I am ranting today so get ready.
The “they” in the title refers to your customers and/or staff. Your customers (current and former) and staff are either helping or hurting your business by what they are telling people about you.
Thing is, you may just not know which. Your goal is to do all that you can to ensure what they are saying either in word or action is helping.
There are ways to do this which I’ll get to in a minute. First, let me tell you that the reason for this post stems from a few recent experience that left me fit to be tied.
It all comes down to customer service.
Sales and customer service go hand in hand. Sales are based on relationships. Customer service is a demonstration of how much you value that relationship. If you didn’t know that, you should. If you already know that, you can never hear it enough.
Exceptional customer service is a must in your business.
So let me break down what happened:
The other day I was attempting to schedule an appointment with a new doctor that came highly recommended by another doctor. And I mean, HIGHLY recommended.
When I called to tell the receptionist my intention of becoming a new patient, her first thing to do was to ask which insurance carrier I had–standard protocol, so I responded.
She then asked which type of coverage I had from the carrier. My bad on this, I really didn’t know which as I told her. She proceeded to tell me, with the slightest of attitude, that they do take the insurance just not one particular type of coverage, but doesn’t tell me which one.
Okay, this was the first pause because wouldn’t it have made for sense for her just to say, “Yes, we do take ABC Insurance, just not the HMO. Do you have the HMO?”
Or maybe that’s just me.
She tells me to call back when I find out. Huh. Call back. Nice.
Thankfully I have my card on me so I call back within minutes. At this point I’m kind of chuckling and trying to joke with her that good thing I’m happy I have an accepted version. No laughs on her end, just more of the flat tone. (Well, hello to you too, Nurse Ratchet!)
She next asked why I wanted to see the doctor. I told her to have a particular test done. Now, in a really nasty tone, she says, “You’ll have to have a consultation first. You just can’t come in and get that done.”
Did she really think I didn’t know that? Now granted, it is possible some people may be unfamiliar with how these things flow, but chances are, most know the drill. And even if they don’t, where did the tone come from?
The fact that how she responded was not only rude, but condescending as well (and really, I was pleasant—ask my husband, he heard the whole thing), was getting to me. BUT…I wanted to see this doctor because remember, she came highly recommended. So I figured I could get over this woman’s attitude (obviously she was having an off day) enough to make my appointment.
One would would think anyway.
The thing is, I just couldn’t because her attitude continued to be so off it really put me in a mood. I mean, how is it making a simple appointment would lead to such animosity–especially to a new patient?
When she asked me my name in the same nasty tone, I started to say it, and then paused. Instead I asked her, “Is there something wrong? Is there a reason for you to be angry? Am I missing something here?” Of course she said ‘no’, in an even nastier tone. That was it. I had enough.
I replied, “You know what? Never mind. Tell the doctor she just lost a new patient…because of you.” Then I hung up.
Man, I was pissed! I was so pissed you could have fried an egg on my head (that’s a little Mother’s Day shout to my mom–one of her favorite sayings–love you, Mom!) I also knew there had to be something to it because my husband volunteered to drive me to the office so I could make an in person complaint (bless his heart) or kick her tail (which is more of what I was considering by this point).
Even though I appreciated his offer I decided to call the office back instead to speak with the office manager. Somebody should know about Nurse Ratchet’s behavior, right?
Well, I got another woman on the phone who put me on hold and within 10 seconds hung up on me. Hmmm, wonder who was behind that?
Right there and then I decided that this doctor is a hack, her staff is unprofessional, and she’d have to be the only specialist of her kind in the world for me to ever darken her doorstep. Something else that’s unfortunate, if someone ever asks me if I’ve ever heard of her, this is the story I’ll relate. The high recommendation goes out the window because I’m a disgruntled, not even signed up, potential patient.
And that’s not even the worst part. You know what’s REALLY messed up about this? The doctor will most likely never even know this happened. She was probably seeing patients, oblivious to what her office staff was up to and thinking her business is in capable hands. Poor thing. She better hope her bedside manner is stellar because she is relying on some serious saboteurs.
I wonder how many patients she loses a day?
It’s a shame really. I even wanted to help her by alerting her. Maybe a letter in the mail? Maybe I should go by the office? Eh, maybe not since now my priority is finding a new doctor.
And with that I ask you, what are your customers and staff saying about you? Are their actions in line with what you would like them to be? Are they saying and doing the right things to help you get more business and keep your business or are they repelling business away from you?
How can you avoid the latter?
Here’s a couple of things you can do to ensure the right things are happening:
1) Put a customer service protocol in place and train everyone on how it should be done.
2) Ask your customers how satisfied they are on a regularly basis.
3) Ask your customers for ways to improve service and implement what can be implemented immediately.
3) Assess your staff regularly. Don’t have staff, yet? See #’s 2 and 3.
4) Demonstrate your expectations by leading by example.
5) Remove anyone from your establishment who goes against protocol…quickly.
Because see, now I’m left looking for a new doctor and to me, it didn’t even have to be this way. There is no excuse for the behavior of this woman.
There are moments I ask myself if I can get over the experience and the answer remains ‘no’. This is one of those times a trusted referral doesn’t trump poor customer service.
Guess what? It never should.
Let me ask you, what would you have done if you were me? Would love to any ideas on what I can do to alert this doctor to her staff issues. Thoughts?