Denta +: A Case
Study in Exceptional Customer
people think of Russia as the land of bureaucracy, and
poor service and quality. However, the Denta+ team, Omsk,
Russia, has much to teach most businesses about how to
“wow” customers. Denta+ is more than a dental
clinic, Denta+ provides clients with not only exceptional
service but also a “memorable experience.”
The firm is not just world class in providing dental care
and interventions, it is also world class in providing a
dental experience—very different from the typical
dental facility around the world. Most lack a sense of
“Wow! This is an enriching place.”
Discovering the Virgin Air and Starbucks of
I discovered Denta+ while working with nonprofit and
small enterprises in the far east of Russia for an
international aid group. I was asked by my host, Ira, to
do a consultation with the best friend of the family I
was staying with, a dental clinic owner, Nadya Kiseleva.
We thought I could provide customer service and client
experience improvement recommendations. We were wrong.
After I arrived, I was “wowed” within five
minutes. I thought, “I’ve discovered the
Virgin Airline of dentistry”— a model of
Denta + provides various services but also offers an
experience. The customer pays for a set of intangible
activities, services, that are performed for him or her
but also experiences a series of “wowing” and
enjoyable events that the firm stages. These events
engage the customer in a personal way.
I requested that my experience be that of an actual
client or patient. We were greeted by a smiling
receptionist who, since our shoes were dirty and wet from
snow, presented us with foot covers. Then she asked if
she could hang up our coats and if we would care for
something to drink and/or eat. (We were provided with
choices of food and drink.) We were then escorted to the
waiting room. I wasn’t asked the “Do you have
the cash” question before I sat down and was given
coffee and tasteful pastries and cookies. I felt caring
as a health care provider ought to make you feel rather
than “getting the cash is our first
The waiting space was a dental and art museum. The
furniture was tasteful and comfortable. It contained
plants, as did most of the rooms. (Such plants improve
air quality by removing potential office pollutants, and
they can also improve people’s moods.)
Experience offerings involve four dimensions: education,
escapist, entertainment, and esthetic. An exceptional
offering involves all four. Denta+ has done
It’s educational dimension involves its
merchandising, informative posters, and staff informing
clients about interventions and products.
The escapist dimension takes the form of being in an
enriching space and having the option to watch TV, watch
a video, or listen to music. The waiting room and dental
furniture are comfortable. This allows the client to
escape from the problems of Russian life. He or she can
also escape the normal waiting boredom.
Also entertaining is the artwork and the waiting space
that contains various dental items that Nadya has
collected during her global education and training.
The clinic is filled with artwork. It ranged from
humorous to tasteful. These are esthetic dimension
examples as is the tasteful furniture, plants, and
furnishings. These are esthetically pleasing for Russian
The work spaces also contains art and plants, as well as
charts, exhibits, models, and professional certifications
to enrich the patient’s knowledge of staff
competencies and skills. Then I was given a performance
of how I would be educated if I were a customer/patient.
The performance was exceptional.
Your experience at Denta+ can be customized in that you
may choose music, video, or TV for your entertainment
while waiting for service.
Denta+ also offers customer surprise. Most people expect
high quality dental services but they don’t expect
a “memorable experience.” They don’t
expect to be able to watch their favorite TV show at the
dentist. They don’t expect to wait for their
appointment in an interesting and comfortable space. I
was expecting uncomfortable seating and a boring space
that I find in most American dental clinics and even
alternative health care practitioners who speak about
treating the whole person. Nadya understands that
it’s important to transcend expectations.
Denta+ is not just in the dental business, it’s
also in the entertainment, education, and “escape
the everyday problems of Russian life” business.
Nadya recognized that people hated going to the dentist.
She recognized that just providing good service
wasn’t the answer. She hit upon the theme of a
dental salon. She designed the clinic to be a relaxing,
entertaining, and enriching place where the customer
would feel better leaving than before entering. She
recognizes the importance of props in conducting a great
performance and work as theater in her use of the model,
graphs, and exhibits. She also understands a great
performance engages the senses to improve the experience.
Props engage the customer visually, thereby augmenting
the verbal and enriching the performance.
Nadya is continuously improving her professional
knowledge, thereby allowing her to improve the
educational experience realm. She shares this knowledge
with her associates and treats customers as if they are
dear friends. She educates her employees in how customers
are to be treated. She is entertaining in her educational
performances. Finally, she had an intuitive sense of the
value of drama.
Denta+ has refreshed its experience through customer
suspense. This can be characterized as changing something
that the customer remembers. The firm wants the customer
to wonder what will be added and/or changed. Denta+
didn’t begin, for example, with its full
entertainment experience menu of video, CD, tape, and
radio. It has added these items through time. There have
been additions to the art, product displays, and museum
items. This staging through time has supported customers
in expecting refreshing experience and yet, not being
actually sure what forms of enrichment will appear. I
experienced this sense of suspense before my return
consulting trip and Denta+ visit. Natasha, my
interpreter, also felt this way. We couldn’t wait
to experience Denta+ again. We wanted to discover what
new additions were being offered or planned for.
Using the experience economy idea requires thinking about
the business as theater. The key questions are:
How can we provide customers with an ongoing
How can we refresh the experience so customers
won’t become bored?
How can we customize our offering so the customer does
not experience customer sacrifice?
Finally, team members must consider themselves actors in
Theater is not a metaphor. It is a way of doing
- Learn about creating exceptional spaces in my
article, “Creating a Learning Room that Works:
Space and Learning,” The Journal for Quality and
- Pine and Gilmore’s site: www.customization.com.
You may reach Bob Holder at HBob372917@aol.com
What is an experience enterprise? What makes an
experience offering different from a service? In The
Experience Economy, Pine and Gilmore suggest there are
five economic offerings that make an experience offering
different from a service. The following bullets
illustrate them. The final is transformational. The
customer is the product. He or she pays the firm for a
specific change or a result.
- Economic Offerings
Denta+ has an exhibit of the firm’s products
and dental interventions, artistic office layout,
entertainment during dental interventions, and education
about dental interventions.
March 2002 News for a