I am a tough critic when it comes to my customer service experience and the companies I choose to do business with. I expect a lot and the smallest of things can either make or break my experience. I am always appreciative when things are done right, even the small things, but when something is done wrong I won’t shut up about it.
I have over 15 years of experience working in a service-related industry which probably explains why I’m the way I am. I know firsthand how hard it can be to gain a new customer and how easy it is to lose one. As my wise boss is known to say, happy customers will tell two others about your company and unhappy customers will tell 20.
My experience has taught me that it all boils down to the details. These details keep customers coming back, keep them happy and keep them talking about their positive experiences. Let me share with you some of my own personal examples that I think demonstrate the importance of the little things:
Answering the phone on the first ring. I worked with a medical specialist recently and I loved her immediately. Not only did she call me back when she said she would (which should be a given, not a happy surprise) but she often answered her phone on the first ring when I call her. This may seem like a miniscule thing but let’s be honest. How many of you know what it’s like sitting at your desk working on a big project or trying to get through your to do list when your phone rings? It’s not always welcome right? The phone rings, and you think about whether or not you want to answer. On the flip side, how many of you can tell when the person you are speaking with over the phone is doing other things and not giving you their full attention? Customers never want to feel as if they aren’t important or that they are not the priority. The medical specialist who answered her phone right away (and with a smile) made me feel important and taken care of.
Making it easy to be your customer. I called a company recently and I wasn’t completely sure who I needed to speak to about my particular issue. I called a general number and the person who answered told me I needed to speak to Lorna, and then gave me Lorna’s extension so I could call back. “Does Lorna work at your location?” I asked. “Yes” said the person I was speaking with. “Is she in the office today?” I asked. “I believe so,” this person said. “Can you just transfer me to her now?” I asked, and you see how that conversation went. Good customer service is making things easy for your customers, and not making them jump through hoops or go through extra steps to do business with you.
Doing the practical thing, even if it isn’t protocol. I just read an article entitled Little Things Make a Big Difference: The Art of Customer Service in Hospital and Medical Marketing . It gives an example about a doctor seeing a patient out to the door in the reception area of a hospital. The receptionist informed the doctor that his next patient was here and she would have the nurse send this new patient back to the examination room. The doctor replied he would just take her back now since he was right there. It was the practical thing to do even if it wasn’t the hospital’s protocol AND it really meant a lot to the patient to be escorted by a doctor. The story soon spread to dozens of people in the following weeks creating a positive impression of both the doctor and the hospital.
Having great employees. This last example is my favorite. My family and I frequent a Mexican restaurant. It’s not the closest place to our homes, the food is good but it isn’t the very best out of all the local Mexican places, and the prices are reasonable but not inexpensive. You might wonder why we even go there, when there seem to be better options for Mexican food. We go there because of the staff and the service. They treat us like family, they know us by name, we look at pictures of each other’s children and we always leave feeling happy. That kind of customer service keeps us going back!
Jen Van Rooy is the Community Manager for Orion Associates, a social services and management company. Jen’s professional experience includes overseeing the self-directed services for Orion ISO and Morning Star Financial Services as well as a human resources background.
Learn more about Orion ISO’s commitment to excellent customer service.