I had dinner the other night in a restaurant that came highly recommended. Although the food was excellent, service was very slow. We rarely saw our server, and when we needed anything, I actually had to get up to ask someone to help us. We were told they were having a slight problem in the kitchen.
Under normal circumstances, the slow service might have ruined the evening for me. As it happened, I wasn’t in a hurry and didn’t let it bother me, until…
At the end of the meal, the maître d’ stopped by our table to ask how the evening had been. I said, “Well, since you asked…” and proceeded to calmly explain the problems we had experienced with slow service. His only reply was, “I’m sorry to hear that.” As he walked away, I realized his question was nothing more than a “courtesy.” He had no intention of doing anything about the problem—not even bothering to explain why it happened.
I wouldn’t have expected a discount or anything else from the restaurant. We’ve all experienced slow service from time to time. But the maître d’ obviously doesn’t understand one of the cardinal rules of customer service. When you make a mistake (and you will), what matters most is how you recover. Had he simply given me his card and suggested I call ahead next time so he could ensure I had a better experience, I would have walked out happy—and would definitely have taken him up on his offer. Instead, I won’t be returning to that establishment.
A dental practice is a service business, too. When there’s a problem, your response can either make—or break—the relationship. If you pretend nothing happened or give lip service to fixing the problem, there’s a good chance you’ll lose that patient.
If, however, you apologize for the problem and then find a way to make it right, you’ve strengthened the bond between the patient and practice. And that should always be the goal.
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