Most companies consider customer care as an expense and make every effort to minimize it. While their publicity team touts their exceptional service, cost managers are pinching every penny.
Contrary to popular belief, changing a department’s name from Service to Customer Care doesn’t improve relationships. You have to show customers that you appreciate them and their business.
Last week my daughter and I attended a customer appreciation party at a local business. Most of the patrons are children so the event was designed to please the young and young at heart. There was plenty to eat in the form of pizza, snow cones, cookies, and fruit. Entertainment included karaoke, face painting, sand bottles, and a wildlife exhibit. If any parents were stressed out by the snake or their children’s high energy levels, a mini-massage was available. A fine time was had by all.
I followed my daughter from station to station as she giggled her way through the evening. We rested while watching the karaoke singers warble through familiar songs knowing that it was all heading toward a climatic pie throwing ending.
With two children and a bevy of nieces and nephews, I’ve attended many events designed to delight children and keep parents opening their wallets. This one was different.
The patrons of this business have a short life cycle and usually won’t return after the first purchase. The service is a necessity for most and can be unpleasant.
Can you guess what it is?
The party was the brainchild of Dr. Jeffrey Roeder of Roeder Orthodontics. He has single handedly changed the way I view orthodontia. My perception was based on the experiences of others since I never wore braces.
I remember the complaints about the pain, inability to eat certain foods, and unattractive appearance. When I was pregnant with my first born, I was advised not to worry about college; the orthodontist bills were more fearsome.
Imagine my trepidation when my daughter’s dentist said that he was referring her to an orthodontist. Visions of long nights spent with a child in pain followed by bankruptcy flashed before my eyes.
Our first visit alleviated some of the concern. The office was open, airy, and child friendly. There was a game area, computers, and beverages for the patients and their parents. More importantly, there was energy in the air. It seemed that everybody was there because they wanted to be.
After the initial consultation, we scheduled my daughter to receive braces. It turns out the she had heard some stories, too. She was frightened.
When we returned, she brought her favorite (that day, any way) doll Nikki. When we left, both had braces. It took Dr Roeder and two assistants to wrestle braces on Nikki’s two tiny teeth. I was surprised that they did it. I was amazed at their attitude while doing it. It seemed that Nikki was their most important patient.
We always hear that the attitude makes the difference between success and failure.
Dr. Roeder’s office team demonstrates it every day. Regular visits to tighten the braces could have been dreaded for weeks. Instead, my daughter planned the colors she would choose to adorn her braces. After all, they did need to coordinate with her wardrobe.
Dr. Roeder’s staff keeps the energy flowing after hours. Every staff member that I have seen outside the office seems to be always smiling. It could be that they love showing off their beautiful teeth. I think it’s something else. I suspect that they love their job and it flows over into the rest of their life.
It is ironic that the best example of customer care comes from a business that doesn’t have to do it to be successful. Dr. Roeder is an excellent orthodontist. His reputation insures an influx of new patients. A pleasant office with top notch care would satisfy most parents.
Kicking customer care to the next level changes everything. Instead of satisfied parents, Dr. Roeder has raving fans. When someone asks me about my daughter’s braces, I can’t resist the urge to tell him or her about our experience. If Dr. Roeder cares for any of their children, we rave to each other.
Isn’t this how you want your customers to talk about your company?
- When communicating with your customers, clearly define their options. Before I agreed to the braces, I knew what to expect if we did it now, later, or not at all.
- Price isn’t the most important factor. After meeting with Dr. Roeder and his staff, I didn’t consider price comparison because my daughter and I were comfortable. We trusted them.
- Customer appreciation shouldn’t always have a price tag. The party was free. Throwing a party for your 100,000 customers may not be an option. Surely you can find a way to show that you are grateful for their business that doesn’t require them spending money.
- Target the right person at the right time in the right way. My trust was won when they made my daughter comfortable and clearly explained the options to me. It was a balancing act that they have perfected. What can you do to improve your customers comfort level?
- Take care of your employees. The energy in Dr. Roeder’s office comes from his team. They seem perpetually happy. If their work environment was stressful and frustrating, they wouldn’t look like this every day.
- Look beyond the status quo for creative ways to engage your customers. If Dr. Roeder followed the leaders of yesteryear, his office wouldn’t have the same appeal. Dare to be different.