One way or another, we are all in the business of customer service. I have my customers. Teachers have their pupils, their pupils' parents and the wider community. Retailers have shoppers, doctors have patients.
Sadly, we sometimes forget the relationship between customer and provider. Certainly I often wonder whether National Health Service providers ever perceive their patients as customers! I have more than once been given cause to think that they view us only as life-support systems for a pathology.
Then, every now and again, you meet someone who bucks the trend and restores the balance. Today I met a new dentist. I would like to make his level of customer service my goal in my dealings with future customers.
A couple of years ago, I broke a tooth. I went to the dentist who told me it would have to be crowned, which would cost me the little matter of £500. Until today, I hadn't been back to the dentist, in spite of being quite particular about my teeth. In spite of a history of 6 monthly visits. I just knew that £500 was hanging over my head like the sword of Damocles and I didn't have it. So the tooth remained broken.
Since we moved house, we have had to attend the things like new doctors (TBC), dentists, hairdressers, service stations.... all that malarkey.
The dentist I saw today took a complete history and checked out my teeth and gums thoroughly. He commended me for my oral hygiene (the secret is TePe brushes, folks, I can't emphasise that enough) and assured me that the broken tooth could be filled for the comparitively bargain basement price of £80. He agreed that crowning was an option but that, if and when I decided to go that route, it would cost £285 because he would make the crown himself with computer-imaging technology. He talked me through the short, medium and long term goals for my teeth and made sure that I was comfortable with all the options available. We made appointments for two fillings (another filling has gotten chipped in the time since my last visit to the dentist) and told me that he would include a free clean in the price.
I know what I'm getting
I know when I'm getting it
I know how much it is going to cost
I know what my options are in the short, medium and long term
I understand everything that is going to happen
My budget has been taken into consideration
My own personal circumstances have been catered to (I can't have local anaesthetic which contains adrenalin or I vibrate like a guitar string - not conducive to precision work!)
Sadly, he's not with the NHS, but at least he will treat my kids free.
Service with a smile... just what you expect from a dentist!