007: Why the Customer Experience Matters
Last week, the air conditioning in our office went out. We can’t operate certain equipment in our clinic at warmer temperatures, and this means canceled and rescheduled appointments, as well as lost revenue.
After discovering that our previous serviceperson failed to leave their phone number on the unit, we needed to find someone new to fix our air conditioner – and my search, the repair, and the follow-up are a perfect study in both how to lose someone’s business or keep a customer for life.
Your customers, patients, and clients are all looking for experiences that no one else can deliver. When there’s a doctor on every corner and so many clinics out there, how do you differentiate yourself, make your clients feel valued, and solve their problems without overpromising or underdelivering?
Today’s podcast is a short study in how I found an AC technician who went above and beyond to deliver incredible customer experiences – and every single thing they did right translates beautifully into providing service as a health practitioner.
- How our office’s HVAC company made a simple, preventable mistake that cost them our business – and how another HVAC service company lost us as a prospect in less than ten minutes.
- What the HVAC service we ended up choosing did differently to make us feel valued, solve our problems, and provide us with reassurance when we needed it most.
- How to get people excited about leaving you a great review.
- Why you don’t need to give gifts, routinely check in with clients who don’t need anything, come across as sales-y or try hard to create incredible customer experiences.
Your clients are waiting for you to deliver an exceptional experience that no one else delivers. - @DrRondaNelson Click To Tweet
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Welcome to The Clinical Entrepreneur, a business podcast that’s dedicated to healthcare practitioners just like you who are hustling every day to build a business and a life you’re proud of. Join me, Ronda Nelson, as I share my own experiences and extract actionable advice from industry experts about what it takes to build and scale a profitable wellness practice.
Well, hello, my friend. Welcome back to The Clinical Entrepreneur podcast. I’m your host, Ronda Nelson and I have a topic that I wanted to throw in the mix today. It wasn’t scheduled, but I recently had an experience that I thought was remarkable enough to share. The last couple of weeks I’ve had guests with me, but this week you just get me, and I think you’re going to love what I’m about to share.
I recently had some equipment malfunction at my Seattle Clinic. The air conditioner went out, and as we all know, it’s hot and it’s summertime! We have medical equipment in the clinic that requires cooler temperatures to operate, so it’s a bit important that we have the air conditioning running.
To give you a little bit of context, our office is in an old warehouse and is about 100-ish years old. Big, high ceilings, lots of asbestos in the ceilings, and lead in the paint. It’s definitely from that era, but all of it is very intact, making it truly a beautiful, old building. They have taken this five-story warehouse and have converted it into many units of smaller offices. Out of all of the offices, and there are a lot of them, we are the only one that has air conditioning. It was just by accident that we ended up getting this suite.
So, when the air conditioning went out in our unit this past week, we knew had to get it fixed immediately or we could not work. Not only would we lose revenue but being in a hot office isn’t providing the best customer service not to mention having to cancel and reschedule appointments.
So here’s the backstory. About six months ago, we had someone come out to fix the air conditioner and they did a good job for what was needed. However, we are now here with a broken air conditioner once again. Granted, the air conditioner is probably 25-30 years old, so at some point, it’s going to have to be replaced. In my mind, I’m thinking, “Oh my gosh, are you kidding me? I’m going to have to replace this? Ah, I don’t want to pay for it.” I’m kind of griping in my mind, but oh well. Now that you have a little context, here is where we’re going to start the customer experience conversation.
Right after the air conditioner went out, the first thing I began looking for is the name of the previous gentleman who serviced our system and have him back again. He was very kind, and I wanted to give him my business. It was a local company and, in my experience, they often leave their business sticker on the side of the air conditioner unit. Well, I’m up on a ladder, looking everywhere on this unit to find his contact information. Part of the unit is inside the building and then the other half, which is the big motor part, is on the roof. I am looking, looking, looking and I can’t find the sticker.
So, here’s where the customer service brokedown for that company. They only came out that one time, and I can’t remember their name, and now I need the air conditioner serviced right away. I thought, “Well, okay. Too bad for you, bud, because I have to find somebody else. We’re completely out of commission over here.” I begin looking through the phonebook. And as we all do, the first thing I’m looking for is who has the best reviews out of all the companies available.
I’m looking and looking and I finally find a place that has decent reviews. I called the up and a woman answered the phone. She’s a little bit snappy on the phone, puts me on hold, and the call gets dropped. I have the type of personality that if I have something that needs fixing, I’m going to get it fixed right away. I thought, if this person is not nice on the phone and drops my call, I am going keep looking.
The next place I found had really great reviews as well, but they were located a little further away. The first one was a bit closer, but Seattle is a big city and a little more distance is okay. I made my second call and the nicest lady answered the phone. I explained my situation again and she quickly replies, “Oh, we would be so happy to help you. I am going to transfer you to the person who only handles our commercial accounts. Would that be okay with you?” My instant thought was “Well, of course, it is!” I like to feel like I’m an important customer and being taken care of. So I said “Sure.”
She sends me over to the commercial service person whose name is Barb. Take note that she is our key player here. Barb gets on the phone and I explain the situation once again. She was immediately on it, asking for our address and pertinent information. Now I’m feeling quite important because I’m talking to the exclusive commercial support person. She continued saying, “We will have a tech out there tomorrow at 9:00 AM” I was thrilled and said, “Great, no problem.”
Right after my phone call with Barb, she emailed me some paperwork. The paperwork had everything laid out and it was very, very clear. She mentioned that before they could send the tech out, I needed to sign and return all of the documents. I was more than happy to do this. I printed it off, signed it, scanned it, and sent it back to her. She sent a confirmation email which let me know she received my email and everything was set for the following morning at 9:00 AM sharp.
The following day, we arrive at our office at 9:00 AM and sure enough, the tech is there right at 9:00 AM as well. As he worked on our air conditioner, he told us exactly what he was going to do, explained the problem to us, and got it fixed. He followed by being really encouraging and explaining that although it is an older unit, he would help us keep it running for as long as possible. This was music to my ears. I don’t want to have to pay for another air conditioning unit if I don’t have to.
Now, so far, this experience has been quite nice for me. I was greeted nicely on the phone, I was transferred to the exclusive person who handles the commercial air conditioning repairs, and she was clear with her expectation while still empathizing with me. And to top it off, the tech arrived and did what was promised.
He was so, so, so nice, gave us his card, and told us to reach out if we had any questions or any problems. After the tech left, I immediately thought, “You know, I should leave them a review because the service was so good and they took such good care of us from the very beginning.”
I don’t know about you, but I often think to leave a business a review, and then I don’t because I get busy and caught up in the next thing I’m doing. Sometimes I think the hassle factor of finding their business online again and finding where to leave a review, prevents me from leaving the actual review. However, I really did have such a wonderful experience with this company.
Moving right along, off we go into the sunset. Two days later, I get a phone call from my staff in the clinic and she says, “Bad news, the air conditioning is out again.” No, no. Really? We now have to cancel the patient appointments once again, since it’s going to get too hot to run the equipment.
I immediately send an email to Barb telling her the air conditioning went out again. She was on it so fast and was just shocked. She immediately replied saying she would send another tech out right away, apologizing and promised that the same tech would come out. That next morning, sure enough, that same tech was there right on time. He explained that it was just a little repair and he fixed promptly. He was so gracious and apologetic. Once again, he let us know to call him if anything goes wrong.
Then the best thing happened. My experience with this HVAC company had already been great so far. Within about two hours after the tech was there, I get another email from Barb saying, “Hey. I’m so glad that the tech was able to fix the problem, and I just want to let you know there’s no charge. Have a great rest of your day.” The pin could have dropped. That’s it, I was done. I was so fast on that computer, on Google My Business, found them, left them a five-star review, and told them how amazing Barb and the tech were.
Now, I already mentioned — and you are probably all like me— I get busy and I think, “I should really leave a review. Oh, I’ll get to it later,” and then later never comes. However, because the customer service experience that I had with them was so over the top exceptional— I mean exceptional— I was all over it. I stopped everything and left a review right then. I wanted to make sure Barb got her credit and that someone knew she is amazing and did such a great job for us.
It made me realize how important reviews really are. That’s how I found and chose this company in the first place. We need reviews for people to trust us and actually come in. How did this air conditioning company get all those great reviews in the first place? The reason they have great reviews was because they provided exceptional customer experience.
If anyone ever asks me, my experience was five stars and great enough that I went and left a review. I know how hard it is to get reviews. I work with practitioners all over the country and it’s always a challenge, but I think that we come at it the wrong way. We think if they leave us a review, we’ll get more people. But I think it’s the other way around. When you provide an incredible customer experience in your clinic, your patients will be compelled to leave a review just like I did. I was compelled. I had to do it because Barb was so amazing. She handled it exceptionally well and communicated every aspect of the process with me. I was not blindsided by anything, even the cost.
How many times in our clinics do we dance around the conversation about price? We’re like, “Well, you know, I don’t know, and well uh, it might be this much or maybe that and I’m actually not sure…” We dance around the conversation rather than being very clear and upfront from the beginning. It’s important to be confident by stating, “This is how it works. Here’s the cost, and here is a form that I need you to sign before we get started.” By doing it this way, no miscommunication happens.
I was very happy to follow the exact protocol with this HVAC company. Then after I followed their requirements to service our air conditioner, they did everything they promised. There was nothing overpromised, nor under-delivered. Then following that, they not only delivered, but they also followed up. The follow up was the part that I loved most.
Now, I don’t know how much that second service call would have cost, but he had to make some repairs which had costs associated with it. There would have been labor and materials costs they had to pay but they absolutely KNOW that this small investment will come back to them in dividends down the road because a) I left a five-star review and b) if anyone ever asks me about who to go to for HVAC repairs, I will refer to them every single time. I will never go with anybody else.
And to top off the whole experience, the service tech actually put the sticker on the machine. Woo, woo! Now I don’t have to think about it. I don’t have to try and remember, who was that? Who did we write that check to? What was that for and who…?” They took away the entire hassle factor. I will give them my business for as long as they’re in business because they were willing to give good customer service and make sure that my experience as a customer was great.
So how do we bring this home? Your customers, your patients, your clients, they’re waiting for you to deliver an experience that is over the top. They can go see any practitioner. There’s a chiropractor on every corner. There’s an MD on every corner. There’s an acupuncturist on every corner. There’s a health coach on every corner. There are lots of clinics out there that patients have to choose from, but what makes yours different? How can you create a customer experience that goes far beyond what they would have expected?
You don’t have to give gift cards or send a singing telegram. It wasn’t that for me. With Barb, it was just the little things that all added up. She was clear with her communication, she did what she said she was going to do, she followed up, and when it didn’t work, she came through and made it right. They spent extra time and money to make sure that the issue was fixed and then there was no charge. They still paid the tech and still had overhead costs. That, my friend, is great marketing. That company now knows that when they take good care of me, that I’m going to be a long-term customer for them.
What can you do in your clinic that makes your experience exceptional for your customer in such a way that them going somewhere else is not even an option on the table? It’s a 100% non-option because you delivered that customer experience that was so over the top that they don’t want to go anywhere else.
I hope you enjoyed my experience, my story. I was so moved and I couldn’t wait to share it with you because it’s so relevant for us in what we do today, especially in a competitive market.
My friend, that’s it for this week. Thank you so much for joining me on the show. I’m glad you’re here. I would love it if you would subscribe. All you have to do is hit that subscribe button wherever you listen to your podcast. Of course, leave us a review. We would love that as well.
I’ll be back next Tuesday with another episode of The Clinical Entrepreneur podcast. This is Dr. Ronda Nelson. You can find me on Facebook @DrRondaNelson. You can find me on Instagram by the same handle. And my website is www.rondanelson.com. Alright my friend, take care. I’ll talk to you soon.
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