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How A Unique Customer Experience Drives Dentistry Forward

December 16, 2021

CenterPoint is a showroom featuring twenty-five fully equipped dental operatories. That’s the little room patients go into to get their teeth cleaned or for other dental procedures. Dentists are invited to spend a day touring the facility to get design ideas and inspiration for their own dental offices, whether they are just starting out or perhaps redesigning an existing practice.

Melissa Sprau is director of design at Benco Dental, and she led me on the same tour she gives to dozens of dentists each year (Benco is a consulting client of mine).

“Welcome to CenterPoint. We’re so glad that you’re here and that you made the trip,” she began. “Believe it or not, here in little Pittston, Pennsylvania, we actually have the largest dental equipment showroom in the world.” Each of the operatories is filled with real dental equipment and supplies in order to replicate actual working conditions and help the dentists envision what a final design might look like.

“We have our operatories set up in lots of different ways. You might even notice some redundancies in the equipment and the delivery systems. There’s more than what you might need in your typical work day in each operatory,” Sprau explained. “We do this on purpose. We do this so that you can get in and get comfortable and position the equipment in exactly the way that you want to work. We want you to try it as if it’s your own and really experience all of the different manufacturers, all of the different ways that you can set up a room, so that you leave here today feeling confident about the purchase that you’re going to make.”


That purchase just might be the biggest purchase a dentist makes for his or her practice, which is why Benco wants to ensure that its clients are completely comfortable with the design before making the decision to buy. Benco sells everything in the operatory, from the flooring tile to the box of exam gloves on the counter. Since every dentist is different, the showroom is meant to display all sorts of concepts in a flexible manner that allows for mixing and matching. “To [the] patient, every operatory might look the same. They come in, they sit down in the chair, there’s a light overhead,” Sprau explained. “But to you as the dentist, you’ve got a lot of decisions to make. In addition to just the nuts and bolts of the equipment and where it’s placed and how it affects your workflow, there’s also flooring, wall covering, ambient lighting and task lighting—all of these different elements to consider.”

Sprau added that the different operatories explore “different approaches and really get you thinking bigger and thinking differently, and to show you all of the possibilities of the total aesthetic of the operatory, in addition to the functional elements of the operatory equipment.” In other words, the experience covers both form and function. A stop at the design library allows the dentist to peruse hundreds of flooring samples, everything from carpet to vinyl tile to porcelain. There are also tons of wall coverings, ranging from fancy to fanciful, from upscale to made for kids. Everything is prequalified as appropriate for a commercial healthcare environment.

If a dentist doesn’t see exactly the right design for their needs, Benco has a solution for that as well—the Sandbox. A bunch of nondescript white boxes represent dental equipment, and the dentist can change the sizes and wheel them around to place them in exactly the right spot to create the “ideal” operatory space.

“When we’re all done and you have everything placed exactly where you like, look up, there’s a GoPro that’s hanging from the ceiling,” Sprau explained. “It’s going to capture an image of the operatory layout that we’ve designed together so you know exactly the way you want to plan your space.”

Remarkably, Benco provides this experience free of charge, including travel, to dentists who they know are looking to design or redesign an office. Why do they invest all this time, effort, and money into prospective customers who may not even end up buying? Because they know that customer experience is their true differentiator.

“We’re not just trying to make a one-time big purchase and walk away,” said Sprau. “We care about their long-term health and their long-term success as a business, and we want to give them the tools to support that. We make these deeper-level connections with customers, where we’re not just talking about how many operatories and what color to paint the walls. We’re talking about, ‘What do you want your patients to feel when they come in and what do you want them to remember when they leave?’ Or ‘Doctor, what do you want to do to differentiate yourself from the practice up the street? What makes you love what you do and how can we help show that to the world through the design of your practice?’”

The result? Most dentists, after immersing themselves in the CenterPoint experience, go from thinking they might want to create a new office design to knowing they have to in order to stay modern and relevant. When they’re ready, Benco’s team of commercial interior designers will help them sketch out the entire office, up to and including where those boxes of gloves go.



A customer experience speaker and coach with a 20-year corporate background at companies like McDonald’s, Discover, and Humana, Dan helps businesses create experiences that customers can’t wait to share with friends and social media followers.


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