Deliver ‘WOW’!

When we were asked to write about our experiences of our Core Values, I immediately was hoping that Jas would be thinking/writing about the importance of ‘Embracing Change’, because then one day, maybe he will let me change his radio station….
I initially thought that I could write about ‘Spreading laughter’. In the short time being at High Street Dental practice I’ve spent many days in fits of giggles. I’ve witnessed Maggie sit on a non-existent chair at Reception, and grip onto the desk for dear life. I’ve witnessed Penny fall flat on her face running up the stairs with a box of instruments, and then try to pretend nothing had happened. I’ve referred to a tooth surface as a part of the female anatomy by mistake, and I’ve been involved in some of the craziest, funniest stories/conversations I have ever heard. All of the above has had me in stitches, and all because of being with a team that has a brilliant sense of humour!
I have however settled on writing a piece on the ‘Wow Factor’, and the reasons why I believe The High Street Dental Practice has it.
I thought ‘Wow’ when I very first went to the Practice to enquire about the Dental Nurse position I had seen advertised. The first thing that struck me was how friendly and cheerful the receptionist (Iva) was, and what a nice feel the Practice had to it- not the usual overly-formal, clinical, scary environment I usually associate with Dental Practices!
At my interview, I was immediately put at ease by Lisa and Maggie- they were absolutely bonkers and absolutely lovely! I learnt a bit about the practice and the team, and I couldn’t have been more impressed. The fact that the majority of the team had been at the Practice for years and years (some before I was born!) I thought could only be a good thing. I was delighted to be called back for a second interview- at a bar!!! Wow!! WITH WINE!! DOUBLE WOW!!!
Since working at The High Street Dental Practice there has not been a week gone by where I haven’t thought ‘Wow’ at some point. Just today I learnt that some of our patients not only have been with us for years and years, but they travel from as far away Kent, Cornwall and even France to get to us! That’s pretty special! It’s also lovely to see the rapport that the practice has with its patients-many come in and chat with us like they would with their closest friends, and even the most nervous of patients come out either smiling or laughing!
It also amazes me the amount of charity work that the practice gets involved in, for example, The Children from Chernobyl as seen in the local newspaper, and Jas’s Annual trips to help the children of Morocco. Not to mention all the personal fundraising that goes on outside of the Practice by, for example, Jules (Tough Mudder) and Eva, who plans to climb Kilimanjaro for the Young Epilepsy Charity next year. Wow.
I have been overwhelmed with the amount of support I have had from every single person in the team since starting in August. Always willing to teach, help and all went the extra mile in making me feel welcome.
Overall….that’s a lot of Wow-age!! And I’m pretty proud that I work for The High Street Dental Practice, that delivers this so well. Dani.

Spreading Smiles

Earlier today, Paige, my number one child came up to me and asked “Dad, can we talk?”
Putting my book down, I asked how much this talk would cost me.
“It’s not about money”. She replied. And then she smiled.

Did you know that children smile on average about 400 times a day? I didn’t. And did you know that adults only smile about twenty times a day? I didn’t know that either but I do know that they don’t all work for me.

By the way, I’m not talking about a fake smile. The one that just involves the lips. I’m talking about the one which includes our eyes and raising our cheeks. The real smiles. People can tell the difference.

Paige’s was the real type. Lips, cheeks, eyes. Everything. She told me she has a new boyfriend. His name is Sven, he’s German and he’s asked her to visit him in Berlin. So Paige, still smiling and her head leaning ever so slightly to one side, was asking my permission for her to go.

In his Ted talk “The Hidden Power of Smiling,” Ron Gutman talks about the positive effects of smiling. Reducing the number of stress-related hormones like adrenalin and cortisol. Reducing blood pressure. And increasing the number of hormones that improve our moods.

Apparently, one really good smile can give us a feel-good factor equivalent to 2,000 chocolate bars! Substitute your own favourites here: Running, especially at the practice, for Jules, dancing for Debbie, anything sweet for Iva, and alcohol for Lisa. Sausage rolls for Nikoletta, sex for Maggie, and more alcohol for Lisa. Debbie’s cakes for everyone -I’ve heard that they’re delicious but I’ve never been quick enough to get any- and diet coke for Alex. Answering emails for Penny, public speaking for Andrea, cheesecake for Sue and any food for Amy. Wearing spotty undies for Kate, more sex for Maggie, camping for Dani and HTM0105 for me.

“So, what does this German boyfriend of yours look like?” I asked. But only after I’d asked the usual dad-type security questions.
“He’s blonde with blue eyes.”
“It’s gonna be interesting when he meets me then.” I half joked.
She laughed. “No, he’s not like that.”

In Richard Wiseman’s book ‘Quirkology’, researchers looked at photographs of women in a college yearbook when they were in their early twenties. Nearly all were smiling. But when they looked carefully, they noticed that about half of the photographs showed a false smile and half a genuine smile. They discovered something. Those with the real smiles were much more likely to be married, to stay married, to be happier, and to enjoy better health throughout their lives.

According to social anthropologists, smiling makes us appear less dominant and more approachable.

You get the idea. Basically, a genuine smile is pretty good for us. So why don’t we (notice I put we) do it more often?

Back to today. Anyway, I agreed to Paige visiting Sven. I know that Denise would have already said yes. So I know that I had to say yes. But I played my part well. It’s a game and it makes me feel important. And any of you girls with children probably do the same with your other halves.

“Oh, thanks dad.” She said. Cue even bigger smile.

My work was done. As head of the family, I had performed my role. And that is to pretend to be head of the family.

My point here is that smiling can be used as an act of persuasion. For someone to like us, trust us, have faith in us and even to get permission to go to Germany to stay with some random person that I’ve never met.

But it has to be a genuine smile!

Smiling is contagious. As an expert on HTM0105 I know that it’s not yet been banned.

I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to underusing it. But I promise to start from tomorrow. Just forgive me if I look silly.

Will you join me?

“Every smile makes you a day younger”
Chinese Proverb


Delivering WOW!

Many, many years ago, when the Earth was flat and I was an associate, I remember hearing the following adage:
‘If you upset one customer, they’ll tell 10 people. And if you please one customer, they’ll tell 2 people’.

In other words, people are far more likely to talk about you if you upset rather than please them.

As a newly qualified dentist, the last thing I wanted was bad press. So I used to treat my patients with the simple mindset of not upsetting them. It was my compass and it worked.

These days of social media, one unhappy customer could easily spread their message to many, many hundreds. So, keeping this mindset would seem to be the best thing to do wouldn’t it?

The answer is yes. That is, so long as we’re happy staying below the radar. Not really being noticed and not really being talked about.

In other words, the safety of anonymity.

But, just a few years ago, I learnt a really valuable lesson:

There is no safety in anonymity.

In this ever more competitive market place, we do need to be noticed. And we do need to be talked about. For the right reasons, obviously! In the words of Seth Godin, we need to be remarkable. We should aim to be the Purple Cow (also Seth Godin). The one that stands out.

If we’re proud of WHAT we do and HOW we do it: and I know you all are. And if we really do believe in our WHY, then we should stand out in peoples’ radars.

A bright red flashing dot! A Purple Cow!

And how do we do this?

By Delivering WOW.

Firstly, what is WOW? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it means ‘To impress and excite greatly’. That’ll do for me.

I feel it every time I walk into an Apple store. It happens every time I watch Roger Federer. Win or…….come second. For certain companies and individuals, it’s part of their brand.

And I’d like it to be part of ours too.

So how do we deliver WOW? The simple answer is to do something above and beyond a person’s expectations. I’m not talking about ‘under-promising and over-delivering’. That’s just dishonest, in my opinion. I’m talking about ‘Promising and Over-Delivering’.

I can think of lots of lots of examples where you all do this already. Promising pain-free dentistry for one. During as well as after. Phoning our members after they’ve had major treatment is another. Gifts. Discounts. Charitable donations. Charitable activities like Debbie’s triathlon, Jules’s Tough Mudder (nutter), Iva’s forthcoming Kilimanjaro. And lots more.

But I confess that I don’t have all the answers. Sometimes I don’t have any. You all know that. But together, we do.

So I’d be really grateful if you could help me by replying with any suggestions of your own so that we can start putting them into practice. Regularly.

Let’s not be anonymous. Let’s not stay below the radar.

Let’s Deliver WOW.

Excellent Customer Service

Why do you come to work?

Obviously, the money. But why else, and why here? And, for that matter, why do you call it work?

Put all of our core values, and our WHY together. Stick them in a bag and give them a shake. And pour them out. What do you see?

If it’s a jumbled up mass of words, maybe you’re not seeing for looking.

Me, I see work as a place to play. I see what I do not as dentistry, but as art. I see our practice as a playground. One in which our patients become members. Because they can have fun, share smiles, spread laughter. I see our role as not to treat people, but to care for them, get to know them. Who they really are. Their likes and dislikes.

And I see us not as a team, but as a ‘Tribe.’

Tribes, according to Seth Godin, are those groups of people who are playing a part, forming a movement, going somewhere with purpose and a desire to create change.

Last week, I was accused of being an ostrich by a duty nurse at A&E. To be fair, she did have a point. More often though, I’m accused of having my head in the clouds. But, I actually think my head’s above the clouds. Because this is where I can choose to see exactly what I want. In any direction and where nothing clouds my vision.

In other words, I see HAPPINESS.

That’s important to me because I spend the majority of my waking day at our practice. With you. So, if we become a tribe, with common goals, with common values that we ALL believe in, we will be happier.

And if we are happier, our members will be as well.

This could be us…

Now, I’d like to remind you why I share an email a month relating to one of our core values.

A young Benjamin Franklin sought moral perfection. So, he developed a list of thirteen virtues he wanted to follow. But he learned that he couldn’t change them all at once. So he developed a system by using a chart. The days of the week were listed at the top and the virtues listed in the in the first column. Then he tracked his progress daily. Each week, he focused on one virtue. And, after thirteen weeks, he’d covered them all. He continued this for the rest of his life.

If it’s good enough for Ben, it’s good enough for us.

This month’s core value is ‘Excellent Customer Service.’

It goes without saying that this means being courteous and polite. Not just delivering on our promises but exceeding them. On that note, our recent survey revealed that 95% of our members felt no pain and 5% felt slight pain. I know we can do better. Let’s make that our number one priority.

But there’s more to excellent customer service. Much more!

As I’ve said before, put yourselves in our members’ shoes. What do you want above all from a business?

For me, it’s recognition. I want to be listened to, not just heard. Our members, our prospects, our social media followers are all looking to be recognised. When we listen, we’re showing an interest. And there is no greater compliment than giving someone your un-divided attention. It allows you to get an insight into their personality, their needs and their wants. Then, and only then can you better serve them.

Remember, being a good listener is the most important part of being a good communicator.

I posted this on our facebook page a few months ago. It’s called the ‘Connect With Anyone Creed.’ We should use this as our compass.

Now, just for a change, here’s a story about a little-known tech company by the name of Apple.

Back in the year 2000, Apple was a company dwindling. Michael Dell, of Dell Computers fame, was asked what he’d do. He said I’d give the cash back to the shareholders and close the business down.

But Apple invested during that downturn. That’s when they started to build its chain of stores.

Every Genius Bar employee was given a training manual staff and had to pass a 14 day training course. Not just about technical tips and tricks but also how to empathise with customers.

Apple doesn’t want high-pressure sellers behind the bar – quite the opposite. The manual reinforces a constant message that staff must be empathetic to a customer’s needs.

If you visit the Genius Bar at an Apple Store you’ll discover the real job of the Genius. And it’s not to fix things. The first job of the Genius is to acknowledge your problem and to change how you feel. Apple Geniuses get twice as much training in changing how the customer feels as they do in solving tech problems. The only thing that the Genius has to do is make people walk out feeling better than when they walked in.

And if we do the same, it’s also a kind of genius.

The Apple training manual focusses on an acronym – APPLE.

Approach customers with a personalised warm welcome.
Probe to understand the problem.
Present a solution.
Listen for issues, and
End with an invitation to return.

Apple takes ‘Excellent Customer Service’ to a new high. It improves customer relationships, it can transform a disappointed customer with the potential to become a negative voice in the marketplace into a fan. It creates a tribal following.

That’s where we should be aiming.

Headaches, Migraine and our Teeth

Everyone clenches their teeth to some degree, even denture wearers. Some of us just clench, and some grind. In its severest form, this tooth-grinding is called Bruxism.
Bruxists will generally show classic signs in their mouths such as worn or broken teeth, or ridges along the sides of the tongue and cheeks. And a typical symptom is constant headaches or migraines.
The cause of the headaches is linked to the muscles of our jaws. As we grind, these muscles place extra strain on the Trigeminal nerve. And, as it compresses, it sends signals to the brain which can result in mild to severe headaches.
It’s very important to realise that tooth-grinding is only one possible cause of headaches and migraines. Our role, as dentists, is to help determine when that may be the case. In a lot of occasions, we’ll try and work closely with your doctor to find out any other possible causes.
When we can confirm a link between tooth-grinding and headaches, our goal is to limit the amount of strain placed on the Trigeminal nerve. And we do this by trying to reduce the intensity of the grinding.
One of the most common ways in which we do this is by providing bite guards. These hard plastic guards are made to fit over the teeth and they help to spread the forces when we clench. They also help to protect any teeth which may have become weakened through wear.
But, in some cases, if the grinding is severe, a conventional bite guard may not be enough to reduce or relieve the symptoms of headaches. Instead, a very simple and non-invasive technique is to add small tooth-coloured fillings to some of the teeth closer to the front of the mouth. We can’t clench as hard with our front teeth. Try it yourself by biting on a pencil. First with your back teeth and then with your front teeth. Notice the difference? So, when we can’t close with the same force, this reduces the pressure on the Trigeminal nerve and helps to relieve the headaches.
If you suffer from the above, please speak to your dentist about how they can help you.