Beware the Threat of Complacency

By Roger P. Levin, DDS


Orthodontics is a relationship business. If you provide great customer service while delivering excellent results, then parents (and adult patients) will tell their friends and family about their experience. I find that most orthodontists and team members do a good job of making parents and patients feel connected to the practice.

But it’s not always easy. There are days when everything goes wrong––patients are late, a co-worker goes home sick, the computers crash, etc.––and it takes every bit of training, know-how, and composure to maintain that high level of customer service.

However, there exists an even greater threat to your customer service than the random bad day––and that is complacency. It can happen to the best of teams. People know their jobs and they get comfortable. Even the best employees, including the doctor, may be tempted to put it on cruise control.

One day blends into the other, and one family into the other, and before you know it, the great customer service your practice is known for, starts to slip.

Here are three ways to give complacency the boot:

  1. Mix It Up. Being proficient is a good thing; going through the motions not so much. Prevent complacency from getting a foothold in your practice by mixing things up. Use these examples as a starting point: 
    • If the office manager always runs the monthly staff meeting, assign another team member, or hold a drawing to see who can be next month’s host.
    • If you always hold monthly staff meetings in the office, go outside for the next one or have it at a restaurant.
    • If you always run the same type of patient contests, brainstorm and come up with some new ideas.
         It can be small things or big things. It can be a temporary change          or a permanent one. A little variety is a powerful antidote for                  fighting boredom and complacency.
  1. Hold a Practice Improvement Meeting. There’s always room for improvement no matter how successful your practice is. Ask every team member to make a list of at least five improvements that the practice should make. As part of this assignment, every team member should pretend to be a parent or patient and examine the office from that perspective.

    Give the team a month to come up with their ideas and suggestions. Use the morning meetings to remind them about the assignment. During the improvement meeting, all team members should present their ideas freely without criticism.

    Hold a follow-up meeting to choose the best ideas and come up with an implementation plan. Then assign them to the appropriate team members. All improvements should come with deadlines. Check progress at future meetings.
  1. Surprise Your Team. Even the best leaders take their staff members for granted occasionally. After all, you’re busy caring for patients, interacting with referring doctors, and running a practice. You thank your team and praise them for the quality work they do, which is what you should do but even that can become routine. Sometimes, you’ve got to go the extra mile and surprise your team. Take them to lunch unannounced or even better treat them to a dinner at a nice restaurant out of the blue. After a crazy stretch, hand out gift cards to a favorite store. Let your team know––in word and deed­­––that you truly appreciate what they do for the practice. In the battle against complacency, you must lead the fight!


The downfall of many once-great practices has been complacency. Because once it gets into the office, it eats away at every system until the practice is but a hollow shell of itself. Don’t let that happen to your office. Use these techniques to keep your team engaged and to keep complacency at bay.

Attend Dr. Levin’s new ortho seminar, Building the Ultimate Ortho Practice tuition-free. Ask your Ortho2 Regional Manager how you can receive an Educational Grant. Go to to see dates and locations for all ortho seminars in 2017.

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