The Colonel Watson BLOG

It’s gone very quiet at the British Dental Association (BDA) recently. I guess they went by the maxim ‘least said, soonest mended’. Say as little as possible and inquisitive people like me will get bored and go away.

The Association has a new financial plan, based on lower subscription income, but with lower staff costs. They have weathered the redundancies and only had one resignation from their Principal Executive Committee (Eddie Crouch). So the BDA can settle down to being a membership organisation with most members not seeking 1:1 help, but relying on the website for information and advice.

All will be well if, when it comes to renewal time, members think they are getting good value for money. However one posed the question on Facebook recently: ‘Can anyone remind me again why I am a BDA member?’ She is an associate and on the cheapest grade of membership.

She rang for advice and was told that as she had only ‘essential’ membership the person she spoke to could only direct her to advice sheets on the website and could give her no advice over the telephone. However she could find no answer to her query from that source.

I don’t know if she has any Facebook ‘friends’ at the BDA, but, if so, they ought to take her complaint seriously.

The BDA website says that for her grade of membership she gets collective Trade Union representation and personal employment support, as well as access to over 5,000 website pages, borrowing rights at the BDA library, plus subscriptions to the British Dental Journal and BDA News.

When, though, you look at the website as an associate, you find that virtually all the advice is targeted at the practice owner, in effect your boss. The first thing I look for online is whether the site is interactive. I want to be able to tell it what the problem is and then be directed to the solution in one click.

Only if I can’t find the answer do I decide to ring up, with the attendant delays and listening to Vivaldi. Only if she can easily find the answer to her problem on the BDA website will our associate dentist think it’s worth the money to renew her subscription.

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