Customer Service 101: The Customer’s Perspective

customer-serviceI recently had an opportunity to experience excellent customer service from the opposite side of the coin (as a customer). Since we don’t always take time to reflect on experiences we have in our personal lives and how it might translate into business, I thought it would make a valuable lesson to provide some insight into the client’s perspective. As a bit of a change from my normal posts, here is an outline of my experience and what made the provider so successful in my mind.

To give you some background, we recently received news of a serious diagnosis for my soon-to-be-born son. We’ve been facing a tremendous amount of uncertainty, desperation for answers and fear of the unknown while we were undergoing a series of exhaustive tests at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Here is what CHOP did to make them a top contender on my list of organizations providing excellent customer service.

They were responsive.

From day one dealing with the hospital, we had a contact person. She was available by phone and e-mail to answer all of our questions and concerns, schedule appointments for us, send us directions, and to get us time with doctors who could answer our questions. When she was out of the office, she connected us with a co-worker who filled in for her. We experienced no disconnect with communicating with the hospital and never felt lost in the sea of a huge organization.

They considered our needs.

Whether it was making sure we had time to get lunch during busy days, having a binder to collect all of our paperwork, or providing a comfortable place for us to sit and wait, we felt completely taken care of.

They listened and didn’t hold back valuable information.

We had a lot of questions, concerns and areas where we simply needed more information. Although I’m sure they regularly hear many of the questions we asked, they answered every single question thoroughly as if it was the first time they’ve explained the topic. We never felt like they we trying to placate us by only giving us positive information; we felt that we got complete and accurate answers to every question. One of the doctors even drew us a diagram to further explain what we were discussing to give us a clearer picture of the situation.

They made us feel important.

Like most of us, I’ve had my share of doctor and hospital experiences where I felt like I was being shuffled out before I even had a chance to digest what they said. Let’s face it, the health field is a busy one and it’s rare that you get the undivided attention of a doctor or nurse for very long. During our experience, we had what felt like unlimited time with the doctor. He was relaxed, unhurried and completely focused on us. Not only did he spend a lot of time with us individually, but he even stopped and chatted for a bit in the lobby as we were getting ready to leave the hospital.

They followed up.

After we returned home, our contact person followed up by phone and e-mail to let us know when our next appointment would be and to give us a chance to ask any other questions. And although we’re done with that phase of testing, they haven’t written us off. They are keeping the lines of communication open and have encouraged us to contact them as necessary. They will continue to be accessible to us as we navigate the rest of this process.

While this is a personal story and the type of customer service may be different from how you interact with your own clients, I think these are universal principles of customer service that can help any professional be successful in making their clients happy.

Do you follow these customer service principles in your business? What would you add?

Image credit: Dominik Gwarek

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  • StubbyD

    This is fab – in total contrast my eldest was in hospital recently for suspected appendicitis and we were frequent;y left in the dark and any question we asked felt as if we were intruding.

    My number 1 customer service mantra (whether I’m the giver or receiver) is: keep me / them informed. So long as I know you’re talking to me then I’ll be happy.

    It would appear that CHOP have got this one sorted.

  • http://netparticles.com/ KnightDaemon

    There is one more thing that can make you exceed all customer service expectations in my opinion: anticipate needs.

    By anticipating needs, you will truly cater to a new market of high maintenance customers, the ones who are themselves proactive and will be your best allies.

  • http://www.tyssendesign.com.au Tyssen

    Sounds like they’d need to be on top of their game in the customer service department because any hospital with an acronym like ‘chop’ is going to make some people nervous ;)

  • Nir

    Amazing, I wish we had this kind of customer service.

  • http://www.idea15webdesign.com idea15

    Your experience has shown that exceptional customer service is when your customer is clearly going through a difficult time and you choose to gently support them rather than patronise them or, worse, take advantage of them.

    I’m sure I speak for everyone who looks forward to your fantastic posts when I say that we’ll be keeping you and your little boy in our thoughts.

  • http://www.outsourcewebdesign.in featuredhost

    While the points you mention are quite regular, it is undoubtedly important to keep rehashing them time and again . :)

  • Customer Care, Service & Support

    It’s fantastic, when there are these good customer services

    Customer Care, Service & Support