Why reinvent the five-star wheel?

April 1, 2002
Take it from the pros Whether you want to learn the latest advances in dentistry or improve your backhand, the most direct route is learning from the pros.

By Tom Orent, DMD

Take it from the pros Whether you want to learn the latest advances in dentistry or improve your backhand, the most direct route is learning from the pros. Even Olympic and top athletes constantly look to their coaches for ways to improve their skills.

When it comes to offering "VIP 5-star service" in dental practice, take a lesson from the pros. Several terrific organizations immediately come to mind – Nordstrom, the Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons Hotels, and Disney. These are some of the service superstars in their fields.

The vast majority of lessons we could learn from each of these role models are easily applicable to any business or service. Observation and a little imagination will go a long way toward making your office the practice people are raving about.

Take a five-star field trip

Perhaps the easiest and most enjoyable way to bring your team up to five-star speed is to let them experience it first-hand. Pick your favorite local five-star organization and go have a blast! You've heard all the "Nordstrom stories" – phenomenal, off-the-wall, knock-your-socks-off customer service.

Imagine injecting the power of Nordstrom-style care into every dental team member! It's one thing to tell your team all about the way legendary service organizations create their mystique; it's quite another to instill similar passion in your staff. Just like taking lessons from a top tennis pro, our personal expectations and vision are indelibly altered after having a chance to "get out on the court" with a pro.

Many years ago, the closest Nordstrom to my office was in Paramus, N. J. – more than a four-hour drive. My team and I arose early and piled into a rented van. We drove a nine-hour round trip that day – just for a chance to "get out on the court" with the pros!

The assignment

In the van, I surprised each team member with a crisp, new $100 bill, and told them the rules. They were to spend the entire $100 on themselves, at Nordstrom, before noon. Then, we'd all meet at Nordstrom Caf

Take-home lessons

We shared stories – enough to fill a notebook – and then some. Here's one of my favorites:

My associate, Eric, was looking for a new pair of shoes. A salesman approached us and asked if he could be of assistance. Eric had but a single question. The salesman's response was a single word. Though a very brief conversation, it spoke volumes about the legendary Nordstrom.

Eric asked, "Sir, what's your return policy?"

The salesman replied a resounding, "Yes!"

No conditions, no mention of a receipt or time restriction; in fact, no mention of anything at all. Simply, "Yes!"

I smiled as it reminded me of the Nordstrom legend about the woman who wanted to return a set of obviously heavily used snow tires. She apparently didn't feel they had lasted quite as long as she had hoped. She brought them in and requested her money back. As you might expect, she was given a prompt and courteous full refund.

But, the incredible part of the story isn't that Nordstrom gave the woman her money back for well-worn snow tires. The wonderful thing – and what legends are made of – is that Nordstrom has never carried any type of tires!

Your team will love their five-star adventure. Your imagination is the limit. Treat them to the level of service you'd like them to consistently deliver. After all, why reinvent the wheel?

Dr. Tom Orent, the GEMS GUY, is a management consultant and practicing dentist. He is a founding member and past president of the New England Chapter of the AACD. He has presented his "1,000 Gems SeminarsTM" in four countries and at state and national meetings in 46 states. He has lectured at numerous dental schools and is the author of four books and numerous articles on aesthetic dentistry, practice management, TMJ, and "Extreme Customer Service." Dr. Orent may be reached by phone at (888) 880-4367, by fax at (508) 879-4811, by email at [email protected], or visit www.1000gems.com.

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