Commentary: Will you give basement-level client care?


The dentist's chair: That's where I was when the tornado sirens sounded recently. The situation was most unpleasant. It's not like my jaw was numb and the drill was spinning. I was only in for a cleaning. Still, I can think of more comfortable places to be when disaster literally looms in the air.

The nonstop siren wail had me particularly on edge because of the tornadic destruction faced by our neighbors in Joplin, Mo., and nearby cities. The dental hygienist could sense my fear.

And that's where this story gets strange. I seemed to be the only one bothered. The hygienist said, "Dr. M. would literally work through a tornado."

I replied that I'm skittish about severe weather. I grabbed my smartphone to check my weather app and saw a text from my husband. It said he and his colleagues had taken cover in the basement. With this news, the hygienist went to check with the receptionist. I followed. The woman at the desk said she'd heard from her husband and he said we didn't need to worry; the tornado was 14 miles away.

That's still too close for comfort in my book. And the hygienist could tell. She asked if I'd like her to take me to the basement. "Yes!" On our way down, we met people coming up. They said security wasn't requiring us to seek shelter because the tornado was far away.

Back I went to the chair for scratching and polishing accompanied by sirens. Then a yell: "There's a tornado in Mission Hills." Apparently three miles was close enough, so we all headed to the basement. We were subterranean for 15 minutes. When we emerged to a siren- and damage-free world, the hygienist mercifully said my teeth were clean and I could go. Then she hugged me.

What a strange client experience. I was miffed at the dental team as a whole. Their groans about getting behind schedule didn't matter to me as I envisioned getting swept up in a twister. But the hygienist's hug did matter. As did her willingness to buck the team and take me downstairs because that's what I wanted. This proves one team member truly can make a difference to a client. Will you be that team member?

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