Make the right call

Aug. 1, 2005
Officials often make the wrong call in sports. Sometimes the wrong call can actually change the outcome of the game.

Officials often make the wrong call in sports. Sometimes the wrong call can actually change the outcome of the game. In a recent NBA game, a three-point shot was awarded after the officials viewed replays to see if the player’s foot was on or behind the three-point line. They wanted to get the right call!

For years, I received service calls from dental offices regarding problems with equipment. Sometimes the caller was the receptionist, who knew absolutely nothing about the equipment, let alone the problems. Another common scenario was receiving a call after everyone who knew what was going on was on the way home and no one was available to answer questions. Sometimes the caller was a high school student who worked part-time. Calls went something like this:

Caller: “This is Doctor Smith’s office. We need a serviceman to fix something.”

Cheney: “What kind of equipment is giving you trouble?”

Caller: “I don’t know, just send someone over.”

Cheney: “Is it urgent? Are you broken down completely, or can it wait a day or two?”

Caller: “I guess it’s not that urgent because they’re still seeing patients.”

To do a good job, and to have all service technicians busy all the time, the dispatcher or service manager should know what is coming up. This is much like the scheduler in the dental office trying to fit everybody in. Has your scheduler ever received a call like this?

Caller: “I need to get my husband in to see the dentist.”

Scheduler: “What kind of problem is he having?”

Caller: “I don’t know, he just said to get him in to see a dentist.”

Scheduler: “Is he in pain? Does he have a toothache? A broken tooth? Does he need to get in today, or next week, or what?”

Caller: “I don’t know. He just told me to call you.”

Can you do a good job with this kind of information?

A service manager or dispatcher tries to take care of everyone, but he or she will often send a technician on a long drive to do a job that a sales representative or knowledgeable assistant could have handled. It is not uncommon for a technician to have to make two trips due to lack of prior knowledge about a problem. He may not have the correct part or tool with him, but could have come prepared had he been adequately informed. Making the right call can save you money!

A good call should sound like this:

Caller: “This is Amy at Dr. Jones’ office. We have a light with a broken reflector.”

Cheney: “Do you know the brand of the light?”

Caller: “Yes. It’s a Pelton and Crane, LF II. It is kind of urgent. How soon can you get someone here?”

Notice the caller had all the information needed to make the right call. Now the dispatcher can make the right call and send a technician with a reflector on his truck. The caller was ready with the brand and model. She knew exactly what the problem was and the urgency of the situation.

If you don’t have the information needed on each piece of equipment, it would be a good idea to compile it. This includes make, model, age, color, etc., on each item. In other words, take an inventory and put it in a notebook. Keep it updated. Your sales representative can help with this. Having this information will come in handy in many other ways, such as filing an insurance claim or in an estate settlement.

Here’s a call I’ll never forget!

Caller: “Hey, Dave, this is Monty. I have a chair with a broken armrest.”

Cheney: “Good to hear from you, Monty. What kind of chair is it?”

Caller: “Light brown.”

Now if only there had been a manufacturer named “Light” and a model named “Brown,” we would have been in business! Having the right kind of information helps your rep make the right call.

Dave Cheney is a retired service technician from Patterson Dental with more than 30 years in the dental industry. He is the author of Doctor, Did You Check the Breaker, Too?, a manual written to assist the dental staff in analyzing and performing minor equipment repairs when a technician is not warranted or not readily available. To order the manual as a book or CD, call (800) 695-0943. You may also order online through his Web site at

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