Dentist as muse

Dentist as muse

What you are about to read may seem unbelievable, but it is true. And it has great application to any service model that understands the impact and ROI of distinctive service.

A while back, I had to go to a specialty dentist for a toothy thing. My initial response was something like, “Oy. Ouch. Must I?”

So in I walked ? tail between legs. I have a long history with dentists and not a lot of pleasant memories. However, the first thing I noticed was the lack of the obligatory smell of what I think is old tooth dust that pervades all the dental offices that I have entered.

My appointment was for 2 p.m. At 2:10, the receptionist came out from behind the desk to escort me to the treatment room. She greeted me, apologized for the delay and to my amazement, in exchange for my patience, she handed me a card for admittance for two to a local movie theater.

The moment I sat in the chair, the nurse walked in. She greeted me warmly and handed me a “room service” menu so I could enjoy my beverage of choice throughout the procedure. OK, at this point, I was completely impressed, but the extraordinary experience was not yet at an end. 

The nurse then asked my permission to lower my chair ? a gesture usually offered by knowledgeable aestheticians. There on the ceiling ? instead of cheap white squares – was a beautiful photograph. Think of how pleasant this was as opposed to staring up into nothingness occupied by my thoughts of how much this was going to hurt.

I had a few moments to enjoy my sugarless smoothie and the image above before the dentist came in. While not a Johnny Depp look-alike, he was absolutely charming! He was completely engaging and personalized the experience, and I felt immediately comfortable and at ease. We chatted before he proffered a fresh satin eye mask so I wouldn’t have to stare into the glaring light above.

Surely you can see that this was a distinctive dental experience as well as note some key takeaways:

Integrity and accountability

Be your word by being on time, and if it is completely unavoidable, bend over backwards when you miss the mark by even a second. 

Leaders that allow members of their team to be late to meetings effectively accept lateness in their operations. A meeting time as well as other commitments is a form of a promise. To not keep promises denigrates the culture as well as the business model. Also, so many years of our accepting doctors are always late contributes to a laissez-faire attitude. 


I don’t really care if they charge a bit more. I will go back to them time and time again, and I will tell as many people as I know about them.

VIP status

If it is possible to be in a dental chair and experience luxury, I did, in terms of thoughtfulness, attention and the feeling that my time was important.


How could the photograph on the ceiling impact our spas, for instance? Prior to most massage experiences you are on the massage table looking down at feet in Birkenstocks. Got any other ideas?


This organization was clear that its strategy would produce patients for life and successful results for all constituents.


The entire experience was not only caring, guest-centric and thoughtful, but I actually left the office without any need for dental work, no fee, a smoothie under my belt and fodder for a blog three years hence. 

Bravo, dental team, and bravo, hoteliers and owners that don’t lose sight of what really drives your business success. In New Orleans, we call it “lagniappe,” meaning a little bit extra. In hospitality, it just makes good “cents.”

Thank you to all of you who blog back and share my enthusiasm for raising the bar.