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Spot the Difference

I’ve learned a lot as a parent.

I’ve learned to love caffeine.

I’ve learned the limits of sleep deprivation (see related point above).

I’ve learned that in the eyes of a six year old, if you add glitter to yellow paint, it becomes gold.

I’ve learned that all trolls are boys, and all fairies are girls.

And I’ve learned your kids don’t care what you do for a job, they just want to spend time with you.

Today I learned what exceptional customer service looks like by virtue of being a parent.

Some kids like to glide across many projects without truly engaging with any, like a pebble skimming across the water but never breaking its surface.

My daughter prefers to put on her metaphorical scuba gear, submerge herself completely in a particular thought pond, and not stop diving until she can feel the grimy mud at its base between her fingers.

I’m much the same.

And so it was that my daughter and I came to be staring at page five of her “Spot the Difference” book for close to an hour.

My daughter had found four of the differences, but the fifth one eluded her (and me) despite our best efforts.

We stood perched over the kitchen table, staring at adjacent images of unicorns and castles and coloured flags, with the intensity one might hold when hoping to discover some fundamental truth of life from what lay before us.

My daughter wouldn’t let us stop till we found the fifth difference, but we had no luck.

After a complex series of intense negotiations (and a further twenty minutes), we finally decided that we could only put an end to our attempt to find the fifth difference if we emailed the company who published the book and advised them that there was a printing error, and that there was – in fact – no fifth difference on page five of “Fantasy Friends Activity Book”.

The “Contact Us” page of the publisher had no drop down menu option which read “We’d like to Report a printing error in one of your Spot the Differences”, so I had to settle for “Any Other Enquiry”

With my daughter staring over my shoulder and largely dictating as I typed on my laptop, we wrote the following:

In the book “Fantasy Friends Activity Book” on page 5 it says there are five differences between the two scenes.

We can only find 4.

The four are:

* One tree background is blue, one tree background is yellow.

* There’s a tree on one picture but not on the other on the far right.

* There is a star on the top palace above the door, but not on the other.

* The gem below the unicorn on the top is yellow, the one below the unicorn on the bottom is pink.

That’s four.

We’ve had a really good look and we can’t find the 5th difference between the two scenes. So we think you have made a printing error.

Can you please tell us what the 5th difference is.

Thank you,

Michael and Sasha

I hit send and, honestly, truthfully, hopefully, thought that was the end of it.

There was a sense of finality when I hit the send button, and I thought that my enquiry would disappear into cyberspace and (for the love of god and all things holy) we’d never have to mention or look at page five of the Fantasy Friends Activity Book ever again.

I was wrong.

Mid-afternoon the following day, an email landed in my inbox from an unknown contact.

It read:

Hi Michael,

Thank you for contacting Make Believe Ideas. We are sorry to hear about this.

Would you mind providing us with the ISBN 13 number at the back of the book near the barcode so that we can ensure we are looking at the same edition?

Kind Regards,

Enquiries Team

They’d replied.


That was unexpected.

What right thinking business would possibly bother replying to such an enquiry?

A business that truly cared about its customers, that’s who.

An hour later, I received a further email from the same address:

Hi Michael,

If it is the same edition I have been looking at, the fifth difference is the cloud in the top left corner.

I have attached a picture; I hope this helps!

They did, indeed, attach a photo.

It’s the header of this post.

And they did, indeed, circle the cloud in the top left corner.

I was amazed.

Partly because I’d stared at that page for an hour and did not notice the cloud.

But mostly because they’d gone to the effort of writing back and replying to my enquiry in a helpful way far and beyond what I could reasonably have expected.

As soon as I got home I checked my daughter’s book just to make sure they weren’t gaslighting me and hadn’t retrospectively photoshopped the image they’d sent me to make me believe I’d missed it all along.

They hadn’t.

The cloud on the top left corner was there on my daughter’s copy of the book too.



So what’s the lesson in all this?

It’s pretty simple really.

Make your customers happy.

Which brings me back to my own neck of the woods and Fullarton Park Dental.

We tried lots of high minded sounding goals, purposes and mission statements over the years.

“Engaging stakeholders through best practice of….. blah blah blah.”

Then our mission arose in an instant as an offshoot of an impromptu conversation.

“……..we make our patients happy…..”



That’s it. Write down what you just said.

We Make Our Patients Happy

Yes. That’s it.

It’s simple.

It’s true.

At Fullarton Park Dental, We Make Our Patients Happy.

I assume Make Believe Ideas is not a publicly listed company, but if it was, I’d buy shares in the place.

They get what it means to make their customers happy, and that lies at the very heart of every exceptional business and – hopefully – extends to our humble dental practice too.

We Make Our Patients Happy.


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