Medical Encounters Of The Third Kind Deliver Customer Service Excellence

Dear Mr. Kaufman,

I’m a practicing medical doctor.

I came across your video playing at the bookstore. I was rooted to the spot for 30 minutes! I bought your book and subscribed to your newsletter. Thoroughly enjoyed them both!

Regarding your Service Encounters of the Third Kind, how do I apply that in my medical practice? The first and second kind are no problem. But how can I use the third kind in medicine? How do I ask, “What do you want to become?” to my patients?

Dr. H.H., Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Hello, Dr H.H.,

Thank you for that great question!

Service Encounters of the Third Kind in medicine moves the doctor/patient relationship beyond “What’s wrong or what needs fixing?” (an encounter of the first kind), beyond “Which therapy or style of treatment do you want?” (an encounter of the second kind), to a dialogue focusing on your patient’s preferred choice of lifestyle: nutrition, exercise, bodywork, stress release and emotional well-being included.

This is a proactive conversation about changing behaviors and practices to create and achieve intended health objectives. It’s not a traditional (often remedial) conversation about what’s wrong and what needs to be, or can be, fixed.

In medicine these third-kind discussions are usually seen as preventative in nature, and often aren’t easy to broach given the intense pressures of time most doctors face, and given the traditional view most patients have of their doctors. They are examples of customer service excellence though.

However, some chiropractors, naturopaths and holistic medical practitioners have built successful practices in the third-kind direction by delivering customer service excellence. They provide education for their patients on movement (yoga, exercise, breath work), nutrition (supplements, dietary choices, cooking styles), and even family and career matters (stress clinics, relationship workshops, company wellness retreats).

I am not sure where your practice is along this spectrum, but I do hope this reply is useful for you. Wishing you and your patients the very best.

Ron Kaufman

Key Learning Point About Customer Service Excellence

Many professionals are moving from first-kind encounters to second kind interactions to truly third-kind conversations and commitments with their customers to deliver customer service excellence. Those who engage customers in such proactive conversations will invent a successful future more assuredly than those who only satisfy immediate customer demands and don’t strive for customer service excellence.

Action Steps To Create Customer Service Excellence

Gather a group of colleagues and customers to explore the question, “What do you want to become?” Imagine and create new possibilities for customers, for colleagues, for your company. Don’t get caught with all your attention on the requirements of today. The future of your business is already forming in the possibilities you can imagine for tomorrow. Deliver customer service excellence by thinking ahead.


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Copyright, Ron Kaufman. Used with permission. Ron Kaufman is the world’s leading educator and motivator for upgrading customer service and uplifting service culture. He is author of the bestselling “Uplifting Service” book and founder of Uplifting Service. To enjoy more customer service training and service culture articles, visit

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