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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Fun At The Doctor's!?

Doctor's Office originally uploaded by Lindsey Beyerstein.
When is the last time you had FUN at the doctor's? Seriously.

Well, I'm very pleased to share the following post about a good experience from my friend Marianne Cone, Director of Marketing for Solutia's Ultron and Wear-Dated carpet fibers.

Sadly, it's more common to encounter lousy experiences [see
Sorry Pumpkin! The Labcorp Saga Continues and Hall of Shame Inductee: LabCorp] than good ones. Which makes this post so fascinating.

I was recently at a prominent Atlanta medical facility for a long awaited appointment – you know the drill – find the specialist, make the appointment……. and wait for the month, day and hour to appear on the calendar. I entered the beautifully appointed building somewhat apprehensively partly due to the nature of the appointment, and certainly due to the overwhelming size and specter of the facility. However, a kindly woman at the reception desk seemed to sense my apprehension and, with a wonderful smile that dissolved it completely, pointed me in the right direction.

I entered the doctor’s office and was immediately greeted by the registration person – another very kind and friendly woman. She took all the necessary data to be sure I was indeed who I said I was, and that I did indeed have the insurance to cover such an appointment! But she, too, accomplished her rather mundane task with a smile.

I sat down with the inevitable clip board and forms and was almost immediately called from the waiting room back to the inner halls and rooms of this medical teaching facility. What? No wait? No wondering when or if I would see this revered medical deity? Was it really possible that I would be in and out so quickly? The friendly female nurse who ushered me back said the doctor would be in soon and I thought to myself – ‘ah….this is where I wait.’

But no! In a very few minutes a young woman walked in and introduced herself as a doctor – not the appointed doctor – but the doctor who would be gathering more information for the appointed doctor. My first thought was whether this young woman was old enough to BE a doctor – her fresh-faced look, manner and accent had me thinking she was just off a Midwestern farm. For the next hour we talked…. and talked…. woman to woman. Her earnest interest and seemingly complete lack of any time constraints set the tone for me to share everything on my list. Once her examination was complete she excused herself saying that she and the appointed doctor would return momentarily.

Right! I’m still not completely convinced so I settled in with my BlackJack to catch up on the email messages of the morning. No sooner had I entered my password than the two of them walked in and here was yet another fresh-faced young woman. I felt as if I were in some kind of bizarre scene in which two little girls were playing doctor! For the next hour these two young women plied their trade as doctors. And, I was an integral part of the examination and the diagnostic process – a decidedly new experience since the last doctor I had seen for the same symptoms wasn’t interested in anything I had to say. He acted as if he had a stopwatch in his pocket he was so eager to process me through and out!

It’s a given that these two doctors are very well educated and highly qualified to hold the positions they do at this prestigious facility. Beyond the medical qualifications, however, they are passionate about their field of practice, they are human and they are women. They practice medicine with the nurturing sensitivity of women. They believe the patient is integral to their practice of good medicine, and they share their knowledge and expertise with each other in order to achieve the best results possible. Furthermore, they were completely uninterested in whether I was impressed or even aware of the demands on their time and skills. I can say without reservation that women are the best thing that has happened to the practice of medicine!

Here's why I really like this good experience. Marianne -as do most consumers- expected a bad experience. She expected to wait, to be treated as a number rather than as a person, to encounter unhappy or surly people. Instead, she received personalized attention. So, you can imagine her surprise and delight in having each subsequent element of the experience be even more positive than the last. Not only did she leave extremely satisfied, but she has been talking about it. Pretty powerful!

Furthermore, this medical institution has put great effort into hiring the right people: professional, courteous, empathetic, and competent. Is it a coincidence that Marianne encountered primarily women? I don't know, but everyone she met obviously made a difference. Each one was committed to delivering that personalized level of attention! How many of your employees are that committed? Which ones are more empathetic and better listeners? Can they share some of those skills with those less adept?

In case you don't believe how important it is to truly focus on your customers, consider this 3/6/07 article from E-Commerce Times titled
Personalized Customer Care: It's More Important Than You Think by Philippe Gaillard. I found the first part of the article particularly relevant as it discusses how important customers are to our business, and the criticality of improving the customer experience.

How might you turn your customers' negative expectations upside down to deliver a totally fun and positive retail experience instead?

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