5 Things My Dentist Taught Me about Customer Experience
I’m a reluctant dental patient. A very, very reluctant dental patient. There, I said it.
And I’m not the only one. Studies have found that more than 60% of people are afraid of the dentist; the fear is so intense that many of us risk our health by avoiding going all together. It’s one of the only medical decisions people make based not on price or inaccessibility, but because they fundamentally do not want to do it. That’s why fact that I visited my dentist recently has everything to do with the customer experience they create and nothing to do with the fact that my husband told me I needed to grow up and be an adult about it.
Well, maybe a little of both.
As much as we’re loath to admit it, marketing B2B solutions can be as difficult as convincing people to get their teeth cleaned.
The general public tends to consider B2B marketing boring, if not a little painful.
Which is why delighting customers is all the more important.
With such skeptical customers, it’s no surprise that Forrester warns that “the business consumer does not tolerate inconsistent messaging and disconnected content.”
And if dental patients risk cavities by failing to engage, B2B buyers risk nothing more than not giving you their money. It’s here that it becomes clear: Great CX is a business imperative, not a fluffy nice-to-have. And I think my dentist might be the inspiration we all need to step up our game. Here are five lessons we can learn from the best dentist visit I’ve ever had:
1. Do Your Research
From the moment I stepped through the door, the entire staff took the time to learn about me—listening to what I needed rather than simply checking off boxes. I sat in a comfortable chair, not the dental chair, and was seated across from a doctor rather than a laptop-holding nurse punching keys without making eye contact. When they asked me questions, I knew they genuinely cared about the answers. They weren’t just filling out a form. And I noticed.
Marketing Takeaway: We hear it all the time: If you’re not talking to your customers, you’re missing out. But it’s not just about talking—it’s about listening. Hear their pain points and their go-to solutions. Hypothetical persona research is a great foundation, but it’s nothing compared to listening to the stories actual customers tell when interacting with your content.
Here’s the thing: Customers and prospects are telling these stories, regardless of whether you’re hearing them. Where’s the disconnect? The feedback often gets stuck with the lucky folks who actually get to talk to customer on a regular basis—your customer success and sales teams. Find a way to break down the silos and allow these teams to share real customer stories with marketers, whether via a dedicated Slack channel, a monthly forum-style meeting, or an idea queue enabled by your content marketing platform.
2. Treat Customers Like Humans
Your customers are human. (Obviously.) But the way they’re often treated, it can be hard to tell.
And we’ve all probably experienced what it’s felt like to feel less than human in the dentist’s chair. In fact, the chair I was offered when I first came in was one of the first clues that this visit would be different. My initial consultation was in a chair in an office, not in the dentist’s examination room, which let me know they were going to take the time to understand what I needed rather than expedite the process at the expense of my experience.
And this thoughtfulness didn’t stop when I got to the exam room. Each person who came into the room was clearly introduced. I always knew who they were, why they were there, and what task they would complete.
Marketing Takeaway: Do you treat your customers with this level of care? Are they passed from marketing to sales with the smoothness that I was passed from hygienist to x-ray technician? Or are they left to figure out what’s going on for themselves? It’s considerations like this that have vaulted the discipline of empathy marketing into prominence—and rightly so.
3. Create Seamless Alignment Across Every Touchpoint
The positive experience didn’t stop there. While the examination progressed, I was given sunglasses to block the harsh light—which also helped me to appreciate the photos of kittens and puppies playing on the TV above my head—and a warm weighted blanked that had a distinctly calming effect. And the actual exam chair? It was fitted with rollers that gentally massaged my back and shoulders while the staff worked.
As delightful as each individual perk was, the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. It was the continuity of the experience that ultimately made it so pleasant.
Marketing Takeaway: Think of each of your content assets as one of these office perks. How do they each work together to build a cohesive experience for a prospect or customer? Sure, the puppies were nice, but without the sunglasses and blanket, they would have made far less of an impression. Each touchpoint should have the larger experience in mind, working in tandem to leave a lasting impression.
4. Stay in Touch
Not long after my appointment, the office called to check in and ensure my experience was positive. They reassured me that my chart was updated so I wouldn’t need to reshare the information every time. By following up, they made sure our relationship didn’t end when I left the building. Instead, they used my visit as key foundation for a relationship that would grow with time.
Marketing Takeaway: Our jobs don’t end when a prospect becomes a customer. Keep the lines of communication open and invest in customer advocacy to nurture customer relationship and encourage acts of advocacy that more directly link customers to your brand. What’s more, customers are amazing sources of information. Use their feedback to create better content.
5. Leave People Smiling
As if the experience hadn’t been good enough, my dentist had one final surprise: an individual rose —in water!—portable and ready to take home.
Who knew the dentist could be such a charmer?
Marketing Takeaway: Renewal is part of the customer journey. So don’t just create content and customer experiences for the top of the funnel. The journey must be consistent through the closed deal and beyond. Without investing time and effort into projects that will impact renewal and upsell, all the work you put in to acquire a new customer will be for nothing. Do the work first and set your team up to make bigger deals next time around.
None of these things my dentist offered me was required for care. My teeth would have been cleaned just as well without the massage or the rose. Those offers were created for the sole purpose of ensuring that I had a good experience and increase the likelihood that I’d continue to choose this practice above others in the future. My dental practice realized they are competing on CX and chose to invest in it.
I think they invested well.