Customer Focus – Lessons from the NFL, Capitalism, and Dentistry

According to Roger Martin, author of the book Fixing the Game, companies can learn a lot from the NFL in order to avoid the out-of-control speculation that lead to our recent financial collapse.  Martin points out that the NFL faced a big challenge as the popularity of football took off in the 1970’s.  The real game of football was shadowed by the expectations game of gambling.

The NFL clearly saw how the pressures of the point spread could destroy the sport.  That led the NFL to clearly separate the real game from the expectations game and develop zero tolerance for players and coaches getting involved with gambling.  The NFL chose to remain accountable to the fan and not the point spread.

Roger Martin believes company executives could learn a lot from the NFL’s focus on the customer.  Instead of answering to the expectations of stockholders and the pressures of future earnings forecasts, which can lead to a disastrous situation, companies need to focus on who buys their product or service.  Answering to customers and not shareholders will help capitalism, according to Martin.

The vast majority of dentists already know this.  Dentists rarely lose their focus on the patient, and most of the steps taken to improve profitability also improve patient care, whether it involves proactive treatment plans or upgrades in technology.

The challenge, though, for dentists and teams is to not let a few tough conversations with patients, who may project their bias that everyone is after their pocketbook, to alter the way they present treatment.  Remember, treatment is recommended based on what is best for the patient.  It’s that customer focus that will keep the practice strong, and hopefully it’s also a philosophy that will influence how all companies conduct business.

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