Got Milk? Providing Good Customer Service Is Intentional–And Essential

providing good customer service is no accident.Is providing good customer service a priority for your business? Can you afford for it not to be?
A few months ago, I took my son for a checkup at the office of a medical specialist about half an hour from our home. Even though I had written confirmation of our appointment time, the office was crowded with several other patients who also had appointments at the same time.
The office staff admitted it was their fault; they were having a problem with their scheduling software. Still, they sent us back home, without so much as an apology. I lost an hour out of my day.
I was so mad I asked my husband to take my son to the rescheduled appointment. The same thing happened! Fortunately, he already knew the story, and I had advised him to insist on having my son seen no matter what. He was, but not before they shook my husband down for payment exceeding our deductible, up front. Later, they told me our insurance had been cancelled, which it wasn’t. It cost me another hour of my time to straighten that out.
I suppose that because this doctor is one of the few practicing his specialty in this area, he thinks providing good customer service isn’t necessary. But in this age of social media and online reviews, any business in any industry really needs to look at how their customers experience their services.
Providing good customer service is a hard thing to do. Even in industries that are known for providing good customer service, such as retail and hospitality, don’t always get it right.

Got Milk?

For example, during a recent trip, I stayed in two hotels where the customer experience was dramatically different.
The first hotel offered continental breakfast each morning, which included cold cereal, muffins, hard-boiled eggs, waffles and coffee. The first morning, I went down to breakfast to find a half gallon jug of milk in the refrigerator with only about an inch of milk left. No one was there to replenish the food. The eggs were peeled and under a plastic dome, and the waffle batter was in small cups to pour into the grill. Since there was no one around, the food just did not seem appetizing to eat. So, my family and I went to the local diner to have breakfast.
The second day, I went down to have cereal and again, the amount of milk left was so little that it was almost gone after I used a half cup. The third day, I got up at 6 a.m. and was the first person to open that half gallon of milk. I was determined to get my money’s worth!
The second hotel too had a continental breakfast. But what a difference! There were 15 people in the room eating. Two staff people were there cleaning tables and restocking the food. There was plenty of milk for my cereal!
After breakfast, we walked across the parking lot to go to our room, and I noticed three buckets. They were labeled “clean towels”, “dirty towels”, and “water.” The hotel had put them out so that the travelers could wash their windshields.
This small gesture sure sunk in with me, and I searched my mind. Am I providing good customer service? How hard do my customers have to work to get the value out of they money they spend with me? Where in my business do I only provide a half-empty carton of of milk to my clients and have them think, “Really, that’s all I get?” How can I make sure they experience the extras of having clean towels available to wash their windshield after many miles of traveling?

Make It Intentional

Providing good customer service has to be intentional. Think about how your customers or clients feel when they work with you.  Yes, you have to master the basics in your trade. But you also need to think about some extras that you can do that don’t cost a ton, but really speak volumes about how you care about your customer’s needs.
I don’t think of my business as particularly customer service-oriented, but at least once a  year I sit down with my staff and we put ourselves in the shoes of a new client and try to understand what their experience with us feels like–from the first phone call, to the proposal, to the experience they’re having three months into their relationship with us. We look for ways to make things simpler and easier for both our customers and our staff.
What my business really sells is peace of mind, so I also like to focus on the finishing touches that show that I care. I really work with my staff on phone manners. We send hand-written notes, birthday cards and , so we can be that hotel with the clean towels. And, we make it structured and procedural so it becomes part of our company culture.
As this goes to press, I’m putting together an anniversary gift for a client that’s been with me for 8 years now. I’m also
looking for a new doctor for my son.
About Renee Daggett

Renee Daggett is the founder and President of Admin Books, Inc, a bookkeeping and tax firm. She is also the author of “Your Financial Flight Plan: Pilot Your Business To Profitability”. Renee lives her life with purpose and helps her clients find peace of mind as they achieve success in their businesses.

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