"But . . . they are free?"

Dr. Brad Harken, a dentist in Spokane, had just sat through my presentation at the American Dental Society’s National Convention. I had some free dental bib chains I wanted to give him.  They are the small chain that has clips on either end, which keep a napkin on your chest while you are having dental work done.  In this case the two chain clips said “Crest” and “Oral B”.   Stay tuned.  Even Proctor & Gamble can get it wrong.

Dr. Brad noted that in his practice they don’t use the metal chains because when you put it around the patients neck the cold metal is harsh on their skin.  “We use plastic instead.”

Now that is paying attention to small things that affect the customer.

He went on to say that they have an art of putting the dental bib on.   “We also fold over the napkins to reinforce it.  We also put the clips close together so there is no gap and the napkin lays flat.”


Like Disney who tells their princess characters to not blink when a picture is taken with a “guest” . . . Dr. Harken is paying attention to the small stuff.

Shouldn’t everyone be that focused on these “micro-events” during the customers experience?   Life changing experiences, are made up of these micro-events.   Most of the time they are transparent to the customer.   But added together, and improved upon, they can make the competition evaporate.  They provide wow.

It is the personal TLC in wedding party favors.

It is the “my pleasure” response at every Chick-fil-A.

It is the lack of metal chains on the back of your neck in the dentist chair.

Even the free stuff is not free if it makes you less valuable.

Take aways.

  1. Look at all the “touch points” with the customer and see how you can make them better in small ways. List them and brainstorm each on how you can make it better.
  2. The “free” stuff you give to your customers and the “free” stuff you get from your suppliers . . . does it add value, or does it make your value less important.
  3. Pay attention to world class organizations and ask, “how could we steal their good ideas and make them part of our business?”

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