Can customer service make or break a sale? You betcha!
We recently found ourselves in need of a “primary care physician” for my husband (he was very sick). Not familiar with the doctors in this area, I asked a good friend for a recommendation. Here is what happened:
Doctor #1: I spent 20 minutes on hold with this doctor’s office before I ever reached a live person. The lady who answered the phone was fairly abrupt and matter-of-fact with me. As we are considered “new patients”, I was told my husband would have to take a 30-minute “new patient” appointment (as opposed to a simple office visit); could he also show up 30 minutes early to do paperwork? At this point, the lady checked the appointment schedule – and informed me the doctor was fully booked for 2 days! She referred me to the local urgent care clinic. I thanked her and hung up.
Doctor #2:I found this doctor’s office online. I spent about 3 minutes on hold before I was connected to a very pleasant lady. She was friendly and sympathetic, acknowledging my husband’s illness right away. She quickly found an appointment for him to come in a few hours later (a regular office visit), with a request that he come 15 minutes early for paperwork. Relieved, my husband saw this doctor.
Takeaways from this story:
-WOM (Word of Mouth) referrals mean nothing if the customer experience is poor. The first doctor was a referral from my friend. I trusted that this would be a good doctor. However, the customer service we had (long wait for phone, surly phone agent, no appointment) discouraged us greatly.
I found out that the person who answered the phone was a call center rep that answered calls for all the clinics in this particular physican’s network. A nurse from the office called me later in the day to chastise me for not taking the “new patient intake” appointment as they are apparently very difficult to come by. When I told her I wasn’t sure I wanted to have a doctor that was this busy, she told me all their doctors were very busy. I told her that was fine, and we would find another doctor!
- You can hear a smile over the phone. Just by listening to the lady from the second doctor, I could actually hear her smile; she sounded glad to be talking to a potential new patient. I felt welcome! This is important for anyone representing your company by phone, including not just customer service but also sales and marketing.
- Make the process convenient for the customer, not for the company. Requiring a very sick patient to take a longer (and harder to come by) appointment because they are new to your office is not the right thing to do for the customer! A follow-up appointment would have been more beneficial and probably would have allowed my husband to be seen sooner.
- Look for the long-term, not just the short-term. A patient-doctor relationship can last for many years, as once someone finds a doctor, they don’t go shopping around for a new one very often. Making it easy for customers to do business with you helps start the relationship in such a way that there is room for trust to build.
Amazing how the customer service experience affected our decision of which doctor to begin seeing as our family doctor! Even before we were customers, the customer service experience mattered.
What does your experience say to your potential customers? Will they come back to you, or will they walk on down the street?
Customers Rock! organizations make each encounter count!
Related post: Customer service can make it or break it