I had an experience today that no customer ever should have.  
As you may have noticed in our waiting room we have a TV screen which gives mouth hygiene advice, fun facts and information about the services we provide.  We have some great new before and after photos of patients we’ve treated and some new patient experience videos that I wanted to share with all our patients on the screen.  Theoretically this should be a straightforward thing to do – go into the programme, upload the files and voila – new photos and testimonials for the waiting room.  Unfortunately, as we all know, technology more often than not doesn’t play the game and I spent an hour trying to make the system do something it clearly didn’t want to. 
It’s all OK though I thought, I’ll call the support line.  Now I have to say that in the past I’ve had a pretty good experience with this company, Medivision.  They’ve always been quick to answer the phone and helpful with advice.  Today, however, was a whole different kettle of fish.  
“Em, actually I’m not that familiar with this system, I’ve been working with our new system PicBox , which is so much more user friendly.”  Was the initial response accompanied by a little self-indulgent chortle. 
“OK, is there anyone there who does know this system?” (bearing in mind that I’d only upgraded to this version about 18 months ago)  
“Um no, it’s just me that’s here.”
“I suppose I could go onto your system remotely and see if I can work it out.”
“Well that would be helpful.”  I replied.
And so it went on, 15 minutes of I’m not really sure what to do here, I’m not really sure why it’s not doing that, perhaps this will work, oh no it didn’t.
Talk about frustrating!! It wasn’t really what I expect when I call a company’s support line.  When it seemed like we really weren’t getting anywhere and at the point where I would have expected him to say : “Can you leave this with me and I’ll find out for you and call you back to solve the problem”, he turned around and said “ You should really just upgrade to our new system, it’s much better.”
I was so angry!! Here’s a great marketing strategy, lets make our support so unhelpful that it forces people to pay to upgrade to our newest system.  No, that is not a way to win business!  In fact it’s a downright turn off!    Can you guess what I’ve just spent the last half hour doing – that’s right researching other companies that provide the same service – I have a face–to–face meeting with Veronica from one of them in 2 days.
What Medivision have failed to realise is that the way to keep your existing customers is to provide a service that is second-to- none.  Make yourself incomparable and indispensable.  It’s only once you do that that you create a bond of trust with your customer.  As a customer it’s only when you have that trust in a company that you invest in their new techniques and propositions.

It’s the same in any business and thinking about it it’s exactly the same in dentistry.  We, as a business and healthcare provider need to work hard constantly to support and help our patients in order to build a bond that means when we offer new services and treatments they trust us that we have their best interests at heart.  It’s all very well bringing in new technology and new services that we know will make our patients’ experiences easier and improve their oral health but if we haven’t cultivated this bond with them in the first place then they’ll never trust us enough to try new services which will ultimately benefit them and then we’ve created a lose-lose situation. 
If I’m honest it’s only really as I’ve been writing this that I see how much this really applies in dentistry and to our practice.  Keith and I are in the process of the 2 biggest equipment purchases for the practice we’ve ever made.  We know that the advantages they are going to bring to our patients are huge and I’m hopeful that the relationships our team have and continue to build with our patients, will mean that our patients will really benefit from the new techniques this equipment will allow us to share.