Recently I wrote about a friend of mine who had his long-held appointment at his dentist cancelled on him by the dental office with only a few days of notice. And due to a labour crisis, the dental visit was then rescheduled for another six months down the track.

The labour shortage had dictated that rescheduling my friend, their patient, this was going to be the most suitable option for this dental office.

It’s an interesting concept, because the appointment with the dental office was related to the “health of the patient”. My friend was then wondering since it was now going to be twelve months between dental visits, whether he needed to visit the dentist on a six-month basis at all, or whether annually would be sufficient, moving forwards?

I know that motor vehicles that have reached five years in age require annual inspections to ensure those vehicles are roadworthy.

And most of the time a good vehicle will pass the inspection with “a clean bill of health”.

So could we bump out motor vehicle inspections to every twenty-four months?

Or is an annual vehicle check requirement part of a subliminal plan to keep the general public more attuned to a more consistent safety regimen?

After all, more can go wrong in a two year period than in a one year period, so when we think of cars, early detection would be more prudent, wouldn’t it?

Does the same thought apply then to dental office preventive care visits?

Should it?

Would it be OK for dental visits to be scheduled less frequently?

The thought that came to mind for my friend, with his dental appointment being rescheduled upon him, was the question of how much notice is sufficient notice when cancelling and rescheduling appointments, and what sort of time frame is considered insufficient notice?

I told my friend that as coaches, we have dental practice clients who bill their patients when those patients fail to attend their appointments, or cancel an appointment  without providing sufficient notice.

And we often wonder how that plan is working for them?

Because if this financial punishment was working as a deterrent, then the financial penalty would not even need to exist anymore, would it?

What would be the definition of “insufficient notice” when cancelling or rescheduling a dental appointment?

Is it rude and insufficient for a client or patient to reschedule a morning appointment by sending an email message or leaving an answer-machine message the night before, knowing full well that the office won’t receive the message until the morning of the appointment, and are probably already prepared and waiting for the client?

In the case of businesses rescheduling clients or patients at short notice, is it appropriate to do so considering that the client may have had the appointment for months and organised a whole lot of other things to do or not do around that appointment, as a result of having due consideration for that appointment?

And where is the line?

Is giving less than forty-eight hours advance notice unacceptable when rescheduling or cancelling appointments, but giving fifty hours advance notice is sufficient, because it’s more than forty-eight hours?

An appointment made is an appointment kept

Shouldn’t an appointment made be an appointment that is kept?

Isn’t an agreement to keep an appointment just as important as any other agreement?

Shouldn’t your word be your word?

When it comes to making appointments, and keeping them?

Sure, there will be times when emergency events will arise, but putting it bluntly, people and organisations only make and keep appointments that they value.

And they will break and cancel and reschedule and put off appointments that they do not value.

In the making of appointments, it is imperative that all parties understand fully the purpose of the appointment, and the value of keeping that appointment, and any flow on consequences of failing to keep that appointment.


Dr. David Moffet BDS FPFA CSP is a certified CX Experience coach. David works with his wife Jayne Bandy to help SME businesses improve their Customer Service Systems to create memorable World Class experiences for their valued clients and customers. Click here to find out how David and Jayne can help your business