I RECENTLY took a cruise from California to Mexico. It was obvious that the cruise line company spent a lot of resources on training their employees to ensure that passengers were well taken care of. Yet, during four days of overwhelming positivity, two instances stood out as negative and memorable — and I’m sure they went unnoticed by the cruise line. Worse, at their core, both instances were related.


First, on the day before disembarking, the steward knocked and asked whether she could put extra sheets and towels in the room. I thought that was a nice gesture, until she said, “Thank you! It’s going to be really busy after you leave, and this will save me some time.”

Next, an announcement explained the disembarking process and timetable. The announcer was pleasant, friendly and gave easy, precise directions. So far so good. Until, “We’d really appreciate it if you stick to the disembarking schedule, since we have less than a day to turn the ship around for our next cruise.”

What? I’m not off the ship yet and you’re already thinking about the next group of passengers?


The key point here is that passengers care about their cruise experience — not the cruise line’s efforts to provide that experience. The same principle applies in our practices.

Patient: “Why do these frames cost so much?”

Optician (bad answer): “Yeah, well our overhead contributes to the cost of frames, and it’s really gone up a lot in the last few years.”

Optician (better answer): “Because they have these 26 amazing features and make you look like a rock star!”

The point — patients don’t care about your overhead costs, like rent, insurance, etc. This is your problem, not theirs.

Other examples include:

  1. Practice anniversaries or events. If your dentist announced an open house to celebrate 10 years of practice, a remodeled office or a new hiring, would you go? For that matter, if your dentist retired and disappeared, would it be life changing for you? Odds are it wouldn’t.
  2. Staff problems. It’s not your patient’s fault that staff showed up late for work, that this is the reason you’re behind schedule, or that a newly hired technician couldn’t get a good OCT image.
  3. Technology problems. “Our edger broke, and your job was delayed.” One, a “job” is what your patient goes to every Monday to Friday. And an “edger?” More importantly — they don’t care why their glasses aren’t ready, but they do care that they aren’t ready!
  4. The success and livelihood of your practice. I hate to be harsh, but comments like, “You shouldn’t buy your contact lenses online because small businesses like ours need to succeed” are inappropriate. I’m not saying they are incorrect, just that patients don’t care. Need proof? How bad do you feel when you buy anything online that you could have bought locally? It’s not your patient’s fault that contact lenses and eyeglasses are available online. Don’t make them feel bad for doing what all consumers do — look for value. OM