June 29, 2010

A Dentist Shows How To Raise Client Expectations

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Here's an easy way to get and keep clients: deliver more. They'll notice and expect the same elsewhere. When they don't get it, they'll be disappointed. They're more likely to stay with you, return to you and recommend you.

There's a problem: your competition can copy you. So you need to stay one step ahead. That's not so bad. Constant innovation keeps life interesting. Wouldn't you rather make improvements voluntarily and on your own schedule?

Let's look at a case study from a tough business: dentistry.

The New Dentist

I had a dentist in a high profile location in downtown Toronto for over 10 years. The basic cleaning was fine but nothing improved. For instance, X-ray machines probably give better results with less radiation yet the machine was never upgraded.

Staff turnover was high. The hygienist who did most of the work would change every 1-3 visits. Several times, none of the three dentists even checked the cleaning. Clients are such a bother. And no, the prices weren't reduced to match the services actually provided.

My wife and son switched to a dentist closer to home. They now enjoy going. They like the refreshments (none at mine). They come home with bags laden with goodies like hand cream, nail files, toothpaste and dental chewing gum. You'd think they went trick-or-treating at a dental convention. Mine only gave a toothbrush and floss --- no bag. Mine only started electronic claims submission a couple of years ago. There's still no website or email reservation confirmations. I was never given pricing for treatment in advance.

I switched too. What a difference! Beautiful facilities, friendly staff and an inviting atmosphere.

New Expectations

Here's how this new dental office raised expectations. During your first visit, you get a tour, answer basic dental questions, have a photo taken of your smile and get a free preliminary examination by the chief dentist. This process takes about 30 minutes.

Next time you get a detailed examination using modern technology. This process takes 90 minutes. You're asked about your personality type and tolerance to pain. An Expressive person reacts differently than an Analytic like me. Photos are taken of the outside and inside your mouth. Your teeth get a panoramic digital X-ray with half the normal radiation (but lower resolution). The results show instantly and you get to see them.

For the first time ever, I got an explanation of dental jargon like "occlusal" and "4-2". I instantly forgot but now know when measurements are good/bad. The explanation only took a couple of minutes but no one ever bothered before.

I've brushed for decades and flossed for years but learned new techniques. For example, I was told to hold my electric toothbrush lightly with my fingers rather than firmly like a screwdriver. How did they know what I did and why didn't anyone tell me before?

The Wow

Here's the unexpected surprise: a mini video camera was placed in my mouth. For the first time, I could see the work done in the past. Now I know how a filling between two teeth looks and where additional work is needed.

For the first time, I understand my dental care. The next step is carpentry (minor repairs) and then gardening (regular cleaning)


This dental office now has an ongoing stream of revenue from three new clients. Maybe other dentists offer similar enhanced services. So what? They'd have to offer much more to encourage us to switch. We're betting our dentist will upgrade too.

Isn't that the way you want your clients to feel?

I don't even know how much this dentist charges. I'm guessing rates are competitive.

Back To You

You may have had wonderful experiences that raised your expectations forever. Perhaps at a hotel, restaurant, airline, car dealership, post office, bank or investment firm. Or maybe elsewhere.

Do you know how your clients feel about what you offer? What would they like to experience? What do your competitors do?

There's a shortcut if you have high standards: ask yourself what you'd like to experience. Next, work toward that goal over time. For now, can you create an experience your clients will see as superior than your competition? That's a great start to becoming remarkable.



  1. Love your post Promod!

    You really captured some of the magic we're trying to create for our guests. We love taking care of discerning people who appreciate the difference in care.

    Dr. Joe :)

  2. Thanks for your comment ... and care :)