To be of service, in business, as business owners, and as employees, we need to be active solvers of the problems that our clients, customers and patients bring to us.

“I need to dig a hole.”

“Which aisle are the cashews in?”

“I’m looking for an outfit for a special event coming up.”

“I need to make an [a dental] appointment.”

These are all legitimate problems that people have that require a solution. The reason someone asks one of these questions is because they are wanting a solution to their problem.

I need to dig a hole.

The hardware store attendant would ask the customer a couple of clarifying questions:

“How big is the hole?”

“How deep is the hole?”

“What are you going to put in the hole? Are you planting something, or building something?”

“Do you need to carry the excavated earth away?”

Depending on the customer’s answers, the store attendant could come up with a number of possible choices for the customer.

Which aisle are the cashews in?

The supermarket employee would answer:

“They’re down here in aisle 5. Let me show you.”

And then the employee would lead the customer directly to the cashews.

And while leading the customer to the cashews, the employee could also ask the customer if there were any other items they were looking for, and whether or not the cashews [or the other items] were for a special event or occasion, maybe?

I’m looking for an outfit for a special event coming up.

The clothing store employee would ask:

“What’s the event?”

“When is it?”

“Where’s it being held?”

“What did you have in mind?”

And then the store employee would come up with a number of suggestions, and spend time with the customer, giving feedback on the outfits suggested….

I need to make an [a dental] appointment.

The dental receptionist who receives a telephone enquiry like this could say:

“I haven’t got anything available until late March, early April.”

“We’re very heavily booked because of COVID”

Here’s a couple of tips:

  • Find out the customer’s name and whether they’ve been to your store before.

Everybody loves to hear their name, and personalising the visit, even if it’s to buy a shovel or a bag of nuts, really does help to break the ice and build some commaraderie.

  • Ask questions that give clarity to what the customer already has, and how soon they need their problem solved

The hole may not need to be dug today.

The outfit may not be needed for another week or two.

And what exactly are they looking to have done at the dentist?

Our aim is to come up with a solution

Our aim is to come up with a solution that is a WIN-WIN for both the customer and also for our business.

Slamming a door in someone’s face is not a win-win result for either party.

Did you notice the GOLDEN RULE?

One of our Golden Rules in customer service is that when a customer is looking to find something, we never point. We always stop what we are doing and we lead our customers to exactly where they need to go.

At Disneyland, it is the janitors and rubbish collectors who receive more enquiries from guests about ride locations, than do other park employees.

And so the janitors and cleaners are trained specifically to stop what they are doing when they are asked directions, and to put aside what they are doing and to LEAD the park guests directly to their ride.

Metaphorically, it is the role of the dental receptionist to help the caller find a solution for their problem they have phoned about.

And that comes down to understanding supply and demand, and knowing how many appointments of varying types are enquired about, and templating the practice’s schedule to accommodate all of those enquiries, rather than just saying the dental equivalent of:

“The line starts here. And the back of the line is way down there.”

Because that sort of comment is far from helpful.

When serving…

If you’re exchanging goods or services for money, then you’re in the SALES BUSINESS.

And selling is serving, as one of my mentors used to say.

And serving is solving.

Problem solving.

When you come up with a workable win-win solution for your customers that exceeds their expectations, you gain a loyal customer for life, who returns, and returns, and tells all their friends and everybody they meet about how good your business was at solving their problem.


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