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

Are You More Than 64% Responsive? – 9/30/14 TOW

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


I’m sure if we asked every healthcare CEO, every university president, and every sports team COO whether his/her staff are responsive to their current or prospective customers, they’d say “Yes!” And they’d be horrified to hear the truth.

We’ve conducted thousands of mystery shops in public and private sector businesses – from your local school system to pro sports teams, from universities to banks, from municipalities to healthcare providers. Oftentimes we leave voice mails and e-mails requesting a response to a question or need. Almost invariably, the response rates to those messages are abysmal.

The best return call percentage to voice mails has been 55%. The best e-mail response rate we’ve seen is 64%. I’m not describing high quality responses, either; I’m just sharing the percentage who responded at all.

Maybe I give the CXOs too much credit, suggesting they’d be “horrified.” Why? Because it’s not like moving mountains to have personnel respond to over 70% or 80% or 90% of messages received. Three actions of the CXOs are required to increase responsiveness:

  1. They have to continually communicate how important it is to be responsive to customers.
  2. The CXOs must be as responsive to their own staff as they expect staff to be with customers.
  3. The CXOs must ensure that their management and staff have the time, processes, and systems that facilitate responsiveness.

Now one could surmise that the 3rd point is the hardest action to take, and that may be true. But I would argue that the 2nd point is hardest for most CXOs, because even before these actions occur, the CXO has to do one simple thing – care.

They have to care about staff, care about the customer, care about creating an environment where responsiveness can occur, and care about being the model to their staff.

So what’s the best way to ensure that staff “get it” about the need for responsiveness?

To answer this, I’m going to steal a line a client of mine stated last week (I’m paraphrasing). Leaders should ask their staff “Who’s the most responsive person in the organization?”

What if the staff named that leader, that CXO? Now, that would be POWERFUL!

Share this Tip with your leaders. Encourage them to be the most responsive person in your organization.

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Simplify the Vocabulary – 9/9/14 TOW

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In our constant quest to find new ways to describe boring or irritating processes and services in a way that makes them sound exciting, we develop creative names: No Child Left Behind, Affordable Care Act, Permanent Seat Licenses, etc.

However, the problem is that our customers find out that this is typically not something to embrace, and the name becomes a joke or a punch line.

When we want to sound sophisticated, we use high-brow language: Six Sigma, OnBoarding, Rubric.

However, the problem is that our customers and employees have little-to-no idea what we’re discussing.

And sometimes, when we want to be specific, we risk using terms that mean different things based on the industry: Achievement, Bonding, Delegation, Enrollment, Gatekeeper, Grandfathered, Network, Rehab, Service Area, and Waiting Period.

Does Bonding relate to a mother and child, a company doing business in town, or teeth? Is a Delegation addressing something in healthcare or at the United Nations? Is the Gatekeeper a function in healthcare, a secretary who won’t let you see the boss, or – literally – a gate keeper?

When we use terms, we can’t assume that the customers know the terms. We can’t assume that if it’s used in our industry that the customer knows what “Enrollment” means in healthcare because their only exposure to “Enrollment” was at their child’s school.

The words matter, and we need to make sure the words are simple enough to be understood without requiring a detailed glossary to explain everything.

Go to your company’s website. Look at the patient or fan or employee or customer flyers and handbooks that you distribute. Give access to the website and these documents to people who know nothing about your business; ask them to read the information and interpret what it’s saying.

Make sure the words you use are clear enough to be understood. Simplify the Vocabulary.

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The Customer Decides the Company’s Fate – 9/2/14 TOW

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week 1 Comment


Argue with the title if you want – “Nobody decides MY fate!” or “I’m in control of my own life.” or “Our nutty CEO decides our company’s fate.”

Feel free to make whatever argument you’d like to make (and I’m sure many are valid), but here’s my perspective. I’ve worked with local government organizations where community complaints about a particular agency cost the leader his job and cost the municipality millions of dollars in rework that also served as repentance.

I’ve seen professional sports clubs where the dwindling attendance caused executives to lose jobs, or the teams spent millions more than in the past to acquire new fans through marketing, advertising, and sales efforts.

There are so many healthcare organizations today whose CEO is seeing that their government reimbursement is being impacted more and more by the results of patient satisfaction surveys.

In other words, the customer’s voice matters. . .BIG TIME!

That means that we have to listen when they care enough to complain. We have to have a process of frequently soliciting feedback to understand their feelings, perceptions, plans, and suggestions. We have to ask at the end of conversations about experiences so we can fix issues on the spot, and so we can find out what they really liked.

The customer deciding our company’s fate means that once we have them, we have to create a culture that seeks to serve. We have to view them for their lifetime value, not transactional amount. We have to nurture the long-term relationship rather than focusing solely on the task at hand. And we have to become so vital to them, so trusted by them, so much in relationship with them, or so pleasing in their experience with us that – when the fateful decision is made – they decide to stay and grow with us.

In other words, if everyone in the organization truly believes that the customer decides the company’s fate, how would we be different than we are today?

Ask the question, and then live the answer.

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