Guaranteed. Really?!

March 21, 2012

In early January, 3M ESPE announced that moving forward it would ensure the accurate fit of restorations created using its Lava™ Chairside Oral Scanner C.O.S., with a one-year guarantee for new doctors. The program is intended to highlight the system’s accuracy and demonstrate 3M ESPE’s commitment to customers who purchase this powerful technology.

In early January, 3M ESPE announced that moving forward it would ensure the accurate fit of restorations created using its Lava™ Chairside Oral Scanner C.O.S., with a one-year guarantee for new doctors. The program is intended to highlight the system’s accuracy and demonstrate 3M ESPE’s commitment to customers who purchase this powerful technology.

As the digital impressioning field continues to grow-with several new competitive products slated for launch this year-Dental Products Report decided to follow-up with 3M ESPE about what this campaign means for the company and what it means for the end user. The following Q&A is excerpted from a phone interview between Thais Carter, Editor in Chief for DPR, and Chad Naughton, 3M ESPE’s marketing communications supervisor for Lava C.O.S.

DPR: After the “soft launch” of the Lava C.O.S. at the 2008 Chicago Midwinter meeting, you launch this “Guaranteed Fit” campaign leading up to Midwinter 2010. To those on the outside, that seems like a huge leap in a very short time. The main question is: Why?

When we launched this, it was all controlled and we did it methodically…opening up different areas of the country a bit at a time. We weren’t nationwide until the second half of ’09. Prior to that, it never made sense to do national marketing. We’ve had tremendous progress and what we’ve seen over the course of the last year is tremendously successful integration with our core group of customers. One thing that was clear was the remake rate was radically less than it was with traditional materials. We’ve always been proud to stand behind our products, and in the case of the Lava C.O.S., that evolved into a guaranteed fit.

DPR: Why take such a dramatic stance instead of just promoting the lower remake rate?

When you ask doctors about digital impressions, they see this is where dentistry is going. They know the technology is remarkable, but many don’t feel ready yet. One of the things we thought we could do, because we have confidence in our process and system-which leads to greater accuracy from the very beginning-is to guarantee fit for new doctors.

DPR: How would you describe the Lava C.O.S.’s standing in the current field of digital impressioning systems?

It’s simple. Our approach at 3M ESPE is to enter a category to be No. 1. We were a couple years behind Cadent in terms of offering a stand alone system, and CEREC, of course, has been around for many years, but only as a chairside system. We see opportunity and looking toward the future, we know we want to win.

DPR: What is it about your technology that you think offers you a competitive advantage?

Accuracy and potential. Every other system uses point and click technology which has been around for more than 20 years and we are just beginning to harness the power of our “3D-in-Motion” technology. For comparison, every time you take a picture with point and click you capture 1 3D data set. For every second you are in the mouth with our system it captures 20 3D data sets.

DPR: Are you worried about having to compensate for people not using the technology correctly?

One of the things we like to say is, we can’t make a bad dentist a good dentist, but we can make a good dentist a better dentist. The vast majority of customers are good dentists. What’s great about guaranteed fit is that if you have a challenge along the way or something doesn’t work, we try to capture that up front and correct it right away. We’re not just saying we’re going to compensate you for the lack of fit, but we’ll find out what was wrong and how to fix it moving forward. We don’t have to do it a lot, but that’s the promise we want to deliver.

DPR: How do you define success for this type of ad campaign?

At the end of the year, we’re all judged by making sure that we sell the units, but a great part of this campaign is making sure the doctors who do come on board have alleviated the fear. We want them to be 100% satisfied with their decision and 100% excited with where this is going.

DPR: Is there anything that worries you about the growth of the category?

Well, my concern is that we’re going to end up seeing a lot of “me too” companies. We try to emphasize to potential customers that when you are looking at a fundamental shift in how you do business, you don’t want someone who’s just going to sell you a system, but someone to partner with you.

DPR: What closing thought would you like to leave readers with?

We are not just guaranteeing fit of the restoration, but also standing behind the real benefits our doctors have told us about: Productivity, improved patient experience, improved communication with their labs and even a more engaged staff.