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.

Nervous patient “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”

This is to all you phobic people out there….I was the worst case of being phobic at the dentist, not only the dentist but also of needles! It used to take me over a year to pluck the courage up to even book an appointment just for a check up and even at the check up I’d pass out, if any work needed to be done it had to be through sedation, that’s the only way anyone could get near to me! My last trip to the dentist I had the maximum IV sedation and even with this I was unconsciously fidgeting too much for them to deal with me, I managed the 1 filling but needed more work done, they refused to have me back…..I’m sure a lot of you can relate to this? That horrible sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, the feeling of being totally out of control, the invasion of someone intruding in your mouth, the fear of feeling any pain, the hot sweats of sheer panic!
I would of given anything to be brave enough to attend the dentist and have work done like most people…..well, good news, after 40 years of phobia, that has now been possible due to joining the High Street Dentist at East Grinstead. I went along for a check up (only the mirror is allowed anywhere near my mouth) with a lovely patient Dentist Nicoletta, and her equally friendly assistant. There was no rush and everything was talked through. Nicoletta has been the first dentist ever that has asked exactly what scares me and has worked with me to overcome this.
I needed 1 filling done, just hearing that felt like the whole world was closing in on me again…..I downloaded Paul McKenna hypnotherapy CD to overcome Dentist Phobia and listened to this regularly but not convinced it was working, I went to the doctor to get some Valium, I loaded my MP3 player with lots of songs and even put an ice pack in the freezer ready (that hot wave that flows over you is not nice is it?)….the day arrived, a bit quicker than I wanted!
Firstly it was an afternoon appointment and Nicoletta booked me a longer slot than was needed so it wouldn’t be rushed. The normal sinking feeling wasn’t there all morning but when I was walking towards the dentist I realised the Valium just wasn’t working and I can honestly say I had every intention of coming home without the treatment being done!
Nicoletta called me in, and although I told her I wasn’t ready, she was very friendly and just said we’d chat only and there was no pressure, she made sure all equipment was out of sight before I went in.
We agreed between us that we would do it in small bite size pieces, the first piece was the numbing, being scared of needles this was a big deal! Nicoletta had a very calming influence over me and eventually I trusted her enough to let her do this, afterwards I didn’t know what all the fuss was about, I was so pleased with myself that I’d got this done but where I’d got so scared, the reaction of it was that I come over very feint. This wore off after 5 mins and I was back to being calm again. Next step the drill….well when I say it felt like she was tickling the tooth, it’s no lie…..she done it for 2 seconds only so I knew what to expect, after that I blasted my music out and let her carry on, all the time her assistant was holding my hand all the way through, before I knew it, it was done and finished. It now feels like a great weight has been lifted and I feel invincible!!!!!! The whole time I was in there seemed to fly past but in fact I was in there 1 hour, the treatment was probably 10 mins or so, this is how patient and understanding the staff at this dentist are. I trust Nicoletta completely with my teeth now and know that there really isn’t any pain at all, obviously I’m still going to be nervous, you can’t wipe out a phobia overnight but I now feel in control so if any of you can relate to this phobia, get a hypnotherapy CD and book in at the High Street dentist, afterwards you’ll look back and ask yourself “why didn’t I do this sooner”

Debbie from East Grinstead

£10,000 Gift Of a Smile Winners Story

I was asked to record a short message about my experience of being the lucky winner of the High Street Practice – Gift of a Smile competition, which seemed easy enough but it was such a short window and I had so much to say. So I thought I would put into words my experience.
I remember reading the paper and seeing the competition and thinking, wow, what a fantastic prize I would love that. I know everyone dreams of winning a lovely holiday or a shiny new car but a smile, now that was different and something I would dearly love, but didn’t do anything about it.
The following week I saw the advert again and I thought to myself I would really love to win that prize and I could not stop thinking about it. 2012 was an important year for me, my daughter was due to graduate and it was my 50th birthday both big photo opportunities. All I could think about was the competition and if I had nice teeth I would be able to smile in the photo’s rather than the usual grimace that looked like I was chewing a wasp. The competition stated that you could nominate someone or nominate yourself. I decided I would rather selfishly nominate myself, so I completed my entry and sent it off never expecting to hear any more.
It was a rare weekend when my daughter was home from university when I received my letter telling me I was one of the finalists in the competition. I was so excited and when I told my daughter I was a finalist in a competition to have £10,000 of dental work she said she was really surprised that I had applied but also very pleased for me as she knew how unhappy I was about my teeth.
I was invited to visit the practice to have a dental consultation as part of the competition process. I had not been to the dentist for quite some time and was worried about the poor condition of my teeth. I must admit I was really nervous.
I recall being greeted by some of the nicest staff who were so excited for me and I was soon totally at my ease. I was shown through to the dentist and that was when I first met Jaspal Sandu the man who was behind this fantastic competition. He carried out a very thorough examination of my mouth and teeth. He asked me lots of questions about what I did and didn’t like about my teeth and what my expectations were. He was lovely and made me feel totally comfortable to be able to speak about my teeth and the problems I had.
I must admit I did enjoy the examination as it not only covered the condition of my teeth but also the health of my mouth and we spoke about mouth cancer which was not something I had previously thought about. The x-rays that were taken revealed the true horror my teeth and I remember thinking that there was a lot of work required and I could not expect to win. If nothing else, I had had a very thorough examination and discussion about oral health and left the practice feeling very upbeat as it had been a most pleasant and informative experience.

I remember quite clearly the day I received the telephone call to say that I was the winner of the competition. I have never won anything before and this for me was just the best prize I could have won, I was ecstatic. Then the reality kicked in and I thought, what was I doing, I hate going to the dentist and my mind was filled with horrible thoughts of drills, injections and discomfort. I then thought about the dental practice and how lovely everyone had been and how comfortable I had felt. The practice had been so professional yet caring and it was this thought that re-assured me and made me realise how very lucky I was.
A treatment plan was created for me that entailed teeth whitening, replacement white fillings, new crowns, and a replacement bridge.
Never once in all my appointments did I feel uncomfortable or in any pain. In fact I really used to look forward to my appointments as I could very soon see the improvement with my teeth. I recall on one occasion I was so comfortable and relaxed that Jas had ask me to open my mouth wider as I was actually biting down on his finger as I was drifting off.
I must mention the lovely Alex who replaced my fillings. She has such a passion for what she does and really takes such a great pride in her work. She is such a credit to the practice.
I cannot tell you what a difference having this treatment has made to me. I was always reluctant to smile as I thought people would be looking at my teeth, but now I smile at any given opportunity. As for having photographs taken I can now step forward without any hesitation giving my biggest cheesiest grin. Not a day goes by when I don’t give myself a great big smile in the mirror just to make sure that it was not just a dream and yes I do have a great smile.
I am very fortunate to have won this prize and not a day goes by when I don’t acknowledge that fact. I can only encourage other people who have been worried about having dental treatment and perhaps like me had neglected their dental health to visit the dental practice to find out how they can help you. I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised and might even leave with a smile on your face.
I would like to close by saying a big thank you to all the staff at the practice; you have all made my experience an amazing one for which I am truly grateful.
Jackie

Be Adventurous

Me: “I’m about to enter our team for the OLYMPIC triathlon. I need a team name ASAP”
Adam: “OLYMPIC? Behave. 1500m swim will be a joke.”
Me: “I don’t want any negativity Jackson! We rowed the Channel, not the Thames!”
Adam: “The running and cycling doesn’t faze me, but swimming is tough man!”
Me: “So we have lessons. I can’t swim either. We go to one of the local swimming baths together and get on it.”
Adam: “F*** it, alright then! We’ll smash it!”
Me: “YES Jackson!!! You make me proud.”

That was a text conversation that I had yesterday. Very similar to the ones I had when I was recruiting for our row.

But, being adventurous doesn’t have to mean entering a triathlon or jumping out of a plane. It can just as easily mean trying out a new idea or a new method. In other words, getting out of our comfort zones.

So how can we be adventurous during our working day?

Let’s start by taking a leaf out of Seth Godin’s book and refer to our work as art. That is what we do after all, isn’t it? We create art and we should be proud of that.

We should also address ALL of our members by their first names instead of their titles. Irrespective of age. Titles are barriers and they should be broken. Our first goal is to connect with our members. You won’t connect with me if you call me Mr Sandhu. I’m Jas, plain and simple. But not necessarily in that order!

But beyond connection, we should aim to engage our members. Every single one. The best way to do that is by telling stories. About ourselves. And I’m not talking about dentistry, I’m talking about our personal lives. Who we really are. What we did at the weekend, what we’re going to do. What drives us, what makes us mad!

And here’s where we can be the most adventurous. Be ourselves. Don’t hide behind a mask – literal or metaphorical. Don’t be the person that we think we should be. Just be ourselves. I’d wager that most of us aren’t entirely comfortable with who we are all of the time. And that there are times when we’ve modeled ourselves on someone else. I know I have. There’s nothing more courageous than allowing people to get to know us. Faults and all.

I got an email last week and, with Andrea’s permission, I’ve copied it below:

Hi Boss,

Thank you for yesterday’s meeting.

Believe it or not that is the first time in my adult life I have stood up in front of people and presented something and felt in control and I hadn’t had a drink. I avoid anything like that at all cost. It makes me panic and I can’t cope with it. However, yesterday I wanted to do it, I could have easily left it to my intoxicated partner but I wanted to try and that has never happened before. I actually found it ok. So thank you x

Have a great weekend and see you soon.

Andrea

A fear of public speaking is one of the most common phobias. It’s a big deal. So well done Andrea and thank you.

Finally, one of the hardest things to say is “I don’t know.” As the practice leader, I have a vision which I’ve shared with you. Goals, SMART and ‘Fuzzy’ which I’ve shared with you. But I don’t know all the answers. I don’t know. That’s why I rely on you all to help find the answers.

It doesn’t matter if we make mistakes. In fact, we should, otherwise we’re not improving. The important thing is to learn from our mistakes, learn quickly and then adapt. In the words of Michael Masterson “Fail fast and fail forwards.”

Remember,
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller

Jas

Seasonal eating: spring foods

Spring is finally here. Days are getting longer, the air – warmer and the sun – brighter. Your body craves crispy cool salads, light soups, plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs to rejuvenate every cell.
Although nutritional values and foods vary from area to area, it is clear that seasonal eating is the best way to obtain more nutrients. For example, vitamin C content of spinach is three times higher in summer comparing to that in winter.
It is very easy to forget about seasonal eating these days, but spring is a wonderful time to start fresh and make new rules when it comes to grocery shopping and meal planning.
Shop locally or order organic food boxes to enjoy best seasonal crops.
Start your day with a raw vegetable juice.
Change your winter breakfast for something more refreshing and cleansing like a fruit salad or a smoothie. If porridge is your must-have, add chopped fruit or berries.
Have a lovely salmon salad or fish and steamed vegetables for lunch and make ratatouille for a comforting dinner – it’s so simple, healthy and will get your taste buds going.
Snack on fruits and raw nuts to top up your vitamin and mineral levels.
Remember to go with the rainbow of colours – nature has got every possible hue ready to be picked and enjoyed.
April foods
Vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, jersey royal new potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, rocket, sorrel, spinach, spring onions, watercress, rosemary, wild garlic
Fruits: bananas, kiwi
Meat & poultry: wood pigeon
Fish & seafood: cockles, cod, crab, halibut, john dory, salmon, sea trout, sea bass
May foods
Vegetables: artichoke, asparagus, aubergine, broccoli, carrots, courgettes, fennel, jersey royal new potatoes, mange tout, peas, radishes, rocket, runner beans, sorrel, spinach, spring onion, watercress
Fruits: cherries, elderflowers, kiwi, strawberries, gooseberries
Meat & poultry: wood pigeon, lamb, duck
Fish & seafood: cod, crab, Dover sole, haddock, halibut, herring, john dory, lemon sole, mackerel, plaice, salmon, sardines, sea trout, sea bass.
——
Natalia Ashton is a Horley-based nutritional therapist specialising in weight loss, women’s health, skin problems, vegetarian and vegan diets, digestive complains and sports nutrition.
For more information and details visit www.optimumnutrition4u.com

Nutritional Tips for Healthy Teeth and Gums

Healthy teeth and good nutrition go hand in hand. Here are a few tips for a beautiful smile.
Have natural yoghurt daily to support friendly bacteria that may cause bad breath, and add calcium to your diet for strong enamel. Choose natural organic yoghurt, ideally made with goats milk.
Magnesium is another mineral essential for healthy teeth – find it in raw almonds, walnuts, cashews, broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, rye bread, buckwheat and seafood.
Eat food high in essential fats such as wild salmon, trout, raw nuts, seeds, avocados and EV olive oil to reduce risk of caries and gum disease.
Avoid sugar, sugary drinks and foods made with white rice, semolina and flour – they feed bacteria in the mouth and affect protective barrier around your teeth. If you fancy a treat, choose dark chocolate or fresh fruit, have it after a meal, not on its own.
Do not snack constantly. Frequent eating alters pH levels making it more acidic enamel damage. Eating every 3.5-4 hours will allow saliva to neutralise the acid naturally. This rule also applies to drinks unless, it’s water or green tea – the latter contains polyphenols that may not only control bacterial build-up, but also reduce risk of oral cancer.
Chew food properly. It’s good for strengthening tooth enamel and gums.
Strong gums also require vitamin C found in citrus fruits, kiwi, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbages, papaya and strawberries, so enjoy some daily.

Bio
Natalia Ashton is a Surrey-based nutritional therapist specialising in weight loss, women’s health, skin problems, vegetarian and vegan diets, digestive complains and sports nutrition.
She believes in the healing power of natural wholesome foods and proper nutrition. She applies the science of functional medicine to help her clients improve, restore and maintain their feeling of better health.
Her aim has always been to educate and inspire her clients to make positive and realistic changes to their diet and life style and help them achieve their goals.
Natalia is also available for group sessions and talks on various subjects including weight loss and healthy eating, nutritional basics, supporting your health through the right diet and more.
For more information and details visit www.optimumnutrition4u.com

Good is Not Enough

In my lifetime, I’ve seen people applaud at the introduction of colour tv, mobile phones and wireless everything. Not only that, but the applause was even greater if these things actually worked. It was usual to expect problems, glitches. After all, this was the latest technology, we had to expect the occasional hiccup. Anyone who owned an early mobile phone knows this.

But, things have advanced so much that we’re used to seeing new technology all the time and we expect it to work. First time.

Perfection, these days, isn’t a lofty goal. We all, as consumers, have an expectation of perfection from the services or products that we buy. Even bus stops have displays telling us when we can expect the next bus.

So when we talk about perfection, we shouldn’t equate it to practicing pain-free dentistry, or seeing our members on time. That’s the very least that they expect. We should be aiming higher. Much higher!!

During the Second World War, the Japanese created a new philosophy. They named it Kaizen. The word Kaizen means “continuous improvement” and comes from the Japanese words “kai” which means “change” and “zen” which means “good”.

Kaizen involves setting standards and then continually improving them. Today major Japanese companies like Canon and Toyota employ the practice of Kaizen. All of their employees – from upper management to the cleaning crew are encouraged to come up with small improvement suggestions on a regular basis. This is not a once a month or once a year activity. It’s continuous.

In most cases these aren’t ideas for major changes. Kaizen is based on making little changes on a regular basis: always improving productivity, safety and effectiveness while reducing waste, as examples.

Western philosophy can be summarised as, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The Kaizen philosophy is to “do it better, make it better, improve it even if it isn’t broken, because if we don’t, we can’t compete with those who do.”

In other words, “Good is not enough.”

Jas

My Dreams Do Come True…

 

After attending a handful of interviews I finally got the answer I had been waiting for. A big fat YES in 2006. Excellent! I was going to train for my dream job, to be a dental nurse.
I  know  it is not exactly the ‘normal dream job’ for most, like a doctor, lawyer or actress, but it was my dream and I was going to do it well.
I took my exams at guys hospital in London, which was the most nerve wreaking experience I have ever had to go through and I qualified in 2008.
I received my results on a warm spring day, it was deafening for my parents as I screamed with delight for what seemed like an hour, jumping  up and down and cracking open the bubbly.
A year later I was asked to join the National Examination Board for dental nurses where I attended West and East Sussex hospitals to help teach fellow nursing students to prepare for their exams. This involved mock oral and practical exams. It was very rewarding to help nurses who were nervous, just like myself .
In 2011 I started work here, at the High Street Dental Practice, which I must add was one of the best decisions I have ever made. What a brilliant practice. Every patient is cared for with the highest degree of customer care. I am so proud  and very lucky to be a part of such a wonderful team.
Along with another big fat “YES” for 2011. I was asked to marry the man of my dreams on a beautiful spring evening in a field of daffodils. Exactly a year later we said ” I do” and I became Mrs Carter, our spring wedding of 2012.
What a few amazing years I have had. My dream job, husband and wedding. Then on Christmas eve, YES!  The biggest dream came true, I am going to be a mummy .