Getting to the root of customer service Featured

7:00pm EDT February 28, 2007

I’m sure you know the feeling; you begin to feel weirdness in your jaw. You’ve had that feeling before so you can identify the problem, but you choose to deny it. Having suffered all weekend long, I found myself in the dreadful chair; the dentist chair. After a fairly quick assessment, all parties determined that I needed a root canal. After a successful procedure, I left the office still numb from the Novocain. As the Novocain wore off, I quickly felt a great deal of pain; very different than what I initially went to the dentist’s office for. The pain radiated along the entire left side of my face. I know now that this can be an after effect of root-canal work, but at the time all I knew was seemingly unrelated and nearly unbearable pain. After attempting to tough it out through a torturous night of throbbing and stabbing sleep depravation, I knew I had to go back to the chair.

Dr. Delgado, a local endodontist, saw my pain and went right to work. Delgado found the cause of the pain, and was able to treat it. What is extraordinary, however, was how Delgado’s office delivered both treatment of the medical need and world-class customer service.

While this was my first visit to this doctor’s office, it surely won’t be my last. Throughout my entire experience, Delgado’s office provided the care above and beyond expectations. From the moment I walked into the door, everyone was very pleasant and understanding. At one point during my procedure, I had to wait for a couple of hours before the doctor could proceed. The dental assistants clearly saw how exhausted I was from the sleepless night before and prepared a private darkened room with pillows and blankets for me to rest. Further, they provided beverages and a snack while I waited. We can all learn something from the way Delgado and his staff take care of their customers. It’s a level of customer service we don’t see every day. I would like to see more companies delivering this kind of service day in and day out.

Great customer service is the best form of marketing that you can deliver. Take care of every touch point to every customer and your retention levels will rise. You’ll also bring in more new clients as your happy clients spread the word to other potential customers. Believe it or not, great customer service is obtained by handling the details. It’s all about the details. The endodontist got to the root of my pain, but it was the way they handled the details that will keep me coming back. From the moment a customer walks into your place of business, the experience begins. Each of us can practice this in our own lives and businesses.

Compare, contrast and dive into the little things you can improve for your customers. The best way to know what your customer wants is to simply ask them. Survey your customers over a period of two weeks, and have them rate your service. Actively solicit suggestions — how can we make your experience better? Mystery shop your competition to find out how you can stand out from the crowd and offer not just competitive, but phenomenal customer service.

Have a customer service check-up with your staff. Look at it this way: if you insist on your staff providing great customer service, you will more than likely be able to spend less on advertising. Word of mouth is a major component in advertising for any company. People are very quick to tell you about their bad experiences with a company, and will always recommend great places as a result from a good experience.

Surely I’m not recommending Delgado’s office as a hotel or a restaurant, but it definitely is a great place to have a root canal.

MALCOLM A. TEASDALE is the principal and “Big Idea Catalyst” of Teasdale Worldwide, a strategic marketing firm headquartered in Tampa, Fla. Reach him at Malcolm@Teasdaleworldwide.com. To obtain more information about upcoming events and possible event sponsorship, visit www.MarketingofDistinction.com. You may also e-mail Kathi Kasel at Kathi@MarketingofDistinction.com or call (813) 868-1520. To view additional articles, register at www.MalcolmOutLoud.com.