Wednesday, June 14, 2006

mixed messages

I recently received a birthday card from my dentist. The outside of the card had a cartoon on it. The first frame was a young girl holding a nicely wrapped birthday present; the second frame was her holding up a t-shirt that said "Don't forget to floss". The bottom of the card reads "Happy Birthday from your dentist."

Now, I appreciate that my dentist sent me a birthday card, but I found the card off-putting. Maybe I'm just being sensitive, but since I've shelled out well over $3,000 on my teeth in the past year, I feel like I deserve a little respect. After all, I am an adult, and I am spending lots of my hard-earned money to make sure that my teeth are taken care of. A simple "Happy Birthday from the team at XYZ" would have made me feel warm and fuzzy inside, but the cartoon made me feel like I was being playfully chastised.

Imagine if Verity sent out birthday cards to its members with messages like, "By the way, you missed a payment on your credit card" or "Hey, looks like you're in need of some financial counseling!"? I know we're in the financial services business, but it doesn't mean we always have to remind people of it. People are humans first, before they are customers. And they have a choice whether or not to continue relationships with the companies they do business with.

I will still be seeing my dentist because she does a good job and I like her, but the card did make me think about relationships and how even an innocent gesture can sometimes alienate people. Just something to think about.

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