I went to the same dentist my entire life. Until I didn’t. My dentist retired, and he sold his practice. I had been driving over 40 minutes for dental cleanings, so for lack of a better word, I was “watching” this new guy. I wanted to feel that he cared deeply about me and my health and knew what he was talking about when it came to my teeth. Upon the third mix-up from the office related to having the supplies they needed for a mild dental procedure, I decided it was time to walk away.
Except, eek. Finding a new dentist felt overwhelming and daunting. It actually didn’t take me long to find a new dentist. And now it has me wondering why I waited over a year to make a change. When someone cares about you, your wellbeing, and your experience, it’s undeniable. The same is true in our schools and organizations.
When I arrived at Dr. Story’s office, I was a bit surprised that the office wasn’t a big, fairy tale-looking TOOTH-shaped building. What a great name, “Dr. STORY.” Upon arriving in the office, Terri at the front desk said, “Hi, Meghan!” Terri had never met me before but she used my first name! Something about that felt magical. As I looked around, I saw that the office was a prestine level of clean. Not only did it smell clean but even the windows on the inside doors were glistening with not a single smudge to be a found. It was clear from the moment that I stepped into the building that they take great pride in caring for their facility.
Unfortunately, my previous dentist had not taken special care to review my X-rays and as a result, Dr. Story had me come in get a cavity filled that had been left untreated for too long. Again, thank goodness that I found a dentist who took the time to ask for my previous records and reviewed them carefully. When they took me back to the chair, they were careful to explain everything they would be doing and did so again while I was in the chair.
Periodicially, they would offer words of encouragement like, “You’re doing great! We are almost finished with this part.” Additionally, since Dr. Story had taken the time to do a consultation with me, they knew a bit about me, so they would make connections between the stress of this situation and rigorous exercise. “You’ve done workouts that are harder than this. You’re doing great.” That level of personalization truly meant a lot ot me. I wasn’t just another patient. They cared about me. I felt that and evem though I was new to them.
This positive experience reminds me of what Disney uncovered as the four common guest expectations:
- Make me feel special. The receptionist greeted me by name when I walked in the door. I felt as if I was walking into their home for an intimate dinner party, and they were so excited for my arrival.
- Treat me as an individual. I’m sure they don’t talk to every customer about exercise while cleaning their teeth, but they knew this was an interest of mine, so they made connections between my passion and this challenging experience to help me make it through it. They took the time to get to know me.
- Respect me. They took the time to encourage me while I was in a chair and let me know that if at any point I needed a break, I could just raise my hand. This showed a high level of respect for me as a human being (not just a mouth) and also respect for my ability to identify my personal limits and when I had reached those limits.
- Make me knowledgeable. They explained why this procedure was time sensitive and also every aspect of the procedure both before, during, and even what to expect afterward. This not only made me more informed but relieved my anxiety.
Our schools are no different. These common guest expectations are true for students, parents, and internal customers too. Whether we choose to acnknowlege it or not, we are all in the customer service industry. The customer service we provide has the power to nourish and accelerate the good work we do, or it can be the detriment of our mission. Adults and children alike yearn to be seen, known, and celebrated for who they are and what makes them uniquely special. Everyone wants to be respected as a human being. And we all are learners are our core, so let’s embrace that and see every moment with people as an opportunity to learn together.
I get fired up talking about creating expriences for people. If you would like to dig deeper, check out one of my previous posts which was written after a trip to Disney World. We can learn so much for industries outside of the field of education. Inspiration is everywhere, but it’s undeniable at Disney.
No matter how large our school, do we know everyone’s name? Can we pronounce them correctly?
Do we take great care in how the front office looks? How about areas where parents may be waiting with young children. Do we offer water or tinker objects and books to keep young minds busy?
Do we greet kids and parents as they walk into school every day?
Do we overcommunicate on a variety of platforms to ensure we are educating people about our vision for the future and where we want to go? People want to be knowledgeable.
These details matter. Some of them may seem small, but they matter in a big way.