Continuity in customer service and what we learn from The Wizard of Oz

One of the greatest continuity errors in the history of film-making appears in The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy meets The Scarecrow.

During their dialogue, her pig-tails alter their length from one camera angle to the next, growing from shoulders to mid-chest and back again – and yet the film was released to the general public without editing (incidentally, the first ever technicolor movie 🍿all those years ago).

It’s more than likely that the entranced audience didn’t even notice back in the day – but nowadays we have an eye for these things and Directors have to be attentive to avoid the ridicule of critics and audiences.

There is equally a need for continuity in a customer service experience, whether I’m ordering my usual meal in a business restaurant, taking a regular commuter journey or visiting your dental practice.

Perhaps even more so when it comes to dentistry, as there is the added stress associated with any issue relating to my health.

That’s why you will hear patients who return to your practice after trying out the corporate competition telling you that the prices may have been cheaper but that they became disheartened/un-nerved by seeing “a different person every time“. Ever heard that?

If we go to a live music gig and the artist announces that she is going to try some new numbers, we politely applaud and wait for it to end so that we can get back to the “greatest hits”.

Now That’s What I Call Music have just released their 101st album because we enjoy predictability – it also gives rise to The Long Tail.

Continuity is one of the reasons that franchises (done well) are amongst the most successful businesses on earth.

If you buy a McDonald’s franchise, you’ll take a residential training course at a real place called Hamburger University. At the end of the course the last thing you will hear is “don’t change anything”.

I don’t expect the unexpected when I visit your dental practice – so please try your very best to make my experience predictable – I like it that way.

We are by nature creatures of habit – we like our routines and visit theme parks and horror movies to expose ourselves to the unexpected.

Continuity is about doing the right thing, at the right time, with the right people – day after day. No surprises.

The Scarecrow may not have noticed Dorothy’s pigtails but your patients will.


Published by

Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.

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