I’d like to think I’m a pretty good dentist. I’ve developed my skills with practice and a constant drive to learn. I’ve hired and retained an office team that really goes the extra mile for patients. But above all, my goal has been to be reasonable person with an equally reasonable team. I think patients like dealing with an office full of reasonable people.
What do I mean by this? Well, if I put a filling in last year and a piece of it breaks off…I’m going to fix it for you and not charge you for it.
Could we charge for a new filling? Sure. Probably some would. Frankly, if a filling of mine comes out in a year, I can’t help but think that something went wrong with the placement of it. In most mouths, a filling should last awhile. How long? Well, that’s a complicated question. But let’s just say a year is usually too short of a lifespan for a filling.
Another example of reasonable. It’s the holidays and you’ve got a day off. This is your one day to knock out all the Christmas shopping. You remembered that you had an appointment with us when you woke up, but time just slipped away from you. You check your cell phone and realize that your appointment was an hour and a half ago and you completely missed it. You call in a panic and Kathy teases you and sets up a new appointment. Can we charge you a late fee? Absolutely. Will we? Probably not. Why not? Because we’re reasonable.
Being reasonable is one of the things that makes me enjoy being human. Sometimes all it takes to make someone’s day better is being a little flexible about expectations. Everyone has a occasional bad day. Sincere apologies are worth their weight in gold.
Of course this totally goes both ways. I like to brag about how my office runs on time. Often we run ahead of time. I only see one patient at a time, so the time that we reserve is actually reserved especially for you. Every once in awhile…I get behind. Usually it’s a procedure that went much longer than I expected or a dental emergency that just couldn’t wait. Every time this happens, it throws me off my game. I hate being behind. I almost always walk out into the waiting room to apologize and let the patient know what’s happening. I can’t remember a time when the patient gave me a hard time. It’s because most people are reasonable.
Very occasionally we run into patients who aren’t kind and understanding. In fact, they’re just unreasonable. I have quite a few stories of patients who’s expectations were unrealistic and they were happy to tell me about how I had failed them.
I’m not going to tell you those stories, though. Why? Because I’m a reasonable person and it doesn’t help to dwell on them.
Instead, I’m just going to ask myself a question. When I’m in a situation where I’m unhappy with the service I’m receiving…am I being reasonable?