The Ritz-Carlton vs. The Ritz Cracker: How Does Your Dental Office Customer Service Measure Up?

Earlier this year, the executive team from All-Star Dental Academy  had the pleasure of attending the Seattle Study Club Symposium (their big annual dental meeting) held at the Ritz-Carlton, in Amelia Island, Florida.

If you have ever had the pleasure of visiting one of the beautiful Ritz-Carlton properties in the US or abroad, you are truly lucky.  The Ritz has become the pinnacle of luxury and the epitome of top customer service in the hospitality industry.

Every single detail at the Ritz is carefully thought out; from the employee’s uniforms (which are more like designer suits), to the tiny hand cloths in the bathroom, and everything in between. Every aspect of your visit has been considered for its appeal.

I noticed that every time I visited the ladies room, every single roll of toilet paper was delicately folded into that little point.  It seemed like as soon as I left the room and peeked back in, there was that little point folded neatly again, as if I had never even been there.  I jokingly would tell my colleagues that I thought they must have hired little bathroom elves to sneak in and perfectly fold the bathroom tissue after each use.

Every single interaction with the employees felt like I was being greeted by warm and welcoming family members into a luxurious home.  I enjoyed lunch with my husband at the hotel Café 4750 on several occasions, and was impressed more and more each time by the level of service.  Even our experience in the gift shop was stellar, and every employee, whether they were helping us or not, always smiled and gave a genuine “hello.”

As you can probably gauge, no detail is overlooked at the Ritz-Carlton. Every single person that steps onto their property is made to feel like royalty.  And because their level of service is un-paralleled, they can charge a premium for your stay.  They rarely discount their rates or run specials because these will devalue their services and brand.  The dental industry’s equivalent is a top-notch fee-for-service office.

When it comes to customer service in your dental practice, how do you measure up?  Are you at the apex of service like The Ritz-Carlton, or do you crumble and fall apart like a Ritz Cracker?

If your answer was the latter, it would be highly beneficial for you to take a close look at several factors that can significantly impact a patient’s impression of your office.  Aside from the obvious qualities such as skill of the dentist, marketing messages, the office atmosphere/employee attire, and the office’s services and amenities, here are the three biggest items to evaluate from a customer service standpoint:

The 3 C’s of Customer Service:

  • Consistency is the key with anything that you do. You can’t have one person that provides outstanding customer service, while the rest of your team is only mediocre.  Make sure every single team member, manager, and dentist are all at the top of their game and perform consistently every time; no exceptions.

How do you ensure this?  Have your office processes systematized and make sure these systems are written down so everyone knows the routine.  Regular role play, training, and practice will be the most important aspect of keeping these systems of consistency in place.

  • Communication is a major component of having a top service oriented practice. Many times when a patient gets upset or doesn’t have a 5-star experience, it’s because there is a breakdown in communication that occurred somewhere along the line.  There are many opportunities for miscommunication in the patient experience, such as discussions of insurance, a lack of understanding of recommended dental treatment, payments and costs, scheduling, phone service, or any number of other things that come up. Communication between the entire team and the patient is critical.

Again, training is paramount when it comes to communication.  Whether it is communication between the dentist and management/team, the front office and the back office, the team and the patient, nothing can get lost in translation.

Monthly team meetings (at a minimum) will help get everyone on the same page.  This isn’t a time to vent and complain; this is a time to workshop areas of improvement, and then come up with solutions.  The best-of-the-best teams, whether it is in the hospitality industry or dental field, hold morning huddles where the team reviews the business for the day, goes over goals, discusses upcoming cases/patients, and gets the day started on a positive and motivating note.

  • Compassion, or having empathy, is the ability to understand and share the feelings of someone else. Most patients come to your office because they have a problem that needs fixing.  It’s our job to help as much as possible to ease their discomfort and help them feel better.

The part of the word compassion that stands out to me when working with offices on customer service is the word “passion.”  The people that provide the best service and empathy are typically the ones that are outstanding performers in the office.  They take pride in their job and they have a winning attitude for service.

With everything else we discussed, attitude will, by far, make or break your practice.  You could have the most beautiful office, the top amenities, the best labs, the most knowledgeable employees, etc., but if the attitude of the dentist, management, and employees is poor, so too will your “bottom line.”

All of these 3 major factors start with the very first phone call with a new patient…and it carries over into everything you do.  At All-Star Dental Academy, we teach a systematic approach to establish a Ritz-Carlton-LIKE phone mentality with every patient you connect with. We also teach how to build rapport, improve communication, and effectively schedule converted patients.

To learn more about All-Star Dental Academy, call Heather at (954) 323-2220 or email

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