I have been an RN for 36 years, a childbirth educator for 20 years, and a doula for 16 years. I have worked for Community Health Network in Indianapolis, IN for 27 years. I teach classes, coordinate a hospital based doula program, and attend births in the role of a doula. I have been privileged to assist hundreds of babies into the world and help families have positive birth experiences.
We know that the answer is often somewhere in between, but the fun of this section is that you have to pick just one!
Paper < Plastic
Personalization < Privacy
In-Store Shopping < Online Shopping
Transactional > Relational
Mac > PC
Customer Service < Customer Experience
Captain Kirk > Dr. Spock
Talk < Text
Dog < Cat
Movie Theater < In-Home Rental
What was your first job and what did you learn about customer service in it?
My first job was in a vending business of which my dad was a partial owner. I was a hostess who filled in for different hostesses when they were on vacation. I would change locations every week or two. I filled vending machines, did minor maintenance on machines, cleaned coffee machines, cleaned tables, and made bank deposits from the machines for the vending company.
One of the things that I learned was that since my dad was a partial owner, I had to strive to do my job better than anyone else or it would reflect upon my dad. I also felt I had to show that I was capable of doing an excellent job on my own merit and not employed simply because I was a boss’s daughter.
Since I changed locations frequently, I was constantly the new person. I worked very hard at listening to concerns and seeking resolution to issues that were brought up by customers. Locations where I worked were sometimes office lunch rooms and often manufacturing plant lunch rooms. I was the only attendant to assist customers, so I quickly learned how to prioritize needs, and to help others as promptly as possible since their break time was short.
My goal was to hear that they would miss me when I left and that they would look forward to a time that I might return to cover a vacation again.
Tell us how one outside influence impacted your customer service or customer experience thinking. (For ex. book, movie, sporting event, relationship, travel)
As a doula within a hospital based program, we tend to attract women who have a heart’s desire to avoid medical intervention as much as possible for their birth experience. When labor actually happens, sometimes a mother’s labor or a baby is the outside influence with a far different birth plan in mind. For the mother to look back upon her birth in a positive way, part of my job is to help a mom reframe her thinking.
For example, if a laboring mom is experiencing too much intensity and is exhausted, I might share with her that I admire someone who can change their course of action when they have all the facts that they did not have before. Or I might remind her that if what you are doing is not working, it is a smart move to change it rather than continue with a plan that no longer meets her needs.
Then, after the birth, if a mom starts to second guess her decision making skills again, to talk about what led her to need to change her mind and why her adaptability was a strength.
It could even be an experience during the labor process that eventually led to a surgical birth. A mom might initially be extremely disappointed, but to look at all the things that she did to promote a healthy birth for herself and her baby is important to help her reframe the birth experience in a positive light.
In your own personal experience, has customer service gotten better or worse in the past five years?
I am in the health care industry. For my specific setting, I think it continues to improve. Customers have many choices about who provides their care, and opportunities in these days of social media to share their feelings about the care that has been provided.
Caregivers are challenged to give the most compassionate, efficient, effective care possible, and to help their coworkers do the same. We see people in great need of help when they are in the hospital, and we know that these memories will stick with them and their family members for the rest of their lives. Sometimes a casual remark will be something a patient, or a family member, will recall and talk about for years to come.
If they do not get the type of care that they deserve, the type of care that you would want for one of your own family members, they will go elsewhere. I think this is recognized more than it was previously.
> I consider it a bad customer experience when I am placed on hold for more than 3 minutes.
> In five years, the most important social media channel for customer service will be something that isn’t invented yet.
> The best book I read in the last twelve months was A Fragile Stone: The Emotional Life of Simon Peter.
Photo Credit: Carol Euliss
By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.