The expectant consumer

CustomerToday’s consumer expects the best, Practice Plan’s creative director, Les Jones, explains why and what you should be doing to provide excellent customer service.

I’ve sat in a restaurant with my father, when he’s been given the wrong meal – a beef dish instead of the chicken he ordered. It was only when he was half way through eating it that I noticed and said to him – ‘Dad, I thought you ordered the chicken?’ ‘I did, he replied, but this is fine.’

I was staggered that he hadn’t sent the meal back, but my father comes from a different generation. Where complaining, or even asserting your rights as the customer was not the ‘done’ thing.

How times have changed. We now have a retail culture where the customer is very much in charge. If they don’t like the experience they’ve received, they’re not backwards in coming forwards. And if you can’t sort it quickly, they’re off…down the road to your nearest competitor, whilst tapping into their favourite social media site to spread the word.

High expectations

Consumers today have high expectations – good is not good enough and average doesn’t get a look in. Consumers expect the best, and why shouldn’t they?

I visit many dental practices and lots have a vision of being ‘the best’ dental practice in their particular location. But you don’t have to drill too far down to find that, in many cases, there is a lack of substance to back up the ambition, or even a common understanding as to what the best looks like.

Of course, only one practice can be ‘the best’ in their particular area – however you choose to define it. But every practice has the potential to be ‘excellent.’ And there really is little excuse not to be. The opportunities are there, the technology is there, the training is available and the consumer desire is palpable. So, why would any practice settle for less?

An example: how many practices put up with unfriendly, unhelpful or unproductive staff on the front desk because they don’t want to have that difficult conversation or make a firm decision? Yet, day in, day out those people are losing you the patients you’ve worked so hard to attract.

A seamless, well designed and exceptional customer journey is within the remit of every practice. That fact that so many don’t deliver means there is a big opportunity to build a competitive advantage for those who do.

Delivering an excellent customer journey

In my opinion, delivering a world-class experience is no more difficult or time-consuming than delivering a poor one. It is, however, more enjoyable, more satisfying, more rewarding and more profitable. What it requires is strong leadership, someone who sets the bar high and leads by example and a culture shift by the whole team, so that collectively they buy into and believe in delivering an excellent customer journey – time and time again.

Try and find yourself some time to come away from the coal face and take a helicopter view of how your practice is performing. Where are the weaknesses? How could you improve on each stage of the customer journey to make it that little bit more efficient and that little bit more special?

If you’re prepared to invest the time, the rewards will soon come.

Practice Plan is a specialist provider of practice-branded dental plans. It has a wealth of business and plan support services, including expert marketing support, and a proven reputation for supporting practices to develop and maintain a profitable and sustainable business. So, whether you’re considering your options out of the NHS, looking to introduce a plan into an established practice or considering switching from another plan provider, Practice Plan has the ability to offer you expert advice. Call 01691 684165 or visit

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