Importance of a complete service

Importance of a complete service

 By Lester Ellman, The Dentistry Business...

One of my favourite pastimes is people-watching. Watching someone who is an expert at what they do is very fascinating. Fairly recently, I was indulging my passion and began taking an interest in watching the waiters serving in a restaurant. Having tried carrying a couple of plates of food from the kitchen to the dining table, I know how hard it can be to do this without slopping some gravy. So, I was interested to watch what professional waiters do so that they don’t spill the contents all over the floor or, heaven forbid, the customers. What I discovered was quite fascinating. A truly professional waiter will balance the plates on their hands in the familiar way and then walk towards the table being served. But they walk from the waist downwards. Their upper body hardly moves and they walk without the normal rise and fall so that their movement is flat. The more I watched, the more obvious it was which were the full-time staff and which had been brought in to make up the numbers – they just did not have the same levels of skill. 

At about the same time, I went to a hotel for lunch. This had a much lesser standard restaurant; the lack of training and expertise was clearly evident. Most of the staff had little interest in the job. There was no pride and no sign of a career structure hierarchy. Being really good at the job was unlikely to lead to any real improvement in status, so there was little incentive to get better.

By chance, as I was thinking about the contrast between the two venues, the restaurateur, Michel Roux Jr, produced a programme teaching untrained young people about the skills and aspirations of properly trained waiting staff and what service should actually mean to make the customer feel ‘special’.

Linking this to dentistry, I, consequently, drew the comparison with many of our young people still learning the job and those who have been thoroughly trained. Sadly, very many of the members of our team are trained only in technical matters. That is not to belittle this aspect, but simply to observe that we tend to concentrate on this side to the detriment of the rest. 

What we provide should be a complete service, taking on board the care of our patients in a holistic way i.e caring for their comfort and wellbeing, as well as the technical aspects, ensuring that the treatment we provide is necessary and efficacious. After visiting many practices, I have concluded that there is much to be done in training the team to enhance the levels of service we provide.

In these difficult times, the practices which will prosper are those which offer more than the basics. This does require the investment of training and there is the element of risk, which we have always used as an excuse, that once trained they will seek a ‘better’ post elsewhere so the training will be lost. It will not happen if the ‘team’ values itself and is valued by the principal. If they are valued – tell them!


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