healthcare

A Hair-Cut Above...and Below - 2/11/20


After going to the same barber for more than a decade, I decided to leave.  The customer experience went down, and the price went up.  For my last several visits, I was the one who was driving the conversations – when I could get a word in edgewise between Read more

When Employees Fight Over a Customer - 2/4/20


There’s nothing like the feeling of comfort I get from a warm greeting at a business establishment.  A feeling of “you are my most important customer” and “I cannot wait to serve you” brings a tear to the eye of a customer service consultant.  But that’s not the only Read more

LOTS of Opportunities to Appreciate Customers - 1/28/20


They give us their money, and we give them merchandise. We say “Thank you!”  That is the old-time stereotypical opportunity for a company to thank their customers.  But there are opportunities all day long for us to convey appreciation to our customers. Beyond the actual transaction, there are so many Read more

When Jack Gave Arnie a Tip - 1/21/20


Jack Nicklaus may have been the greatest golfer ever.  Many think that Arnold Palmer was the most important golfer of the 20th century.  These two greats were contemporaries, so they became competitors and friends all at once.  And when somebody who is one of the greatest of all time Read more

Make it Abundantly Clear - 1/14/20


Becky was laying in her hospital bed and staring at the whiteboard on the wall.  It had a room number, the room’s phone number, and the date.  It had the pictures of the pain scale, with happy-to-sad faces and ratings from 0-10.  It noted when the last meds were Read more

Become the Wishing Well - 1/7/20


When you don’t know if the next step will solve the customer’s problem, give hope a chance.  If you’re not certain how things will progress on their project, give hope a chance.  If you want to end the conversation by having them feel positive, even if uncertain, give hope Read more

Why Silence is Golden - 12/31/19


In the world of customer service, to begin finding a resolution, sometimes we have to initiate conversation. To keep things moving forward, oftentimes we have to proactively engage in discussion.  To have effective dialogue, we need to avoid those long periods of dead silence. But don’t let those truths of Read more

2019 Holiday Poem - 12/24/19


There is joy absolutely everywhere, Sometimes you just need to look for it. There are birds and babies. There are flowers and sweet older ladies. You just have to look for them. People hold doors open for others, with smiles. There are days when you can see for miles. You just have to look for them. There Read more

Encourage the Customer - 12/17/19


Everybody sing with me:  Feelings, whoa whoa whoa, feelings… Excellent old song, and be thankful that I’m just writing the words and not singing to you.  While not all of us are comfortable with discussing feelings, feelings are an important part of the customer experience. No, you can’t make someone feel Read more

Hearing is Believing - 12/10/19


“I just want to be heard.” When I work with clients whose customers are the community, this is a phrase I’ve heard far too often from residents.  For retail businesses and other industries where there are many choices, often customers will take their business elsewhere instead of complaining.  But with Read more

Sell the Facts – 4/14/15 TOW

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


If there’s one thing I’ve heard repeatedly throughout the years it’s that MANY customer service people hate to sell. I’ve also heard that great salesmen are great at “servicing” their accounts. Now as “customer service people,” we can all agree that sales people who have a service-focus should perform better. We’re wired to serve, so naturally we’d feel that sales people would benefit from some similar wiring.

But customer service people don’t like to sell. We say: “It’s pushy. It’s product-driven, not people-focused. It’s uncomfortable. It’s me-focused instead of you-focused.”

In many ways those thoughts are correct, but we have to get over those stereotypes about selling and sales people. For customer service people to be the best we can be, we have to learn how to sell.

Think of selling using a different word – persuasion. We are often giving customers options to consider. They can renew their account today or next month. They could take medicine A or medicine B. They could pay online or in-person. They could return an item or get it repaired. They could return this semester or drop out of college.

Often – as service-focused individuals – we want to offer options and provide the facts for their decision, and then we stop.

But in our gut, if we truly care about that customer with us, we often know there’s a better option. We know that customers similar to them preferred a particular alternative. We know that – based on their unique personality, their specific issues, or their personal goals – one way is better than the other.

It’s their decision, but if we really want to provide great customer service, we need to use our skills to persuade them toward what decision may be best for them.

“While there are different times when you could renew, based on your preference for that location, I recommend you renew today to lock in those seats.”

“When we’ve had patients in your situation, they preferred medicine A because there are minimal side effects.”

“When people haven’t dined with us before, we often recommend this dish – it’s our specialty and really gives you a sense of what makes this experience special.”

When you’re serving, don’t be adverse to selling – particularly if selling is simply persuading the customer to make the best decision for them.

When offering options, don’t just state the facts – sell them.

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Are You Carol or Darrell? – 3/24/15 TOW

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


Carol and Darrell are reception clerks at the local eye clinic. Each had a patient – essentially the same patient – walk up to them.

Carol looked up from her computer screen and said hello to the patient. The patient said he had an appointment with Dr. Jones at 9:00. Carol said “I need to see your insurance card.” She asked whether the patient wanted to do self-pay or run it through insurance. The patient was confused and asked whether the health insurance covered eye appointments. Carol said most people know when they come in if health insurance covers eye appointments, so the patient asked if Carol could check on the system for her, and Carol said she’d check. After 3-4 minutes of looking at the screen in silence, Carol said “We’re out-of-network. What would you like to do?” The patient asked whether that mattered, and Carol said “it’s $150 self-pay, but it could be over $300 if you used insurance,” so the patient opted for self-pay. Carol completed the transaction by taking a deposit, printing the paperwork, and directing the patient to the waiting room.

Darrell stood and smiled at his patient, introduced himself, and asked how he could help the patient. The patient said she had an appointment with Dr. Smith at 9:00. Darrell said “Great! If you have insurance, I’ll pull it up on my computer for you. Do you have an insurance card with you?” Darrell looked at the card and said, “Now there are two ways patients can pay for their appointment. The first is self-pay (and Darrell noted why some people to prefer that method). The other is with insurance; I checked your insurance, and it appears that your insurance does cover one exam per year, but unfortunately, our clinic is out-of-network, which means the charge will most likely be over $300 if you use your insurance. So would you prefer the self-pay option or using insurance?” The patient said she’d definitely prefer self-pay, and Darrell responded that he’d just need a credit card for payment. Darrell completed the transaction, printed the paperwork, thanked the patient for coming in, noted that a technician named Margaret would call her name within about 5 minutes, and showed the patient where she could wait. “Is there anything else I can do for you” Darrell asked. The patient said “no, thank you,” Darrell thanked her again for coming in today. The patient smiled and walked to the waiting room.

These are two simple stories that end with two questions.

Are you Carol or Darrell? Are you Good or Great?

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Create Your Own Moments of Truth – 3/3/15 TOW

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


Bonnie can run 100 miles an hour – not literally, of course. She’s a nursing assistant on a floor of a hospital, so she rarely goes into a full sprint, but she is constantly in motion. If you could watch her, you would see she’s hyper-productive. Whether it’s making the bed, dressing the patient, or taking vital signs, she’s efficient and quick.

Despite this high productivity, the patients and the co-workers never feel like she’s rushing them through or making them feel like a cog on the assembly line.

Bonnie has that innate ability to pause at just the right time and in the right way. When a patient has a need or question or comment, she looks the patient in the eye, and slows down the task. When the nurse manager has a question while Bonnie is “running” down the hall, Bonnie stops, faces the manager, smiles, and takes a calming breath. When a new co-worker is confused about the schedule or their assignment, Bonnie puts down her pen, softens her voice, and affixes her eyes on the co-worker’s papers.

As good as Bonnie is with her body language and tone of voice, she’s even better at something else. She’s better at seeing the situation.

When it comes to serving others, her eyes are always open for opportunities to engage others; the other person’s question, need, confused look, or eye contact are what Bonnie is always looking to see. She is always seeking cues for a chance to serve.

Work on the habit of looking for cues in others that there’s an opportunity to serve. When you see those opportunities, don’t let them go by.

Slow down, and start creating your own Moments of Truth.

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