Stop Scolding Customers.

Because of COVID, a mother wasn’t allowed to sit in the waiting room during her daughter’s last orthodontic appointment. As a result, she received this email: 

“According to our records, ***** has not been to our office since (date) and does not have a future appointment scheduled.  

Routine monthly adjustments are necessary for the proper completion of orthodontic treatment. Without regular visits, we cannot be responsible for complications including, but not limited to dental caries, root resorption, decalcifications, periodontal disease or other dental disease, with possible loss of dentition. 

We realize that life events can complicate your lives and occasionally orthodontic treatment must take second place to other activities, but we urge you to please call our office to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. 

We look forward to seeing ***** soon.”

A few observations.

First, you never get very far scolding your customers. That stern, finger-wagging approach sends a clear message about how they view their patients.

Second, they don’t even acknowledge the impact of COVID nor their own failure to remind this patient to schedule a followup appointment before she left.

Third…pretty much that whole second paragraph. “Let’s rattle off a bunch of terms that no one knows to make it sound as ominous (and us as smart) as possible.” Whatever they believe they’re accomplishing, they’re wrong.

Fourth, instead of making the parent to call the office, why not just call the parent? Maybe try to make it easier for them to schedule that appointment instead of scolding them.

Fifth, the little statement at the end that attempts to be friendly is utterly undermined by the lecture that precedes it. It feels absolutely false and lands with a thud.

We spend so much time thinking about the messages we craft to win prospects. This is a great reminder to look at all the ways you communicate with people after they become your customers.  

Does your tone still match the way you talked to them when they were prospects you were trying to woo? How do you make them feel when you send them necessary communication? Are you reminding them of why they chose you…or making them wonder why they ever did?