you will learn about in The Ultimate Patient Experience, 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.

Email me at

Did you like this blog article? If you did then hit the share buttons below and share it with your friends and colleagues. Share it via email, Facebook and twitter!!