Welcome honored guest — Part I

Dec. 1, 2001
You'll never have a second chance to create a great first impression. Make your one opportunity count.

by Tom Orent, DMD

You'll never have a second chance to create a great first impression. Make your one opportunity count. Entire books have written about the first moments of contact between two people. Right or wrong, for better or worse, first impressions are most often indelible. Although this may seem a disadvantage, it can be used to your advantage. Consider making every first impression a terrific lasting impression.

Consistent excellent service requires planning, training, and near flawless implementation.

Every great achievement started as somebody's dream. It begins with a thought. Think about your own achievements. Each one began as a desire. To create your team's new-patient experience, sit quietly and daydream the ultimate first few moments as your new guest enters your office.

The guest mentality
An easy way to start your creative process is to close your eyes and imagine a knock at the door to your home. You've been expecting a visit from a distant cousin, Shirley, who lives in London. You've never met, but you've spoken with her several times over the years. A while back, Shirley hosted your daughter as a part of a summer excursion abroad.

You open the door. How would you greet her? Of course you'd start with her name, and likely a big hug. Your patients? A hug might be a bit much ... but it would be nice if you were there at the door to greet/meet and welcome them by name.

When shaking hands, consider placing your left hand on top — a type of two-handed shake. It's not exactly a hug, but it is a very warm and welcoming greeting.

Introduce yourself, and say something really positive during the introduction. For example, "Mrs. Smith, I'm Mary — we spoke on the phone. It's a pleasure to meet you. We've been looking forward to having you with us today!" You have. So you might as well let her know and feel it!

Offer to take her coat and hang it up for her. Even if you didn't happen to see her walking up to your front door, at least come around the counter and greet her near the door just after she enters.

Your team would do well to model after the concierge at the Four Seasons Hotel. There is such a warm, fuzzy feeling when being catered to by such a pro. There's very little you could imagine that they wouldn't do for their guests. Have your team adopt that same attitude of "Extreme Customer Service."

What's next? If this were just any dental office, you might hand her a health history form and ask her to have a seat. But you're not running just any office, you're the concierge of a dental "spa!"

Offer her something to drink — not just one thing, offer her a selection of possibilities — some of them exotic! Here is a sampling of what we offer at my office:

  • Two varieties of white wine
  • Guarana — a soft drink from the Guarana fruit, imported from Brazil
  • Forty kinds of tea — presented in a miniature cedar chest, like at the Four Seasons — from which to choose your tea
  • Coffee: regular and decaf
  • Soft drinks: all the usual varieties
  • Juice: apple and orange
  • An array of delights to sprinkle into drinks including chocolate flakes and cinnamon

She may have traveled a distance. She must be famished. Offer her something to munch on as well. We bake fresh bread twice daily, and we bake Otis Spunkmeyer cookies all day long!

We've only touched the surface of our new-patient experience so far. In the next "Gems" column, we'll finish the process. Your new introduction for patients will have them swearing they've discovered a dental "spa!"

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 at (888) 880-4367, by fax at (508) 879-4811, by email at [email protected], or visit www.1000gems.com.

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