One of my sincere dislikes when dining out at a restaurant is being served something a certain way without being asked whether I would like it served another way.

Now, some people may say that I am being picky, or finnicky, but if it’s not too much trouble, and could possibly be beneficial to the restaurant, I think that the least the staff at the restaurant could do is ask?

The trouble is, that often, the staff do what they’ve been trained to do.

And they don’t do anything that nobody has taken the time to show them as being a valued alternative.

Recently, my wife and I dined at a local restaurant that had marketed itself as being a gin bar.

And although we asked for our gin to be served in a glass with the tonic water brought in a bottle to be added by us, the beverages were brought to us served as gin and tonic together, along with an apology for not following instructions.

The thing is that a lot of bars now like to hide the “quality’ of their beverages by smothering them in an avalanche of ice cubes that fill the glass to the brim, and then drown the contents in additive, and hope that the customer doesn’t mind.

Only recently, at a restaurant, did a waiter listen to our request of two gin and tonics, served with two or three ice cubes and a dash of tonic water in both. And one with a lemon, and one with a lime.

And it’s really not that difficult. And it doesn’t take any more time either?

[It takes a ship load less time than making two lemon, lime, and bitters…. just saying]

It’s the same with being served bottled beer.

Some may say that it is uncouth to sit in a restaurant and drink beer from a bottle, but if God had not wanted us to do so, he’d have made the edges of the mouth of the bottle serrated and so sharp that a quick sip would leave third degree lacerations requiring a hospital visit for suturing.

And despite the fact that a diner physically can drink beer from a bottle, I always ask my waiter whether such primitive behaviour is allowed in their establishment.

However, for the life of me, I can’t understand the logic or the science involved in transferring an ice cold beverage from a refrigerated bottle into a warm room temperature glass, that possibly could have even come from a hot dishwasher cycle, or worse still, had been sitting up in a cupboard for a number of hours where insects of all varieties might have been running laps up and down the lengths of its sides….

And frankly, if I do choose to enjoy my cold beer from the bottle, rather than be served the cold beer into a warm room temperature glass shaped like an old vegemite jar, then I’ve saved the restaurant staff from having to wash up and dry one extra glass?

And that’s got to be good for the ozone layer? Or global warming?

But above all of this ecological grandeur, it’s nice as a paying customer to be asked when ordering, whether I’d like a glass with my [bottled] beer, rather than to be just presented with the ceremony of watching someone perform the painstakingly slow pouring of the cold beer into the warm glass, right there in front of me, and delay me from the thirst quenching enjoyment of that ice-cold beverage.

It’s actually quite cruel.

At the dental surgery it can be quite different…

With the cold beer, and with the gin, the patron isn’t asking the server to perform their duty in some painstakingly abnormally contorted position that could result in a life-long injury to their spinal cord.

But in the dental surgery, patients believe that as the paying customer, it is their God-given right to ask the dentist to do their fine detailed workmanship while being contorted, just because the patient doesn’t “like” having the dental chair lied down.

Actually, the patient’s request is often totally invalid, because I’m sure at night time, these same patients sleep in a bed with their body lying in the horizontal?

And a dentist who “doth protest” is often seen to be unreasonable?

Why is that?

Would you ask a fine artist to paint a portrait of you while standing on one leg with his left arm tied behind his back and only looking through one eye?

Every time that that you visited that artist for your sittings?

Of course you wouldn’t.

And I’m sure if you were having delicate cataract surgery on your eyes, or microsurgery on your spinal cord, you wouldn’t ask the surgeon to operate in a position that would be uncomfortable and impractical for them?

Some things in customer service are reasonable requests for customers to ask, and other things are less than reasonable.

So let’s make sure as dentists, that we prioritise our own posture and our long term health ahead of patients’ short term requests, and educate them as to the reasons.

And if the patient chooses to then go somewhere else for their dentistry, you’re definitely going to be physically better off, and probably mentally better off as well.

Because sometimes, what seems like a “reasonably simple request” is not that “reasonable” at all…


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