Last weekend Jayne and I stayed in a city hotel, while we were presenting our one day Practice Management Event at Darling Harbour.
We stayed in one of the newer city hotels.
After our event had finished, Jayne and I met up with some of the event sponsors and event attendees at the bar in the hotel for a post-event adult beverage.
Our waiter was Sam.
I’m glad we learned his name because we never saw much of him.
When Jayne and I joined the group [we were late arriving after packing up our conference room] our friends had already been served by Sam.
We knew this because they were sitting with empty drink glasses in front of them.
Have you ever been made to feel invisible?
When Sam came over to take our orders he made me feel as if I was invisible.
And it was probably because I was the oldest in the party.
But I was the thirstiest.
And the hungriest.
But that didn’t seem to register with Sam.
And nor did it register with him that I could have been the one picking up the bill.
What surprised me about Sam’s LACK OF service to our group [and to me] was the way he brought the last order of drinks before we went off to dinner.
Now the last order was really easy. It was two drinks, and we were a party of five.
[What this meant was that three of the group were not having another drink].
What Sam did was just plonk the two drinks down in front of people who the drinks were not for, and then arrogantly walk away.
Sam had perfected the art of making the customer feel unimportant and invisible.
Please meet Sarah
At 8:00pm our party moved to the hotel dining room where we were served by Sarah.
Sarah, unlike Sam, was a true gem, and a pleasure to deal with.
She had a memory like a steel trap, and nothing was too much bother or trouble for her.
Sarah was attentive to our questions and requests.
If Sarah did not know the answer to one of our questions she was off to find out the answer and returned promptly with the answer.
Sarah’s powers of memory were astonishing.
She addressed every member of our dining party by name throughout the night, and on one occasion was able to remember two four-digit Club member numbers [despite a distracting interruption] without needing to write those numbers down.
She offered advice on wine and was quick to anticipate the diminution of our beverages throughout the evening, ensuring and providing replenishment in very appropriate time frames.
At the completion of our meal, Sarah offered a hand written thank you card.
Sarah was one to behold.
And then there was Sam.
Following dinner our dining party returned to the bar area to join a small group of clients and seminar attendees for an after dinner nightcap.
And Sam was our waiter.
And wait we did.
In fact, at one point it seemed our table had two empty drink glasses for each member of our group.
And no replacement beverages.
It seemed that Sam was busy chatting up a group of three very young female patrons over beside the bar and while doing so he was neglecting his tables.
When I questioned the floor management about Sam’s LACK OF service they said he was not noted for this.
Well he WAS NOTED for this by our group.
And that was all that mattered.
What’s the dental application here David?
There are times in the dental surgery when we do get busy, but we should never ignore our paying customers.
And nor should we ignore our paying customers, no matter whether or not they are the type of person we identify with, or not?
Am I making sense?
I don’t think Sam had the interests of his employer at heart.
I think Sam was too busy focusing on his own interests firstly.
The reason that customers change their patronage of ANY businessis primarily because they feel ignored or taken for granted.
At no time did Sarah our food waiter take our party for granted.
Sarah made us feel important.
He ignored us.
On multiple occasions.
I really hope Sam learns a lesson from this.
He wasn’t five-star standard.
He let the whole establishment down.
Need your phones monitored?
Are you concerned about the number of calls that are not being answered as best they can be?
You need Call Tracking Excellence.
For the cost of a less than one cleaning per week, you could have your phones being answered much much better….
Last weekend Jayne and I presented a seminar with a guest speaker in Melbourne for over two hundred and forty attendees.
We decided to use the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre where we were professionally looked after from start to finish by an experienced and well credentialed team of professionals, both during our lead up time and also upon the day of our event.
In contrast, at the hotel where we stayed, nearby to the Convention Centre, we experienced some major service defects.
Now let me state clearly this was not the Westin Hotel in Melbourne where we usually stay and are always very well looked after by the courteous and professional team there.
We chose our accommodation on this trip purely for its location and its convenient access to the Convention Centre.
Upon arrival, on the Friday afternoon, we checked in to the hotel and our room and then headed straight across to the Convention Centre to inspect our meeting room and become orientated with its location and the nearby facilities and amenities.
When we returned to our hotel room an hour after our initial check in, we were surprised that our luggage that had been collected from us at the hotel entrance at our time of arrival had not made its way to our room.
So I phoned guest services on the hotel room phone and my call went straight to an on-hold recording, where I listened for a long time to a pre-recorded message about the hotel.
In fact, it was such a long time, that I decided it might have been quicker to dial the hotel on my personal phone and hope to somehow get ahead of my place on hold. Which I then did!
So I listened to the message in stereo!!
Finally my initial on-hold call was answered and our luggage was organised to be brought to the room.
There was no apology and no explanation as to why there had been such an unwanted delay with our luggage.
A one-hour delay on the luggage was totally unacceptable.
The next day, following our conference, when we returned to our room, Jayne and I found that we both were in possession of de-activated room key cards.
So down I went to reception to get the cards reactivated.
Of course, I didn’t think that I would need some photo I.D. to have my room keys re-issued.
Interestingly while waiting a while in line to be served, it did not dawn on me that the reason I was waiting to be served was that one of the two receptionists on the counter was dealing with a phone call….
And the other receptionist was indeed dealing with a live customer checking in.
When I checked out of the hotel the following day, I noted the same thing. That is, that one of the three receptionists that morning was dealing with the telephone rather than with the line of human beings waiting patiently in front of them.
It was at this point that I realised that at the Westin [where we usually stay, but did not THIS TIME], the check in staff are there specifically to help guests checking in and departing.
At the Westin, the phones are answered away from the front desk.
The second flaw of my weekend in Melbourne occurred at the breakfast restaurant on the Sunday morning.
Throughout the morning, there was always a long line of people waiting to be served, which meant that restaurant supplies of food as well as utensils and cutlery were always going to beat a premium.
And at a premium they were.
Tea cups were not available. Only mugs.
If you wanted a glass for your juice, there were not any. And when they did finally arrive, they were hot.
Straight out of the dishwasher.
Not ideal for serving cold juice into.
Plates too were at a premium. And were also hot. In fact they were so hot, you needed mittens to use them to serve your food.
Not OK if you are serving yourself cold cuts.
This Sunday morning there certainly seemed to be a gross under-estimation of supply of crockery, glassware and utensils needed to satisfy this significant number of patrons.
Having red hot glasses and plates that inflicted second degree burns to diners is unacceptable.
What are our dental lessons here?
I visit dental practices around Australia and around the world where their stock of hand instruments and drills is insufficient to cope with the number of dental patients being seen.
Having to wait for instruments to come out of the autoclave at branding iron temperatures is not a good way to run and operate a dental practice.
The cost of having sufficient numbers of instruments so that your dental practice is never waiting for the autoclave to finish is minimal compared to the negative impression your patients have of you and your practice because of the defects present in your instrument supply chain.
You need to have enough instruments available at all times.
Or you need to be scheduling in a smarter way.
Similarly, when you have your front office team multi-tasking with phones and real live patients at the same time, they won’t do either task well.
And so defect signal messages start to be transmitted to your patients about your practice.
“Why am I on hold for so long?”
“Why am I waiting here to pay you while your staff are on the phone in front of my face?”
Surely this was not the first time that this hotel had experienced an oversupply of breakfast patrons [and a subsequent service meltdown] at its Sunday morning breakfast sitting?
It cannot have been the first time that this sort of numbers had turned up there for breakfast?
It amazed me to think that this hotel was serving up this sort of poor service as acceptable.
Acceptable it was not.
At your dental practice do you have poor systems and protocols that you are serving up to your patients hoping that they accept them and don’t really notice?
Because they will.
And for some it will be unacceptable…
Linda Miles is presenting in Sydney Australia this Saturday August 10.
Don’t miss this once in a life-time opportunity to see and hear Linda speak first hand…