healthcare

Bring Out the Best - 11/12/19


As a management consultant, oftentimes my job is to identify the key issues, determine the root causes, and provide solutions. We do a lot of strategy work, we conduct many research projects, and we train and train and train our clients. However, improvement usually involves pointing out what needs Read more

Know What You Don’t Know - 11/5/19


Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – yak, yak, yak.  In the social media world, there’s an awful lot of talk that goes on and a lot of opinions shared.  But sometimes those opinions are not based on any level of deep knowledge. Sometimes they are based on assumptions. In the world of Read more

Service, Sports, and Self-Control - 10/29/19


When I was growing up, I played a lot of golf. I practiced a lot, and I could score pretty well. However, when something went bad, when I hit a tee shot into the woods or dumped an iron shot into a lake, I would become unglued. Then every Read more

What it Means to Respect Someone’s Time - 10/22/19


Whether it is with a client when I realize that the meeting might go long, or possibly it’s in a workshop where I’m trying to end one conversation so we can move on to the next topic, there is a phrase I’ve used many times, and I mean it Read more

Be the Director of First Impressions - 10/15/19


Whether it’s in a hotel or in a coffee shop or a bank branch, first impressions mean a lot. First impressions mean “this is who we are” and “this is what you should expect.” First impressions mean “this is our definition of excellence” and “this is how much we Read more

People will Pay for Customer Service - 10/8/19


Sometimes all you need to read is the first paragraph in an article. Here’s the title from Business Insider: Amazon charges sellers as much as $5,000 a month for customer service if they want a guarantee that they'll be able to talk to a real person. The first paragraph reads: Amazon Read more

New Ways to Celebrate National Customer Service Week - 10/1/19


The week of October 7 is National Customer Service Week. No, this wasn’t another holiday invented by Hallmark, so you have to go to work. Hopefully that’s the good news! This week is typically thought of as a time to rejuvenate relationships with customers, to refocus your efforts on treating Read more

The Error of “Everyone” - 9/24/19


A recent article in The Charlotte Observer got me thinking about a concept, a premise that is suggested all too often in society. First, the article: The story was about lawn care, and some of the people quoted in the article talked about what customers want today. They noted Read more

Between Texting and Thoreau - 9/17/19


The more people that enter the business world having grown up texting, the more the quality of business communications drops. A typical text between friends is rarely what anybody in business would call a professionally-written document. There’s nothing wrong with that, because texting is typically informal dialogue between friends. Read more

I want to be an Astronaut - 9/10/19


When I was young, if a child was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, the answers were often a fireman, a Pro Football player, a teacher, somebody who got to drive a truck, or an astronaut. Maybe the question is still asked today, and, if Read more

Do Anything, but Not Everything – 8/27/19

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment

We work with a lot of educational organizations, but this Tip of the Week applies to virtually any kind of business that has repeat customers. To deliver great service, be willing to go above and beyond, do virtually anything for the customer. But in the world of colleges and universities, most of those organizations of higher education also have the mindset that they have to help their students grow, mature, develop over their time in school. It’s important to put the responsibility and the resulting accountability on the student so that they take ownership over the action, and they can do it on their own in the future. By helping them to develop some independence, in the long run it is actually saving time for the university personnel as well.

Think about using this approach with your customers, particularly if you deal with repeat customers. These might be land designers who have to submit multiple plans to a local government to develop some property. These might be season ticket holders for a professional sports organization who need to learn how to manage their tickets on their own. This could be patients in a hospital who need to be able to understand their discharge instructions and provide good self-care after they’ve left the facility.

So there is a line of demarcation. You want to have the attitude and the willingness to do ANYTHING for the customer, but it’s rarely the best long-term approach to do EVERYTHING for the customer.

Think about those things that they are well-equipped to do or that they’re going to need to do multiple times in the future. Think about how independent they want to be or need to be. Think about their desire to easily do something and to have the comfort and confidence to be able to take that action.

When you’re considering your approach to customer service, do anything, but not everything.

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Look Up, or Look Out! – 2/19/19

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment


The clerk called out “next in line!”, and Frannie went to the counter. “Can I have your name?,” the employee asked, but she stared at her computer screen while asking. Frannie stated her name, the time of her appointment, and noted the reason for the appointment.

Staring at the screen, the clerk confirmed the insurance was still valid and the address was still the same. After Frannie confirmed, the representative, still staring at the computer screen said “feel free to have a seat over there in the lobby.” So, Frannie went over to the lobby, and she sat down.

This is similar to interactions that happen millions of times every day at American businesses, and this is emblematic of interactions that happen millions of times every day which are NOT GOOD.

The only semblance of eye contact was when the clerk looked toward the line 20 feet away and yelled “next in line!” The clerk was dutifully doing her job, entering or confirming the right data. She got the facts right, she completed the transaction, and she told the customer where to go!

Frannie, meanwhile, was a proverbial cog in the assembly line. She was moved from place to place to place with all the warmth and attention and appreciation that one would expect from a conveyor belt.

After Frannie sat in the waiting area, she looked around and noticed that there were 4 different waiting areas with small signs to signify waiting areas A, B, C, and D. She assumed she was in the right area, but it was unclear to her. She was a tiny bit confused and a little bit irritated at the lack of anything positive. The longer she waited – 5, 10, 15 minutes past her appointment time – the more irritated she got. She also wondered if she was in the right waiting area. She saw patient after patient who checked in after her get called ahead of her.

She was getting hot, frustrated, and her question about the delay was turning into a complaint about the experience. Before her emotions got the better of her, her name was called.

The whole time, Frannie kept thinking that if the clerk had only looked up during the conversation, made eye contact a few times, smiled, and been more clear about the potential wait time and about the location of the waiting room, expectations that Frannie had would’ve been more reasonable; her perception of the experience would have been much more positive.

When you’re face-to-face with the customer, no matter how important that computer screen is or that paperwork may be, look up, or look out!

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Take Away Their Worry – 8/7/18

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment


One summer, Janet was given a new chore. She had to take out the trash and recycle bins to the street every Tuesday night so that they could be picked up Wednesday morning. She would go out around 7 or 8 o’clock at night, take the bins out, and come back inside. As summer was about to end, it began getting dark earlier, so Janet began putting the bins out earlier.

Janet was worrying about things. She kept hearing noises and didn’t know what they were, so she decided to at least avoid the darkness when putting out the bins. Her dad asked why she kept going out earlier, and when she explained, he said that the noises were probably some small animals, and she shouldn’t be afraid.

The next week she went out a little later – when it was a little bit darker – and she heard some noises and ran back inside. Her dad asked what was wrong, and when she explained about the noises again, he got out his flashlight, and they walked out together. They heard a noise, he pointed the flashlight in that direction, and it was a squirrel. They walked a few feet and heard another noise, and the flashlight revealed a bunny on some leaves. It was a windy day, and after another noise, the light showed a small branch that had fallen.

What the dad had said a week earlier had been proven true. Janet continued her chore, and she did so at night – and she usually went out with a flashlight.

For our customers, similar to Janet, sometimes things are scary. It could be that patient’s unexpected visit to an urgent care, or possibly that a sports fan was about to make a big payment on season tickets. Maybe that resident was not used to dealing with the government on the tax issue.

If we can tell them what they’re going to experience, it can make them less worried. Better yet, it we can SHOW THEM what’s going to happen – being that flashlight – noting all the steps they could be experiencing through the process, they become even more comfortable.

When you are interacting with a customer on something that may create worry or anxiety, do what Janet’s dad did for her. Patiently describe what the experience will be like; shine the light on the path they’ll be going down to bring down their emotions.

Take away their worry.

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