Friday, June 4, 2010

Customer Service Message

How to Lose Customers as a Pediatric Dentist:

1) Buy the practice from wonderful people who really understand children and who my daughter has been seeing, with no problems even with a cavity filling, for the last 2 years.

2) Change all the policies which made it a successful practice, including putting a signature page in the new paperwork that has the parent sign away their right to come back into the office with the child. This new policy does not have an age limit on it - they could take a 2-3 year old back there with no supervision now.

3) When questioned, say that the new policy has always been in effect (BS), and that the reason for it is that it “reduces drama” and “gets them used to going back on their own”. NB: I’m all for kids doing big stuff on their own, but can only read “reduces drama” as “the kids believe anything we tell them and they’re too scared to say anything to their parents afterward”.

4) When I’m back there with my daughter and you’ve brought in two 3-year-olds with their moms, it’s bad form for a hygenist to say “What is this? Mommy day?!?” loudly.

5) When my 6-year-old has been a complete sweetie through the x-ray, and the poking, and the spinny-thing cleaning, and the first half of the flossing (uppers), when she flinches and squirms and wiggles around during the second half of the flossing there might be a problem. NB: I noticed this, but said nothing. I was quiet as an invisible mother.

6) Do not say to said 6 y.o. “Why are you crying?”, in a clearly ticked off voice. When she says “My gums hurt” and points to exactly where, don’t look at me and say “This is what happens when parents come back. You haven’t been brushing well enough and there was some build-up. A little bit of bleeding is perfectly normal after cleaning.” No, no it’s really not, thanks

7) Do not use as part of your defensive argument that you’ve been doing this for 37 years. You’re clearly only about 10 years older than me, at most.  So, unless you started being a hygenist at 13, you’re lying your ass off.

8) Do not blame the patient for being in pain, and very quietly crying.  She is 6. This is pain, not drama, I can tell the difference, even if you can’t. Do not argue with me about this point.

9) When I look in her mouth and see a dark pink stripe between two teeth where your over-enthusiastic flossing of her teeth bruised the heck out of her gums, possibly even cutting, don’t give me lip and continue to blame her crying on me being there. Do not tell me that this is normal. Do not tell me there’s nothing wrong. Do not say that clearly I’m wrong and that she’s had cleanings before, and that I have to do better cleaning her teeth. I never said she’d not been cleaned before. I said she had no problems before.

10) When checking out, Ms. Receptionist, don’t continue to blame me and the patient for the fact that she is still quietly crying and pushing against her gums where they hurt.

I am quite proud of myself that at no point in all of this did I speak in anything but the most calm and mature voice. I blamed no one, I said I clearly understood what they were saying. I just at no point agreed with them. Particularly about the brushing - she brushes her teeth twice a day for over a minute and a half each time. I supervise every brushing and even do it for her if she’s not doing it right. There is no yellow build-up anywhere on her teeth. Anywhere. The x-rays showed only perfectly healthy teeth with no new cavities - we must be doing something correctly, even without flossing since there is absolutely no evidence of cavities between her teeth.

I never said to the hygenist that this was her fault; not even by implication. I never did anything but ask my daughter to calm down, where it hurt, and talk to everyone nicely. All of the arguing was coming from the hygenist who was clearly feeling very defensive. Gee, I wonder why. I also wonder what would’ve happened if I had stayed out in the waiting area like a good little obedient mommy - believe me, you’d’ve had one really ticked off amazon then.

I informed the dentist of all that happened (since he wisely asked) in the same calm voice, and explained that since her lower teeth are very tightly together with a large space near the gums what probably happened is that the hygenist had to force the floss to get it between the lower teeth. This makes it snap down very, very hard on the gums, hurts like hell, and can cause swelling which makes the mouth painful for hours or even days later. This is precisely we don’t floss except in extreme circumstances. I will gladly teach her how to do it when she is old enough to control the floss herself.

No, we will never be going back to that dentist.
Yes, I will tell everyone about the new experience and recommend against this place to everyone.
Yes, I have already found at least one “rate the dentist” site, and put a very condensed version of this up there.

It took 30 minutes, with ice water rinses and a dose of ibuprofen, for my kiddo to calm down after we got home. There is a huge pink line between each of two sets of teeth, exactly where she was complaining.

Thank you "Pediatric Dental Group of Colorado - Arvada". We'll be searching elsewhere from now on.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Yikes, that is horrible! We had a fantastic dentist that suddenly stopped taking our insurance. Which they notified me of after the appointment. I also have seen the no-parents thing at the next stop and kept looking. We finally found someone we REALLY like so if you are still looking, let me know!