(Warning: I’m about to rant, but there are some business takeaways…)
Being the Two-Bit Operation we are, John and I are on our own for health insurance. This is fine most of the time since we have basic health plans and are constantly striving for fitness using the CrossFit workouts. Dental insurance, of course, is something I didn’t buy. I have my SonicCare toothbrush and I floss daily – good enough right? Anyways, I thought it was about time I’d try to do a dental checkup and cleaning just to be safe. Before we begin, here’s the definition of a dental cleaning that I found afterwards: scaling, root planning and polishing. Ok, here’s what happened at St. Isabella Dental in Irvine, CA:
- I find a coupon for a dental cleaning, x-ray and checkup for $69 – what a deal! I call mid-day today to see if they have any openings and luckily someone had cancelled and they have a 5pm slot. Perfect.
- I arrive at 5, do my paperwork and they call my name called after about 10 min. So far, so good.
- I sit in the dentist chair and the receptionist tells me the dentist will be right with me. The chairs are outfitted with tvs so she offers to let me watch, but it doesn’t work. I stare at the ceiling and browse on my phone for about 20 min.
- The dentist comes by and asks if I want to watch tv. Upon seeing that my tv doesn’t work, he moves me to the back chair where the tv does work. I start flipping between Law & Order and X-Men.
- Meanwhile, the assistant takes my x-rays as I watch tv and I notice some other people have come and gone while I wait…peculiar.
- It’s past 6 now and there’s no other patients and finally the dentist comes by and looks at my x-ray. Just from looking at my x-ray and without looking into my mouth he decides I need a deep cleaning ($400, 4 return visits at $100 each), and 2 cavities filled (another $400). I tell him that I’d like to look into dental insurance before committing to anything and then he tells me that I should also consider laser teeth whitening… He uses his fingers and pokes around my teeth for about 2 min then leaves.
- The assistant comes back with a work order for all the stuff they want to do to me along with the $800 price tag. I also let her know that I want to defer until I look into insurance. She makes me sign the paper saying that I received the statement but that I’m allowed to deny the work.
- She then says she’ll do my cleaning now. Exciting! Finally! She gets out the polish and polishes my teeth. Tells me to rinse. Then raises my chair and says I’m done. No brushing, flossing, no cleaning w/ that metal hook thing. Oddly, my mouth doesn’t even feel clean. After wasting 1.5 hours of my life I really don’t feel like sticking around anymore and I leave. In fact, I wanted to leave after he tried to sell my on more services before even cleaning my teeth. I hit the gym and take out my frustration on some weights.
Here’s my takeaways:
- Make sure the your promotions fit your business. Do not go to a health care provider that takes coupons.
- Respect your customers and their time. Dentists and doctors really need to find a better way to manage their patient queue. I actually do have better things to do than watch X-Men at the dentist for an hour. I called around noon of the same day to make the appointment – shouldn’t they have known their load and known that they wouldn’t get to me until 6? Or tell me there might be a wait and provide wifi so I can work.
- It’s fine to upsell services in your business (all business do it), BUT if you’re going to do it, you better make sure people are satisfied with the basic level of service first. Yeah, I sorta knew it was going to be an upsell session, but at least give me what I wanted! Next time I go to a dental cleaning, I’m going to print out that definition of a dental cleaning and make sure they do everything.
- Don’t pay for lead generation if you’re not going to satisfy the customer. They obviously wanted me to become a loyal customer that buys more services. I could have been that customer if I had actually received what I was expecting. In the restaurant business, out of 20 unhappy diners, only 1 will tell you in person. The rest will go tell their friends. Friends, hear my story.
- Don’t let your success hinder the success of your customers. Private health care consistently leaves a bad taste in my mouth. What motiviation did the dentist have to clean my teeth? He wanted me to buy the $400 cleaning. And after I told him I would look into it – that was probably the flag that I probably wasn’t going to do it so they just shafted me on the cleaning. Either that, or all of his customers get subpar cleanings so they all come back for $400 deep cleanings…if that’s the case, that really sucks.
I’m glad I got that off my chest. Now I can continue my life, find a new dentist, and hope that people don’t follow in my footsteps by going to a dentist that takes coupons.