The wisdom of grumpy old wo/men

By 15 March, 2019Uncategorized

Have you ever found yourself chuntering at things that, in the great scheme of things, don’t really matter?  I have, and I still find myself doing it even now.

And much of my pointless ire is aimed at unnecessarily bad customer service, or situations where a system or automated process is completely dysfunctional.  You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?


  • The sales assistant who feels the contents of his/her navel are the most important thing on the planet
  • The dental manufacturer that quotes you a price, only to then send you an invoice with an extra 20% lobbed on (VAT)
  • The automated telephone system that makes you press an endless array of buttons only to then cut you off
  • The computer that demands you jump through hoops of fire to prove you actually exist
  • The salesman (and yes, it’s invariably a man who engages in this) who thinks 1980’s sales techniques are still applicable in today’s world
  • The social media company that has no human point of contact
  • The [LARGE GLOBAL GENERIC ONLINE WAREHOUSE] delivery person whose personality was shat out by a rabid goat
  • The hand dryer in the gents toilets that is about as effective as an asthmatic badger exhaling through a hessian sack.


All little things, but they strive to promote stress and indignation in you.  So common now is this, that when we encounter it, it’s almost not a surprise anymore.  When the opposite happens, when the expected shite experience turns into an example of glorious competence, you just feel the need to tell people.  Take for example my recent passport renewal.  Expensive, but all done in a week.  No stress, no hassle.  What the hell were they playing at?  Same with the DVLA as well.  I thought her majesties government was supposed to send you mad with their incompetence.

Now transfer this to the field of dentistry.  I’ve seen good and bad practices.  It’s now getting to the stage where I reckon I can walk in and tell you within an hour if the practice is a success or of it’s facing a whole heap of problems.  The good practices, the ones that are thriving, the ones that keep the complaints away and the bank manager happy are the ones who focus on being the exception to the norm we see in this country.

  • The patients are made to feel welcome
  • The patients feel they can trust the dentist and the staff
  • The patients recommend the practice to their friends and relatives
  • The patients come to the practice if there is a problem, not the lawyers and not the GDC
  • The practice is based on honesty, service and good competent dentistry, rather than gimmicks, ego and how much money can be extracted
  • The practice builds relationships with the patients rather than sheep dipping them in and out of the dental chair.

Stand out in the right way, and the right people will flock to your door.  Ignore the “look at me, look at mine, look at how much better I am” social media presence of some in our profession.  It is an illusion, a whisper of what ethics could be and is also high risk.  You make a mistake in THAT kind of practice and you are rarely forgiven.

There are some who say I am wrong.  There are some who say Instagram and Facebook et al are the way to go in promoting yourself and your practice.  There are some who say you have to make a name for yourself, be seen to be a “key opinion leader” (whatever the hell that is).

I say you just have to do good dentistry, with an ethical foundation based around prevention and health, to patients who you like and who trust you.  Then the referrals of new patients just flow in without you having to spend thousands on a fancy website with all the bells and whistles.  I know this because it is what I did for 10 years.  I appreciate there is probably room for both flash gimmicks and practices that rely on word of mouth, and I know which one I’d rather work in with today’s litigious society.

Maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe I’m old fashioned.

What do you think?