Andrew has been writing Anti Buzz for 4 years resulting in almost 200 articles. For the next several weeks we will revisit some of these just in case you missed it:
No, not that Windows; these. The broken windows theory of crime is not something I would profess to be an expert on, but the idea is applicable in matters of professionalism and technology. My layman’s summary is that most crime is opportunistic, and will be more often found in situations where there is a perception of low enforcement. Broken windows beget more broken windows; their presence signals that “nobody cares” and so the next would-be vandal is more likely to take the risk. Vandalism begets more vandalism, graffiti more graffiti. A disorderly neighborhood feels less safe, making residents more fearful, and as Yoda has assured us, fear leads to hate, hate to suffering, and et cetera until we cross over into the Dark Side. The argument is that keeping things clean and orderly goes a long way to preventing crime.
Even in lighter matters, we are inclined toward a similar ‘community standards policing.’ I suppose it doesnt really matter how u spell it or if you dont remember some punctuation or maybe youre sentence runs two long. Just know that the signal it sends is that you think vandalism is okay. I myself am guilty of scoffing at etiquette and good appearances. Even now I sometimes wish that people could just focus on ‘what really matters’ in a meritocratic sense – who cares how someone dresses if they get the job done? Yes, it may be that someone who is over-concerned with superficial matters of dress and niceties is not a very useful person, but all those niceties do have a use in the end – they reassure everyone around you that you aren’t the sort of person who slashes tires and smashes mailboxes.
Of course, I doubt I need to lecture dentists on the value of professionalism. What I do need to point out is how ignorance of tech matters can leave you with broken windows you might not be aware of. Using technology to reach new customers is a double-edged sword, as it also gives you new opportunities to look unprofessional.
The most egregious example is, of course, overreacting to online reviews. More down to earth advice is to not let any web presence you maintain yourself, (as in your website or Facebook profile – not your Yelp page), fall into disrepair. ‘Disrepair’ can mean any number of things, but mostly just keep the information you have current. The only thing worse than a business with no web page is one that lists the wrong business hours – it is in effect a broken promise. If you told me that your listed hours are correct, I would ask you if you had bothered to post your holiday hours this past July 4? Do you take a week off in December? Is that reflected on your website? It’s a small thing, but as soon as the customer is affronted by some minor vandalism, they start to feel less safe. Your cheery disposition seems less sincere. Your next small mistake is magnified. It is not absurd to suggest you might lose a patient all for the simple fact that you forgot to say you were closed for Labor Day.
On the subject of websites; minimal is fine, trashy is not. I have dismissed fears of ‘security’ in the past, saying that it was up to the user to be savvy enough to avoid the metaphorical dark alleys. Another way to look at it is to void broken windows, but in your website design and you general Internet exploration. To come full circle, poor grammar is the hallmark of scam-emails. As for websites: Pop-ups? Unwelcome videos? Bad colors? Only rudimentary html? You know it when you see it. There are would-be reputable websites that break the rules and come across as looking like a dangerous side street. Don’t surf there, and don’t let your own page become one of those neighborhoods.
More front and center are the computers in your office. I would not load up and Macs or otherwise dictate your practice management software simply for how sleek it looks, but you do have to be aware that what is on a computer screen does say something about its user, and your patients will look at your computers from time to time. I wouldn’t agonize over the decision, but desktop wallpapers should match some standard. Deskstops themselves should be free of clutter. No random files lying around because somebody was in a rush and wanted something to be convenient. I wouldn’t think “what does my desktop say about me?” but rather just be wary that the monitors in your office are yet another chance for you to reveal some broken windows.