Making bad customers pay more


My dentist takes punctuality very seriously. In fact, if you’re late more than a few times, they threaten to make you pay a fee for missing the scheduled appointment. Luckily, I’ve never run into this problem myself, but I can clearly see how the policy helps the office run more efficiently — which benefits the staff and patients alike.

When you think about it, collecting the extra fees really isn’t the point. Instead, the goal is to send a message to the sort of customers who always show up late or can’t keep an appointment. And that message is simple: this isn’t the right place for you, since sticking to your current behavior is going to hurt your ego and your wallet.

Does it work? The office certainly runs efficiently: even a 20 minute wait is unheard of. But more importantly, I’ve seen reviews where other patients praise the on-time policies. By penalizing the bad customers, the office has managed to make the good customers even happier. This leads to more word of mouth, and probably helps bring in even more of the customers they want: those who understand and respect the value of being on-time to their appointments.