By Roger P. Levin

Research indicates that on a scale of 0 to 10, the average orthodontic practice scores between a 6 and 7 in customer service. This isn’t too surprising as orthodontic practices are often working from behind in pleasing parents and patients before they even arrive. Parents don’t like to wait…. they don’t always like the appointments that they’re offered. ..they don’t like to take their kids out of school…. and they certainly don’t like paying bills. 

To help change parents’ attitudes on what already seems like an annoying experience, practices must have an outstanding and extraordinary customer service system. So while scoring a 7 out of 10 for customer service may seem OK, it’s not. In today’s highly competitive world of orthodontics, a 7 is not acceptable to maintain the high level of referrals that every orthodontist would like to have. You need to be a 9 or a 10. So how do you get there? 

Effective customer service isn’t just about being nice or having a great attitude. It’s a system—a step-by-step set of documented guidelines that must be followed in order to reach the right result. Once you design an effective customer service system, it needs to be carried out by the team on every patient, every time. 

So what’s your customer service score?  

After working with over 4,400 orthodontic practices since 1985, I can tell you that the data indicates that orthodontic practices typically score themselves 2 points higher than they really are. If you think you’re a 10 you’re probably an 8, but if you think you’re an 8, you’re probably a 6. 

Still not sure where you land on the customer service scale? 

When people experience extraordinary customer service, they tend to accept treatment, pay their bills, and proudly refer others. If 90% of new patients accept treatment in one appointment with follow-up, your collection rate is 99%, and your patients constantly refer others, then you’re probably at a 9 or 10. Otherwise, you’re probably scoring closer to that 6 or 7 we consistently hear from patients.  And while earning a 7 on a math test is enough to pass you along to the next level, it’s not nearly enough for the kind of customer service that will lift you to the next level in your orthodontic practice. Start today to create an effective customer service system to help get you the 9 or 10 you need for orthodontic practice success. OP

Roger P. Levin, DDS is the CEO and founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and over 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the U.S. and around the world. To contact Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit or email [email protected].