Everyone you ask says their point of difference is excellent customer service. Seriously, if you ask someone what sets their business apart we all say….it’s the service. But you know as well as I do that most of us are lying.
How do we know?
We rarely get excellent customer service.
I left this Beth Moore conference this weekend spiritually uplifted, but physically a mess. No voice, coughing and a tight chest. I went straight to a walk-in clinic that my nurse friend said was the best.
The oh-so-excited-to-be-there receptionist looked at my insurance card and said, “we don’t take your insurance.” She handed back the card with a dismissive look.
“Well, no-one really takes my insurance and I have a super high deductible anyway, so I will just pay for it.” I have been in this conversation before.
“The minimum charge” she challenged, “is $250.00.”
“Ok, well I am really sick so I will just pay it.”
“Alright. You aren’t in our system. It will take awhile.”
Oh my gosh. You do not want me to use these services do you? You win.
I tell her, “I guess I can go down the street to another walk-in I have been to before.”
This got the first smile yet from her. “That is probably a good idea.”
I am not exaggerating. If this was a privately owned small business, the owner would have died. Yet, this is on their website:
With hundreds of doctors at more than 60 health centers, Ochsner makes it easy for you to start feeling better, faster.
It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t fast.
As a small business owner true excellent customer service is a game changer.
Doing it is. Saying it isn’t.
Saying you have the best service, even if you do, doesn’t mean anything anymore. If you don’t, it is even worse. However, if you can provide excellent customer service, especially in your target audience’s mind, you will truly differentiate yourself. The great thing about it is that you don’t even have to say it. You don’t need to advertise it.
If you truly have great customer service, your clients and customers will tell everyone for you. But, this is one where you have to show it in actions. Be consistent. Match the needs of the client.
A week later, even after I went to the other walk-in clinic and found out I have bronchitis, I still feel lousy. So, before I get to the weekend again, I am trying to get into a doctor. My ENT couldn’t fit me in. They are actually pretty good about seeing you on time so that is a service I value. But, they were not working very hard to try to get me in. He is busy. I get it.
This got me dialing my primary care doctor’s number. I dialed with trepidation because I knew that he had moved to one of those MDVIP programs and I had not signed up. When the receptionist answered I humbly explained that although I had not signed up yet, I would, and that I have been a patient for 8-9 years.
She didn’t scold me for not signing up.
She didn’t say anything to rub my nose in it like “well we try to tell everyone that Dr. Day will not be able to see you after this date. I am sorry but we can’t be your doctor anymore.”
To the contrary. She was very concerned.
She (her name was Melissa) said that they could probably fit me in. Melissa explained that I would need to go sign up online, but that they would be glad to call the MDVIP organization and verify for me so they could get me in. I told her I would do that as soon as I got to my office.
Before I could call her back, Madelyn the nurse, called me back to say that they would be able to fit me in on the schedule today or first thing in the morning. (Melissa had given her my information!)
You see the MDVIP program is all about service. The concept is that if they have fewer patients on this program they can and will give them better, more preferential treatment. Saying that on sales copy didn’t mean a thing to me though. I had received all of the correspondence selling me on the program. I saw that was a key benefit. But I never signed up. Because everyone lies and says that they have the best service.
However, when I needed Dr. Day, his team took the extra time to give me the # and url to sign-up. Melissa told me she would follow-up and did. They were fitting me in before they even had verification of my membership.
They walked the talk.
That is truly excellent customer service. Yes I am paying extra for it. No one ever said our services should be free. I would have paid $250 for one Ochsner visit. They literally didn’t want my money.
Do it, don’t just say it.
As a small business owner we can increase sales, get free marketing, build our brand, and make a difference in the world if we just actually PROVIDE excellent customer service.
It is a point of difference available in every industry.
It is a point of difference that speaks for itself.