The Business Lesson of my Broken Tooth

Years ago, on a family vacation in Vermont while eating lunch; my front tooth broke in half. My three young daughters got a big laugh each time I smiled, and they saw that broken tooth. All that kept going through my mind was a painful and expensive repair to my tooth. The owner of the motel where we stayed was very kind and gave me the name of his dentist. This is where the valuable business lesson begins for me. I called this dentist office at 7am the next morning and the receptionist surprised me, she was expecting my call. She asked if I was in pain, which I was not. She offered an appointment for 7am the next morning and apologized for this inconvenience on my vacation! The next morning at 6:45 I arrived at the dental practice. I was nervous walking in and this same receptionist welcomed me with,” Good morning Mr. McEntire, my name is Joan. Please sign in and you are welcome to Danish, coffee, tea, or juice.” “No Joan,” I said. “I just brushed my teeth.” Joan held up a new toothbrush and stated I could brush again after a treat. Joan looked very busy, yet she inquired about our vacation and mentioned that Sue would be my Dental Assistant. At exactly 7am Sue came out to walk me to the dentist’s chair. She stated that Dr. Thomas would be examining me that morning. Sue commented about sights to see in the area and how she felt bad about this frustration of the broken tooth to me. She explained what would be happening with an x-ray being taken and then the dentist would be in to review my options. After the x-ray, Dr. Thomas came in, asked me if I would like to come in every day of my vacation so he could rebuild this tooth OR have a temporary repair that would last 30 days and see my regular dentist. He said he completely understood if I wanted to see my regular dentist as then it would not interfere with my vacation. He quickly started a temporary repair and within an hour and a half shook my hand, gave me an emergency number to call if I had any problems, handed me a copy of the x-rays, and wished me an uneventful rest of our vacation.

What lessons did I learn from this experience?

It was obvious to me after leaving that dentist office that this was a well-planned, and rehearsed system of great customer service.

The next day I took a bouquet of flowers to the dentist office with a list of questions to learn how this business was able to give such a WOW experience to their customers. Joan was kind enough to give me a few minutes and share that everyone at the dental clinic worked as a team, oversaw their own WOW experience with the customers. Everyone in the clinic had continuous training including the dentists, on how could they better serve the customers and make each visit a positive and excellent experience for the customer. Joan also stated everyone shared in the profits of the dental clinic, they were owners themselves in how the business succeeded.

What do you want your customer to think and feel after doing business with you?

All the people at this dentist office knew what they wanted me to think and feel after my visit. They blew me away with their exceptional customer service. The owner of the motel must have called the dentist office the evening we discussed my broken tooth. The receptionist checked the answering machine before I called that morning and made a note of my name, where I was staying and the concern of my problem.

This receptionist made me feel welcome, comfortable, and relaxed. The same was true of the dental assistant and Dr. Thomas. Everybody was friendly, pleasant, personable, thoughtful, and professional.

What is the lesson for your business?

You and your staff decide what your customer walks away with in their mind. You and your people determine the outcome of the customer’s experience. So what is your customer’s experience?

You’re fantastic! You’re just O.K. Or you’re terrible.

Start today with your people and plan to WOW your customers.

Because if you are not WOWING THEM, somebody else will!

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