I stood there, in my doctor’s office, for what felt like an eternity. After 30 seconds, in a low monotone voice and without ever taking her eyes off the computer screen, the woman behind the desk said, “Can I help you?” I wanted to reply, “Sure, can I get a burger and fries?” but I decided to be nice and replied, “Yes, my name is Joe Marconi, and I have a 10:00 a.m. appointment.” She stared at her screen for another 15 seconds before continuing, “Hmm, Marconi. Let me see, appointment, hmm. OK, have a seat.” Not once did she look my way, make eye contact or make me feel welcome.
A few minutes later, a nurse came out to greet me. She had a big smile on her face, spoke in a cheery voice and engaged in conversation. I could feel my anxiety begin to fade. When we got to the examination room, she continued her pleasant conversation as she took my blood pressure and checked other vital signs. When she was finished, she said, “Mr. Marconi, I hope you have a great week. The doctor will be right in. Do you have any questions for me?” All I could say was, “Thank you.”
As you can see, there was a totally different experience between the nurse and the lady at the front desk. But why the difference? Is the nurse naturally more friendly? Was she born with the ability to connect with people and make them feel welcome and special? Maybe. But the reason may simply be that the woman in the reception area was never taught how to conduct a proper meet and greet or how to deliver world-class customer service.
Here’s the reality. No one is born with the skills needed to create an amazing customer experience. Just as no one is born knowing how to play the piano. A person may have the aptitude, but becoming a great pianist requires being taught and a lot of practice. The same holds true for your employees.
Delivering a world-class customer experience requires that your employees understand how to deliver a world-class customer experience. This must be taught, practiced and reinforced each day. It also must be part of your culture. Another thing, everyone in your company plays a part in delivering a world-class customer experience; from technicians to shuttle drivers to lot attendants and your service staff. A simple thing like making eye contact and saying hello when an employee passes a customer in the parking lot will greatly enhance the overall customer experience.
Consistency is also crucial. No matter how many times a customer has visited your company in the past, there is a level of anxiety that exists. Your job is to reduce that stress, at every visit, and fast. If not, the entire customer experience may be in jeopardy.
Another strategy is to learn something unique about each customer. Do they have children, or pets or play golf? Put that information into your business system so that anyone behind the counter can recall it in the future. Then make it part of your process to prepare for all arriving customers and by also reviewing the customer’s unique characteristics. Wouldn’t it be great to greet Mrs. Jones by saying, “Good morning Mrs. Jones. I see that you’re dropping off your Camry today for the 30,000-mile service. How are your kids, and your dog, Duke?” Bottom line: The world must stop when a customer is either in front of you or on the phone. And again, this must be taught.
As I walked out of the doctor’s office, I said goodbye to the woman behind the front desk. Still staring at her screen, she remained silent. Amazing.