Laid flat on my back in the dentist’s chair the other day, I had an epiphany. I’d gone in for something that required an injection, and we were chatting while waiting for the anaesthetic to take effect. He was telling me that he was coming up to retirement in a few years and wanted to hand over the practice. He had been looking for an apprentice to train and take over in due course, but was finding it difficult to identify someone with the high level of patient care that he – and his patients – would expect from his successor.
We started talking a bit more about that aspect – patient care – and I said to him that the main reason why I’d stuck with him as my dentist was exactly that. I’ve been going there for over 20 years. He told me that he has had many patients for even longer. As we talked more, I said that I was always happy to recommend him to friends for that very reason, as well as for his excellent work. Those two factors meant that I mostly didn’t take other things into consideration. Yes, his surgery is conveniently located and his prices are fair, but his patient care and the quality of his work stand out. As I thought about pricing, it dawned on me that I have no idea if his prices are fair – I simply pay what is asked for and don’t question it. I haven’t bothered to get a second opinion or do any research on what others might charge; I don’t mind, simply because of the high standard of his professional service.
And that got me thinking about professional service providers. Oh we talk a lot about being a trusted advisor – plenty of seminar topics and conversations at global and regional meetings. But how often do we achieve it? Not as much as we would like, for sure. What does my dentist do that makes me such a loyal customer? Well, 20 years of genuine care about my dental health is a good start. I believe that he really wants me to have the best smile possible. And he will do what he can to get there, even if it means foregoing some expensive treatment for something just as efficacious but not as profitable. I believe in him, and that’s surely the definition of a trusted advisor. It’s exactly what we want with our clients and we work hard to achieve that.
As usual, let me know if you have any particular topic you would like to see covered here.
Gary Woollacott is an executive search consultant who works for Horton International in Vietnam, Thailand and Laos. He can be reached at +84 8 3910 7682 or via firstname.lastname@example.org