An Unlikely Match: A Root Canal and Superb Customer Service

Root canal. The two words bring a shudder down your spine. It’s a procedure that brings to mind pain, discomfort, and a long extended period with your mouth open. 

Recently, I was punched with the news I had to have my root canal ‘retreated’. Without showing my dental ignorance, it was shared that the crown covering one of my back molars was loosening, causing some plaque build up underneath the crown. With the crown covering a root canal, the plaque was doing it’s best to wreak havoc with my teeth. Wonderful!!!

The 1st root canal experience was years ago, but memory doesn’t conjure up a gleeful time of celebration and rejoicing. Now, here I was, face to face with a redo of the root canal. Ugly. 

On the way to the root canal procedure, I secretly hoped my car would break down, or maybe I’d receive a call that the doctor had to reschedule — anything to spare me from a tooth procedure which doesn’t get a high Net Promoter Score. 

Despite my consistent prayers and wishes for mayhem, my car stayed in one piece and I made it to Dr. Shell’s office in Westlake off 2244. Much to my disappointment, the elevator was working and the stairs weren’t closed for maintenance. This was happening. Gulp. 

Dr. Shell’s staff immediately disarmed my anxiety, greeting me warmly and offering me water while I tried to flip through magazines to keep my mind off of what was to come. After a short wait, I consulted with Dr. Shell and staff. Dr. Shell calmed my urge to sprint away from the facility faster than Usain Bolt by educating me about: 

  1. The state of my teeth and
  2. What was about to happen

In a world where medical professionals always seem rushed and halfway to their next appointment, it was comforting to see Dr. Shell take the time to show patience and concern for a procedure that has the allure of speaking in front of 10,000 people about a topic where you are blissfully ignorant. 

After discarding every possible excuse I could fathom in my mind (my dog got called in for an emergency surgery, my child’s been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, my Powerball number hit), I reluctantly agreed to my 2nd – and hopefully last root canal procedure. 

Thankfully, Dr. Shell and his associates were thorough, careful and precise throughout the procedure. Over the course of the hour of sitting in the chair I counted sheep, pondered the wonders of gravity and prayed my anesthesia wasn’t about to wear off. 

Post-procedure, Dr. Shell recapped what he did, answered my questions (there weren’t many) and outlined postoperative care. Mission accomplished. 

If you run a business, you can learn a few things about how Dr. Shell turned a non-popular, but essential specialty (root canals) into something that has me telling others about his exceptional customer service. 

  1. He knows his craft. Before the procedure, he shared what he was going to do and why it was necessary. I felt comforted knowing how the next hour of my life in the dental chair was going to proceed. Your business might be law, a restaurant, or selling software, but you need to make the customer comfortable, not anxious, fearful, or weary. Know what value you introduce into your customer’s life and why it’s essential in their world.

  2. His staff embodied everything important in running a customer service business. When a customer walks in the door, the marketing of your establishment begins. And it continues when you make a follow up phone call the next day to check on patient wellness. Marketing extends far beyond logos, website design, and a catchy slogan. It is customer experience, training, packaging, staffing — it is the holistic and all-encompassing relationship you have with your customers. Don’t neglect the details. If you do, your customer can and will find someone else to do the job. 

And finally, if you are lucky enough to need a root canal 😉 — Dr. Shell and team are the best. 

Until next time, 

Dan Naden

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