You know the moment; you’re driving the down the road and you hear something strange happening under the hood. Maybe your first instinct is to force your gaze forward, turn up the radio, and move on down the road? That lasts for a mile, maybe two, before you give into the realization of the situation. You need to see your “service advisor” at the local We Charge Too Much dealership. You begin the process by scheduling an appointment with the super cheerful receptionist. She knows your name, address, as well as the make, model and year of your vehicle. On appointment day, you drive the car in, wait briefly. If you’re lucky, you drive out with a decent loaner. Over the next few hours, you receive numerous update phone calls from your service advisor. A few days later, the car is fixed. You leave the shop with light pockets, but at least you have your baby back. But wait, you’re not done yet!
Enter phase two: The Quality Assurance Survey. You heard about it as you went through the process. Your service advisor said he needed a good review and mentioned it more than once. They may have even intimated that to keep their job, they needed a “10 out of 10” score. Now, I know nothing about the car industry, but I know customer service. I also know the value of good feedback. Therefore, I’m one of those people that always complete customer service surveys. I sit down at my computer and think about the experience overall. My service advisor seems like a great guy, he kept in touch, both before, during, and after my appointment. The girl on the phone was nice; they got my car right in and, yes, the place was clean. Was the price fair? I guess that depends on how you look at it; I can’t fix this fancy car myself so…
The whole process, from getting the appointment, picking up your now vacuumed, washed, fixed vehicle, and completing the survey, probably took about two weeks. In most cases, we all get what we need out of these experiences.
One fine Monday, you feel off balance. You can’t exactly put your finger on it, but something is not quite right with your body. You spend half the day trying to ignore it. Ultimately, it’s kinda like the car thing. You call your doctor’s office and listen through the phone prompts. If you’re like me, you get distracted and have to go through it twice. You squash your index finger into what you hope is the right number on the keypad, and wait for someone to pick up. When they do, you take a big breath and prepare to speak. But before you can utter a word, you hear speedily mumbled words, and then you're put on hold. Eventually, they come back to the line sounding stressed. You secure an appointment for the next day.
As you haul your sick body into the doctor’s office, you start the “I hope the doc’s running on time” prayer. At the front desk, you're asked to fill out paperwork and answer the same questions they ask at every visit. Yes, you think, it’s good that the office is keeping their records up to date. After a 20 or 30 minute wait, they call your name, and you follow a medical assistant down the hall and into an exam room, where you wait again. Finally, the doctor arrives and examines you. You go home with a diagnosis and treatment plan. That’s it. You’re done.
Why does your car dealer put so much extra effort into your working relationship? If you want to grow your business or improve your patient (customer) experience scores, here are a few things to keep in mind. Great customer service and well trained, engaged staff are not optional in any industry. Your employees can, and should, be trained to work at a level that meets the highest aspirations of your mission and vision. If they aren’t, it’s the fault of leadership. The good news is, with some brand training and staff education, this is an easy fix.
Yes, healthcare is a very different business than the car service industry. It's much more meaningful, personal and intimate. That is exactly the reason patients should be treated like very special luxury vehicles. I know I want that as a patient. And, I kind of like to think of my body like a well-oiled machine…maybe even a Maserati! The bottom line is, no matter the industry, nothing trumps excellent service. It’s where the rubber meets the road (sorry, I couldn’t resist).