Service with a Smile

Written by on January 30, 2015 in Practice tips - No comments

What a beautiful sunny day it was and what a smooth enjoyable flight it had been. Around midnight in my hotel room, I was putting the finishing touches on my presentation entitled ”The Importance of a Smile” for the next day’s conference. I had based my talk on personal experiences and a career in healthcare (35 + years) along with practice assessments and my experiences as an “Undercover Patient.”  Let’s just say I’m an expert, I know a smile when I see one!  In fact, one practice calls me “The Queen of Smiles”, which I take as a compliment. I know how it feels to receive a smile and to share one.  And the best part is they’re free!

I have a habit of reviewing and revising almost every presentation based upon those last minute vibes. I was to arrive at 8 am the following morning, check in, meet the committee members involved with the conference and return to speak for an afternoon session. Once those finishing touches were applied, it was time for a warm shower and my warm pajamas.   While brushing my teeth, I noticed something unusual. My first thought was “POPCORN?!? When did I have POPCORN?”  I looked into the mirror and confirmed that my left lateral incisor “had left the building” and so I cried myself to sleep.

The next morning I tried sticking gum in that space, but that didn’t work. So I practiced smiling in the mirror without showing any of my teeth. If I was very careful introducing myself, shaking hands on the other side (the side that no one could see the gap) it might just work. I met the committee, checked in for the conference and I was all set.

Smiling-DentistWEBBack in my room, I was able to make some calls.  I called my local dentist to see if he would know anyone close by, but he didn’t. I asked the hotel concierge and fortunately he knew a local and reputable dentist. I nervously made the call which was answered by a beautiful smile. She listened and did not rush me as I babbled with anxiousness and fear. I explained the details and she asked me how long it would take to get there. I had no idea of the distance, I told her where I was and she said they would wait on me to get there.  The “limo” (thanks again to the concierge) arrived and I was on my way.  I didn’t want talk to the limo driver, but I didn’t want him to think I was “stuck up”. So I held my hand over my mouth and explained.  He was very understanding and made me smile, in spite of my awareness.

When he pulled into the parking lot, there were no cars!  I was a bit concerned over that. He was able to pull right up to the door and I felt like a movie star, I just didn’t look like one!  I walked into the office and a beautiful young lady with a smile greeted me saying, “Great, you made it!  We’ve been looking forward to meeting you!”  I smiled, mouth closed and hand over my mouth.  I had tears all over again.

This was a Friday morning and little did I know that their office is closed on Fridays. However they were there to meet their contractor who is building their new home.  He had already left but the husband/wife dental team waited for me.

I was taken immediately to the dental chair. “OK, let’s see what’s going on here” the dentist said. I watched closely for his reaction as I opened my mouth and he acted as if it were nothing, putting my mind at ease.  ”Don’t you worry, this isn’t a problem. I’ll have you looking like Hollywood when you leave” he said. I felt such comfort, because I knew I was in the right place. He was kind, very patient with me, told me exactly what he could do and said he would get me “up and running my mouth in no time”.

As the work began, I couldn’t help but reflect upon the importance of a smile, a real smile. The smiling concierge who offered compassion and assistance, while detecting my urgency.  The smile from the limo driver who offered humor to relieve my stress.  The smile from the dentist and his wife who greeted me with assurance they could “fix me”. Their smiles were genuine even after waiting on me to arrive.

The dentist was as good as his word, restoring my smile, and had me back to the conference on time. I was able to speak at the conference, pronouncing my words perfectly, well, as perfect as a Southern girl could pronounce them. The title “The Importance of a Smile” had even more significance than ever!   On that day and every day, I am reminded of “the smile”.  It costs nothing to give away yet the rewards are innumerable!

I knew that I was in a caring place with caring people from the first moment I entered that dental office.  There was never a need for anyone to apologize for anything.  Both the dentist and his dental assistant had been alert, attentive, professional and caring beyond measure.

In my profession, I address the good, the bad and the “oh my goodness!” as an “Undercover Patient”, however this time it was for real.   I was not an “Undercover Patient”, I was a real patient.

What I did not hear, see or miss was:

  • Personal conversations
  • A complaining staff
  • Lack of accountability

What I did hear, see, appreciate and will always remember:

  • Concerned and caring professionals
  • A clean and inviting environment
  • 100% Accountability

These are qualities that cost you nothing. These are provided free to your patients and will be appreciated and remembered, bringing you more return business to your dental practice and also bringing you new patients by word-of-mouth.

By Denise Price Thomas

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