Do you ever wonder why there are still middle seats on most flights? In a recent trip, I remembered the frustration boarding an overbooked flight and getting seated on the middle seat on the plane. The fact that most planes are a large sardine can stuffing as many people as possible takes away all the joys of travel. The airline business is the prime example of what can go wrong in a business culture. The service erodes, and with new travel bargain websites, the race to the bottom is in full effect. It wasn’t always this way. Many newer, nimble, airline companies are realizing that great service does not have to add incredible expense. By purchasing long, skinny planes, some airlines are getting rid of the least popular seat: the middle seat. There is a way to improve the flight experience outside of purchasing first class tickets. Soon, domestic flights continuing to force customers into the middle seat will perform what is equal to economic suicide.
Consider that the middle seat is a service or product a business offers that people don’t want, but are coerced to accept anyway. On a plane ride, all seats arrive at the same destination, but the experience sure varies. Seat selections often leave the middle rows to the last minute bookings or stand by passengers. Despite paying a similar fare, it’s a long frustration that many endure in order to make their destination.
Now think of what the middle seat means in orthodontics. Think about the areas of your practice that would be considered the middle seat. Beware of habituation, because most of us have not critically looked at the middle seats we have in our offices: The undesirable appointment times, the appliances patients would prefer to avoid, impressions that gag, separators that hurt, broken brackets, unavailable emergency visits, long wait times, inflexible financial arrangements, extended treatment or inefficiencies that add appointments to treatment. The list can get pretty long if we take the time and courage to critique our process.
Orthodontic treatment isn’t just about the outcome, or “destination,” it’s mostly about about the experience. Whether your service is “first-class” or you serve those who typically ride in coach, think about those middle seats that will not be tolerated in this new economy, and this educated consumer.