The power of good customer service is contagious

Dec. 14, 2010
A patient's interaction with us in person or by phone, whether postive or negative, directly impacts the type of service we provide to this individual. Natalie Kaweckyj, 2010/2011 president of the American Dental Assistants Association, reminds fellow dental assistants that good customer service is contagious.

For many of us, the end of the year wreaks havoc on our schedules and psyches. ‘Tis the season for office goodies, which can lead to the sudden dental emergency at the end of a very busy day when the team thought they couldn’t squeeze in one more appointment. For others, it is the hustle and bustle of finding that perfect gift or hosting the perfect party, and for those trying to visit family, it is the hassles of holiday travel and not expecting the unexpected.

I had the opportunity to participate once again in Wreaths Across America at Arlington Cemetery on Dec. 11. Members of the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA) from all over the United States participated, and others participated in their home states. While enjoying the relatively warm temps on the east coast, the Midwest was hammered with the “snowstorm of the century.” The ripple effect of the storm was felt worldwide as flight schedules were disrupted, football games were relocated, and people were becoming disgruntled at alarming rates. For those like me who like to “people watch,” it was an event not to be missed!

Dental assistants practice their customer service skills on a daily basis, whether they’re in sales, clinical assisting, administration, or education. Sometimes something little an assistant says or does can impact a patient’s perspective about the dental practice or the profession. Word of mouth can do a lot for a practice in terms of referrals and long-term patients.

My homebound airline plans were canceled this weekend, which allowed me an opportunity to observe various degrees of customer service in an industry outside dentistry, yet it also allowed me to draw parallels to our profession. Those who were rude and unsmiling received minimal service, while those who were patient and polite received better assistance. Fast forward to your dental practices and patients who like particular appointment times that are not available for many weeks. A patient’s interaction with us in person or by phone, whether positive or negative, directly impacts the type of service we provide to this individual.

Answering the phone with a smile will convey a positive demeanor to patients no matter how unsmiling one may feel. For the assistant working chairside, a smile can often warm the coldest hearts. By actively taking an interest in a patient and making him or her feel at ease may make an appointment go smoother. Students always remember an instructor who impacted their education and future career goals — in most cases, the instructor showed an interest in the students and had confidence in their success. The assistant in sales is more successful at meeting goals when exuding confidence and a positive manner.

The stress of busy schedules and lack of time has many of us wound tightly during this time of year. Take time to de-stress, find something positive in every situation, and know you are not alone in feeling frazzled. Networking with other dental assistants may offer solutions to inefficiency and provide an outlet for being heard and understood. As a resolution for the New Year, why not become more involved in your professional association? We at ADAA have something for everyone at any stage of his or her career. For those of you who may not be a member, check us out at

I wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season with safe and uninterrupted travels! Happy Holidays to all!

Natalie Kaweckyj, LDA, RF, CDA, CDPMA, COA, COMSA, MADAA, BA
President, American Dental Assistants Association 2010 – 2011