Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dentists and the service industry.

So now I have to get a crown (which I didn't realize was almost always necessary after a root canal--especially in a molar) and I have to decide whether I should go to my regular dentist or to my new dentist. This is my post on trying to figure out the pros and cons of either and it brings up an interesting point that relates to my job.

Part of what my company does is coach financial planners on how to get and retain high net worth clients (or any clients, for that matter), and we've had some speakers talk about presentation of office etc.

My old dentist, let us call him A, has a beautiful private office in the first floor of what was once a house outside of Davis Square in Somerville. This used to be relatively easy to access from my old address, but is somewhat harder now (it is where I learned to ride a bike). The waiting room has a TV, and a large array of magazines and some lovely art (because the dentist owns a share in an art gallery on Newbury St.). There are several hygienists and the rooms are relatively private. There's mouthwash and toothpaste available in the bathroom. There's always unobtrusive rock and roll playing. There are plants.

I generally see the hygienist and only see the dentist for cavities. He's nice and thorough, and the practice uses the most modern equipment including showing you a slide of the lovely bacteria in your mouth on a big screen. It also, IMO oversells. They like you to come in every three months. They've scaled both my teeth and my husbands, convinced us to buy a water pick and seem to end each session with some new product you should really try--special toothpaste, mouthwash, etc. Most I resist and if I do buy, I don't buy it from them but find a lower price elsewhere. I'm sure it's how he is able to have such a lovely office. Parking is on the street, but I've never really had a problem.

Dentist B, on the other hand is in Malden and were the weather permitting, I could easily walk there. There is a parking lot, but it's kind of tricky to get to. She's in an old office building. The office is spare and she has only one hygienist and privacy is a little less. She's Chinese, and didn't always understand me during small talk but always understood when I said I was still feeling pain or had other concerns. I don't think she was using the most modern techniques (but I don't' know since this was my first root canal), and even though she prescribed pain killers for me she spoke of her own belief in only holistic and homeopathic medicine.

Here's the thing. I don't think I really like Dentist A and I liked Dentist B, for all of the limitations. She seemed more concerned, even though Dentist A called me several times (I had left messages telling him of my problem) assuring me that he would fit me in to relieve the pain even though he was fully booked. He worked very hard to get my bite right from the filling--but this was the first time that I had ever had a problem with a bite and I don't know if that was him speeding through the filling or just a fluke and didn't charge me to redo his own work, but somehow she just seemed more gentle and more responsive. On the negative, both seem to have slightly ditzy assistants. Dentist B also seems a little disorganized, scrambling to get everything together, while Dentist A clearly has a system, with everything in it's place. Not something you want to worry about as you lay there with your mouth painfully open, and strange machines buzzing.

So I'm probably leaning towards switching dentists. So what do we make of the better office theory of our speakers. In the end, it's about concern and listening and not the showy office or expensive decorations. I'm not sure if most financial planners get that.

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