It is my pleasure to introduce Kaarina Dillabough, former Olympic coach and current make-your-life-and-business-better coach, as our first guest poster. Kaarina is the perfect person to launch the Customer Service Stories series, because she has an engaging way of telling a story while still being able to analyze the systems and actions behind a customer experience. Kaarina brings an incredible energy to everything she does, and you owe it to yourself to check out her website and blog when you are done here.
I recently had the pleasure (cough) of being referred to an endodontist in the “big city”, for the even more extreme pleasure of having a root canal done.
Ever heard the expression, “That was as much fun as a root canal”…yeah, that’s how much I was looking forward to it.
I figured that, since this endodontist’s practice was in a swanky metropolitan section of a big city, I was in for not only a painful procedure, but a hoity toity reception. After all, preconceived notions are often how we, as consumers, first judge a business.
I did the math in my head…8 years of training, post-graduate work, high rent district…yikes! Will I have to mortgage the house and give up my first-born to afford this? And surely they won’t give a sweet rat’s patootie about me.
Here’s what actually happened:
My driver and I (I’d already been given all the applicable instructions for the day, including having a driver for post-op) pulled into the parking lot and were pleasantly surprised to discover that the first 2 hours of parking were free. Good start.
A friendly janitor and clear signage continued the positive experience. But when I reached the huge double oak doors with gleaming brass doorknobs I thought: “Oh oh, here comes the money pit and the hoity toity.
Boy was I wrong!
From the moment I opened that door, the customer service and customer experience were unsurpassed.
I entered the office and absorbed the ambiance and physical space. Pale green walls. Softly hued artwork. Comfortable seating in the waiting room. A flat screen TV (volume on low), a specialty coffee maker and current magazines were all perfectly positioned…hey, I could move in here!
The staff took the experience to another level. Each one contributed to an atmosphere that was serene and controlled. From the receptionist who greeted me, to the professional demeanor of each and every staff person, the atmosphere was one of quiet competence. Smiles were abundant. Good manners prevalent.
It was the perfect tone to set apprehensive clients’ minds at ease.
I filled out paperwork (with a beautiful pen they told me to keep: bonus) and sat down. I felt like I was in someone’s welcoming home.
When the Dr’s assistant came to get me, I’d just tucked into the most recent issue of the Harvard Business Review (OK…I confess…it was People magazine), and thought…OK, the party’s over.
But it wasn’t. It just kept getting better. And imagine: I’m in for a root canal!
I was provided a cozy blanket to ward off any chill; the Dr. came in, outlined the procedure in a calm, comforting voice, and in 10…9…8…
When I awoke, I still had my cozy blanket and, when asked by the smiling assistant if I was ready to leave, I was tempted to say I’d like to stay and nap a bit more (I’m sure they would have let me), but I nodded and we proceeded to the reception area, where I received my post-op instructions.
The next day the receptionist called to check in and see how I was feeling. I was beginning to wonder if they could adopt me.
Why did this customer service experience have such an impact on me?
First, I’d already had a preconceived notion as to what I’d encounter, and that preconception wasn’t a positive one. They say a first impression is made in the first 10 seconds, 90% of it visual. And a first impression is very hard to change.
My first 10 seconds were excellent. Ease of parking: check. 2 hours free parking: bonus. Prompt and clean elevator: check. Kind and friendly janitor: bonus. Great way finding signage: check. Oh, and I almost forgot: a clean and accessible washroom, with flowers and luxurious hand soap, conveniently located just beyond the elevator doors.
The ambiance and physical office space were clearly planned to give a sense of calm. Within 10 seconds inside the door, all fears and apprehension were abated.
The staff: The facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, appearance and movements of everyone in the office didn’t happen by accident. It was evident that specific training had been provided, and each person was contributing to a vision, mission and culture that had been clearly articulated and conveyed. There was a behavior and performance expectation, and every staff person lived up to it.
The systems: From the sign-in sheet (and complimentary pen) to the paperwork to the “processing” of patients, it was like clockwork…an almost lyrical dance of people moving effortlessly through their tasks. This had an obvious impact on those in the waiting room. People spoke in hushed tones. People smiled at one another. There was no sense of urgency, apprehension, fear or agitation in the room.
The procedure: I have no idea. I just know that when I woke up I had a cozy blanket and a smiling assistant at my side.
The follow-up: Superb. How nice to get an unexpected call to see how I was doing, with genuine interest in the receptionist’s voice, and an open invitation to call back (on a toll free number, I might add) should I have any questions.
When we talk about “Customer Service”, part of what we remember is the service part (how well/efficiently/effectively a product or service is delivered and followed up upon). But perhaps more important is the experience: what we felt…the sounds, sights, smells, tastes we encountered…the first impressions, both in ambiance and physical space… the emotions and feelings it created…the mental picture we form and maintain. ..the lasting impression that sticks with us.
So… How do you think the ambiance and feel of a business affects your experience? How much does it set the stage, either positively or negatively, for what comes next? What are the most important factors in creating a great first and lasting impression?
Kaarina is a business consultant, coach and strategist who helps you set and attain your goals, to be the best you can be, in business and in life. If you want to create more success in your life, grow your business and become an even more extraordinary entrepreneur join her at kaarinadillabough.com and subscribe to her content here.
Guest Post Disclaimer: Guest Posts on the Customers That Stick blog are submitted by individual guest posters and in no way represent the opinions or endorsement of CTS Service Solutions, its owners or employees. CTS Service Solutions does not represent or guarantee the truthfulness, accuracy, or reliability of statements or facts posted by Guest Posters on this blog.