The customer service difference

Jan. 1, 2006
Regardless of economic conditions of the moment, sales-driven companies are always dependent on one key factor - exemplary customer service.

by Roger P. Levin, DDS

Regardless of economic conditions of the moment, sales-driven companies are always dependent on one key factor - exemplary customer service. Despite any changes that may take place in dentistry in the future, the nature of your dental customer’s buying patterns is not likely to change.

Customers select businesses where they are treated well

There is an old saying that everyone wants to feel special. Businesses that have been able to translate this into reality for their customers tend to be highly successful. For example, despite the prominence of large, warehouse-like stores throughout North America that offer extremely discounted prices, many mid-level and boutique stores are doing brisk business. People who spend their money in these specialty shops often feel more comfortable spending their money where they have a personal relationship with the business proprietor. Sales reps can certainly learn a lesson from this example.

Services require relationships

Dentistry is a relationship business. Your goal is to “wow” every dental office you walk into every time, every day, without exception. Customer service is about making every dentist and staff member feel special. Ask yourself these questions:

What will have them feeling better about themselves after you spend time with them?

Does your relationship make the doctors want to spend time with you?

Here are a few quick tips you can implement immediately:

An enthusiastic greeting - Be sure that you greet all members of each dental office enthusiastically. Let them know how much you enjoy seeing them.

Smile - In the busy, hectic pace of dental practices today, dentists and staff members sometimes forget to smile in front of their patients. Do not make the same mistake.

Personalize - Begin each conversation with something personal as opposed to jumping into a technical or sales conversation immediately. Take the time to talk to each dentist or team member about something in his or her life.

Think special - Do something special for your offices. Whether it is offering a flower to staff members or following up on a conversation from a previous visit, you want to do at least one thing that is special for each dental team. What makes your customer service different from other representatives? Perhaps it’s notes for special occasions or maybe it’s birthday cards - anything that sends practices the message that you care.

Show interest - Learn new information about team members’ lives. Who are the members of their family? Where do they work? Where have they traveled? What interests them? One of the best questions is, “What’s new in your life?” You will get more of a response than from, “How are you?” All too often, that routine question just elicits, “I’m fine,” but nothing more. Be sure to make notes of the conversation somewhere in the dentist’s record so that you can reference it for a future visit.

With so many ways to improve customer service, where do you start? I suggest that you begin by identifying 10 improvements that you want to make in your sales presentation in the coming month and create a deadline. Within six months, you will be providing a level of service that you have never been able to achieve before.


Customer service, one of the major systems in any business, is critical to your short- and long-term success. The world will keep changing, but customer service never becomes passé. If anything, it becomes even more important, year after year, because customers often expect better treatment over time. Your goal is to provide extensive customer service, with 100 percent of dentists and staff members enjoying a great experience every single time they interact with you.

Roger P. Levin, DDS, is founder and CEO of Levin Group, a leading dental practice management consulting firm that is dedicated to improving the lives of dentists through a diverse portfolio of lifetime services and solutions. Since the company’s inception in 1985, Dr. Levin has worked to bring the business world to dentistry. A popular lecturer, Dr. Levin addresses thousands of dentists and staff worldwide each year in 100-plus seminars and at the dental industry’s most prestigious meetings.