The title of this article is borrowed with acknowledgement from an email I received this week from Mary Portas and The Portas Agency.

I have copied the email message in its entirety here, because the message is SO, SO IMPORTANT!!!

‘I’ve just spent a month down under, living and rooting myself into the rhythms of different sunny Oz neighbourhoods.

As well as the joy of discovery that new places bring, what meant most to me was the fact that I did absolutely no shopping or perusing online, and that every part of my day was alive. IRL.

From debating whether burrata or mozzarella is a more superior cheese with the red-faced cheese specialist at the food market, to the 23 year old shop assistant telling me, “Wow, you look amazing in that” – when I quite blatantly didn’t – to the hotel manager who greeted me each day with “Hello my lovely” as I cringed and smiled back, or popped into the brilliant beauty store Mecca where I spent a playful half hour testing lipsticks.

It was the friction and interaction that framed my days and memories.

And yet so many businesses have lost the focus and importance of this, they have prioritised the digital world, free from friction and human interaction. They’ve chosen immediacy and availability. And convenient “customer journeys”.

So we move through the shopping experience on autopilot, finding the fastest way from entrance, to checkout, to the exit. Our obsession for operational and technological efficiencies has meant we’ve stripped anything that gets in the way of completing the task.

In short, operating systems are dominating brands.

What all these frictionless brands have forgotten is this. It’s the memorable, physical interactions that stay with us, long after our purchase.

Who remembers and talks about that ecomm experience where you bought a new dress in under five minutes? Not me.

And that’s why, post-Covid, we’re witnessing the biggest investment back into physical retail. Lush publicly committed £10.6 million to its retail network last month, and YSL’s broke a UK record with their £13m per year rent for a six-storey property on Bond Street.

The brands that get it right know how important physical retail is for creating brand recognition and fostering deep emotional connection.

Yes I could buy my next iPhone online, but when people talk about Apple, it’s often about the incredible service at the instore Genius Bar, of having a friendly expert on hand to walk me through my tech queries.

It would be easy for me to buy all my beauty products online, but people continue to flock to the Oz brand, Mecca, for its unbeatable service, music, environment, vibe. Everything about their stores I love.

It would be simpler for me to buy wine with my online grocery order, but I love nothing more than popping down to my local wine shop and being recommended a new favourite by the passionate owner.

Yes, we know that delivery and speed are also important, but the two need to balance.

At Portas, we often talk about the physics and the chemistry of a brand.

The physics is the seamless production and delivery. The chemistry is the subtle magic that elevates a business into something greater. An over-emphasis on the physics means you lose sight of what’s truly at the core of your brand, you lose sight of its heart and soul.

So let’s remember the joy and magic of these human interactions. And in 2024 that’s what’s coming back – thank God.

I leave you with this powerful quote from author Alexander Fury:

“Smelling the air, sensing the fabric, feeling everything. The clothes are the tangible take-home from the experience – like an aide-memoire, or maybe a postcard. Less ‘Wish You Were Here’, more ‘Wish We Were Still Here’. The audience roared their approval, stamped their feet, begged for more.”

Here are the important bits:

‘It was the friction and interaction that framed my days and memories.’

And

‘What all these frictionless brands have forgotten is this. It’s the memorable, physical interactions that stay with us, long after our purchase.

Who remembers and talks about that ecomm experience where you bought a new dress in under five minutes? Not me.’

And

The brands that get it right know how important physical retail is for creating brand recognition and fostering deep emotional connection.’

This message is so important for dental practices.

Sometimes dental practices get so caught up in the bells and whistles of computerisation that they forget that dentistry is the delivery of CUSTOMER SERVICE between a business [dental practice] and a human being [patient/customer].

It’s not about microns and crown margins.
It’s not about online appointments and pop-up messages.

It’s like Mary said:

The dental practices that get it right know how important physical retail is for creating brand recognition and fostering deep emotional connection.’

It’s the face to face human interactions that happen each and every minute in your dental practice that create those eternal bonds that have your patients and customers raving about how wonderful and important that your dental team made them feel, and that there’s no way on earth they would ever consider going to any other dental practice for their dentistry.

As Mary said:

‘Who remembers and talks about that the online appointment booking ecomm experience where they scheduled their next dental appointment?’

I’m guessing nobody is.

Online dental appointment scheduling is not listed as a Top Five Conversation Starter or Ice Breaker…

And if it’s not important to the population of the world, why is online scheduling tech being pushed as having to be so important to the medical and dental professions?

When I want to make an appointment, all I ever want is to have a real live person do it for me.

And I certainly don’t want to open an account with the software provider when I haven’t even decided whether this dental practice will be the right practice for me, especially if I’m yet to meet or attend their practice firstly.

And sure, the use of dental software by some receptionists who manually answer phones and manually schedule appointments also leaves a lot to be desired when we look at and apply the principles of world-class customer service.

It absolutely horrifies me when I hear recordings of phone calls from practices where dental receptionists switch from being friends and problem solvers to becoming data collectors and slot-fillers.

They say to the caller:

“Surname!?”

“First name!?”

“Date of birth!?”

That’s not how you would speak to someone who you just met at a barbeque or a cocktail party?

So why would that line of questioning be even thought of as being acceptable or appropriate on a dental office phone?

As Mary concluded:

‘An over-emphasis on the physics means you lose sight of what’s truly at the core of your brand, you lose sight of its heart and soul.’

I’ve spoken before about the dental assistant [not at my practice] who was watching the appointment book on the computer instead of being in the moment with the patient being treated, and then commented to the dentist, in the most monotone voice you could imagine:

“Your next one’s here”.

So W. R. O. N. G. Wrong.

On so many levels.

Don’t lose sight of the heart and soul of your practice.

Building long term relationships of respect and great service really is the heart and soul of every successful business.

It fosters repeat business and unbridled loyalty.

And respect.

And that’s worth a whole lot more to your business than [supposedly] quicker online booking services….

*****

Need your phones monitored?

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For the cost of a less than one cleaning per week, you could have your phones being answered much much better….

Convert more calls into appointments…Click the link: http://www.calltrackingexcellence.com

Call Jayne on 1300 378 044 or email Jayne@theDPE.com for more details.

*****

Have you read my book , How To Build The Dental Practice of Your Dreams [Without Killing Yourself!] In Less Than Sixty Days.

You can order your copy here: Click Link To Order

*****

The Ultimate Patient Experience is a simple to build complete Customer Service system in itself that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb. If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

Email me at david@theupe.com

 

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