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Treating People.

Good customer service is always appreciated, and in some lines of business it may make or break you. A good restaurant can get by with great food, but add good customer service and you'll keep customers coming back. Maybe great service aids digestion? We also like receiving good customer service at stores, at the spa, and at hotels. After all, those are service oriented establishments aren't they?

Generally speaking, a good customer experience enhances the delivery of many services. However there are some areas where we don't really expect good service, and if we do receive it then it's a noticeable exception. When we're sick, we visit the doctor, but whether or not the doctor has great bedside manners does little to prevent our visit. After all, we aren't going to curl up and die because we don't like how our doctor talks to us. We also expect a long wait and generally accept this a par for the course in the health industry.

We've talked about food and healthcare, both of which we cannot do without. But what about a service that we need, but that we generally don't like and tend to avoid for a long as possible. Ever had a toothache? They don't usually start out chronic do they? However most of us delay our visits to the dentist until we can't even scream in agony, as the air hitting our teeth would cause further pain.

Visiting the dentist is a uniquely uncomfortable experience. No one likes being prodded and poked in the mouth, with drills and pointed metal implements. And let's not even get started on the scratching and scraping sounds that give a new meaning to the phrase "setting your teeth on edge". Yet, routinely subjecting ourselves to dental procedures can save us a world of pain. However that's seldom incentive enough for some of us. Is there anything that could possible make a dental visit bearable? Believe it or not, one dental practice came up with a brilliant approach.

The Jamaica Cosmetic Dental Services (JCDS) Facebook page tries to lure customers with the promise of a short wait time and "wow experiences". Generally we expect to wait when we visit the dentist, and rightfully use the time to steel ourselves in preparation for the assault against our mouths. However, if you've ever tried to slip a dental visit in on your lunch break, then you know the frustration of long wait periods. So the promise of a 15 minute or less wait is actually good bait.

Before visiting anywhere, a little research is in order. A quick trip to the JCDS website gives you reason for pause. On the site you are greeted by the smiling faces of JCDS staff members looking down at you. The image is reminiscent of sitting back in your dentist's chair, minus the bright white light and gnarly instruments. The image is actually quite pleasant and sets the tone for a visit even before you've decided to go.

The image is actually quite pleasant and sets the tone for a visit even before you've decided to go.

Once you've entered the JCDS website, you are greeted by photos not of teeth, tools, or office furniture, but of smiling staff members, children, and community outreach programmes. The staff photo in which staff members pose with random things from around the office is worth special mention. One staff member is holding up a sign that says "I love my job", which while unusual is immediately believable because of the sheer fun nature of the photo. These people actually looke like they love their jobs!

Another thing stood out on the site: the details of the promise of a "wow experience". Part of this experience is the promise of a hand massage to relax you before, and music to distract you during, your treatment. By this point, it becomes obvious that these people get something that everyone else has missed: getting people to do something that they don't want to do is possible if you can make the overall experience better. Air travel sucks, but friendly flight attendants can make being stuck in a metal tube for hours slightly more bearable. And no one likes to be reminded that their airplane could fall out of the sky, but fun safety instructions go a long way to make you pay attention. So too, JCDS promises to transform your dental visit with excellent service, and they deliver on this promise!

Getting people to do something that they don't want to do is possible if you can make the overall experience better.

The first think you'll notice when you visit their office is, well, their office. It doesn't feel like a regular dental office. It's spacious and bright. The treatment areas don't have doors, but still maintain privacy while getting rid of annoying door slamming. The usual dental charts are replaced with large beautiful portraits of people. In such a beautiful environment, even the tools looks less daunting. And if you're a tea drinker, you will appreciate the gourmet tea in the waiting area. Oh, and there is coffee if you fancy that.

As a new client, instead of being greeted by forms to fill out, your receptionist asks you for basic information and enters it directly into the system. That made registration quick and easy! And you'd better drink your lovely tea quickly, because they do deliver on the promise of the 15 minute or less wait time.

Your first visit starts with a tour of the facility. That's right, a tour. They do everything to distract you from what you're actually there to do. And guess what, it works! After the tour your taken to the treatment room and talked through you're treatment.

One thing that stands out as you interact and speak with the staff is their attentiveness - they seem truly interested in your comfort and well-being, not just in getting the job done. One way that they ensure that you're relaxed and comfortable is by offering you a complimentary hand massage before you start your treatment. But wait, there is more! For many people, the noise of the machines and instruments in their mouth is even more nerve racking than the actual feel of the instruments. Understanding this, and having a desire to make you as comfortable as possible throughout your procedure, the brilliant minds behind JCDS came up with another great distraction. You can listen to music of your choosing, delivered to your ears via headphones throughout your treatment. The relaxing effect of this is not to be underestimated.

After your examination and/or treatment you are offered a warm towel. Only after you are comfortably clean does your dentist or an assistant explain what was done, and make recommendations for other procedures. Most places stop there. JCDS takes this a step further and prepares a treatment plan which is printed and provided to you before you leave.

On the counter by the reception area is a collection of small signs, including the "I love my job" sign featured in the photo on the website. Nestled in this pile is one sign which epitomises the experience promised and delivered by the JCDS. That sign reads: "We treat people not teeth". That sentence is what truly distinguishes the JCDS experience: they focus not on your cavities, your cleaning, your crown nor your filling. Instead the focus on you, and everything else falls in place.

"We treat PEOPLE not teeth".

It is evident that much thought was put into how to transform a normally unpleasant experience, into one that you no longer dread. From your first contact online, to your first visit to the office the overall experience created by JCDS is actually enjoyable and that is quite a feat.

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