Meetings like the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) are usually a good way to network with leading plastic surgeons around the world, but my recent trip to ISAPS in Rio de Janeiro reminded me that service – how we make people feel – can mean more than new techniques or technologies. In this case, it was the travel experience itself that was enlightening. International trips invariably have a few glitches, but some examples of great service inspired me to rethink the service aspect of my practice.
I will start with a shout out to Emirates Airlines, with whom I had not flown before. We were leaving Rio for a week of tango in Buenos Aires, and the plane was picking up a new crew in Rio. The purser saw us in the boarding area, came over and introduced himself, and found out that we were new to the airline. This was followed up with personal touches throughout the flight. Small things can make a lasting impression.
In Buenos Aires, we found a busy parilla (steak house) that managed to make everyone feel taken care of despite having a long wait without a reservation. At the place across the street we could no doubt have been served sooner, the food may have been decent, but the reason why Don Julio’s was packed seemed to be loyal (and mostly local) customers.
We found truly unexpected service at the Lujan Zoo, which started as an animal rescue facility and now does a lot of work to preserve endangered species with breeding and exchange programs. It is obvious that the animals are well taken care of. What is unique about Lujan is that the animals are habituated to human presence, and visitors have the opportunity to enter the animal enclosures. So yes, I have touched full-grown tigers, had a lioness lick milk from my hand, and I wore a boa – of the constrictor type. What makes all this work is the respect and service that the zoo employees demonstrate.
Of course, we count on people to provide a safe and professional approach in situations where there is no margin for error. We rely on advanced technology to get the plane to its destination, restaurants have to provide not just tasty food but good sanitation, and one mishap in the lion enclosure would put Lujan out of business. In plastic surgery, it is the same; good technique and sterile procedures are only the baseline. We strive to make our service approach memorable, and all of us appreciate your feedback.