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Wednesday, May 18 2011
 "I need to refer you to an endodontist." (That's a root canal specialist.) Not my favorite words to hear during my regular dental check-up. Now I've had root canals before and - dare I say it - I don't find them as horrific as people think they are: not really that painful at all, more of an unpleasant sensation.

But still, it's not the way I'd choose to spend an hour on a Monday morning.

My endodontist, who has treated me several times, is a delightful lady with a great chairside manner. If anyone has the misfortune to need a root canal, I would recommend her, based on my experiences which have been consistent the few times I've visited her office.

As I left her office after my treatment, she came up to the front desk with me, thanked me for coming in, and told me to be sure to call if I had any problems. As far as I was concerned, I was done with her office this time around. I wasn't planning another visit any time soon.

Imagine my surprise when two days after my treatment, I got a handwritten thank you card from her, signed by her personally, and enclosing a gift card to a local coffee shop.

I was surprised because, with one exception, I have never received any kind of acknowledgement or thank you from a dentist, doctor, attorney, accountant or other professional - I've given them my money and never heard a peep from them. The one exception stands out because it was so unusual.

And by taking that action, she stood out too.

I was already a fan. That little step has made me a fan for life because I felt valued as a patient. Beyond my confidence in her expertise, that little gesture made me FEEL different about her.

Having a root canal is not something I plan to do regularly! She knows that too. But in her handwritten note, she expressed the hope that I would feel comfortable enough with how I was treated in her office, to refer friends and family to her.

I often suggest to my clients that they find little ways to "glue clients to them for life." This is one of those little ways. Given that she offers a high-ticket service, if I refer only ONE patient to her, her investment in a greeting card, a first-class stamp and a gift card, will pay off enormously.

Usually my clients come back at me with: "Yes, but I'm in a business where people don't come back regularly. Why should I go to the trouble and expense of doing something to keep them attached to me?"

If that's your stance, re-read the above story.

Will I refer anyone who needs a root canal to my endodontist. You bet!

Copyright 2011 Maggie Dennison. All rights reserved.

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Maggie Dennison, M.A

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