Are you delivering a P.L.E.A.S.A.N.T customer experience?

The receptionist at my local physio clinic failed to deliver a P.L.E.A.S.A.N.T experience

Recently, I became a customer of a local physiotherapy and chiropractic clinic.  At the first visit (the diagnostic) everything went well and I was delighted that my ‘consultant’ was able to see me the next day to work on me.  I turned up on the day and walked into reception.  The receptionist did not greet me – interesting that I noticed that.  So I took a couple of steps forward and told the receptionist my name and that I had turned up for my 10:50 appointment.

The receptionist looked into her system and told me that the appointment was scheduled for 11:20.  To which I replied “That’s odd, this appointment was made yesterday and it was for 10:50!”  The receptionist (a young woman in her 20s) simply looked at her screen and replied that the appointment was for 11:20.

What got me was the attitude.  It was an attitude of I don’t care, I am not interested in you or your issue.  Furthermore, it came across that the computer system was right and I was wrong!  I remember thinking how difficult is to say (genuinely): “I am sorry we messed up, does this change cause you a problem?”  And then simply give me the space to air my concern or upset.

Here is simple checklist to help you deliver a P.L.E.A.S.A.N.T customer experience

Polite and courteous – are you using appropriate language to welcome your customers?  Do you say hello, good morning, good afternoon, goodbye, thank you, what can I help you with today etc?  Do you greet your regular customers by name?  In my view this is a neglected area especially with younger members of staff – too many simply do not get the critical importance of politeness and courtesy in human to human encounters. In my case, the receptionist, did not greet me with even a simple “Good morning”.

Look and listen – do you look for opportunities to listen to customers?  Do you give your customers undivided attention?  Do you listen to what is unsaid as well as what is articulated in language? Do you pay attention to your customer’s body language?  In my case, if the receptionist had listened to me she would have got that I was concerned about leaving my children on their own for an extra half an hour.

Eye contact – do you establish and maintain friendly eye contact leaving your customers feeling that you are interested in them and what they have to say?  In my case, at the clinic, the receptionist spent more time looking at her computer then she did at me.

Appearance – do you appear approachable and friendly when faced with a customer in person or on the phone?  Do your clothes make the kind of impact that the customer expects in your setting?  Does the website/retail store make the right impression?  How about the appearance of the location?  In my encounter with the receptionist, I remember thinking “She belongs in a beauty salon or behind a perfume counter, not in a health clinic!”.

Smile – are you genuinely pleased to hear from / see your customers?  Even if you are not, do you put on a smile (not  a big fake grin) to make your customer feel welcome? In my case, the receptionist did not smile once, though my ‘consultant’ made up for this when she welcomed me with a genuine smile (at least it occurred as genuine).

Anticipate – do you care enough about your customers to anticipate and cater for their needs?  I am talking about more than event driven marketing.  For example, why is it that physio clinics provide uncomfortable seats in the reception area?  Do these people not get that the reason most people come to them is because they have some kind of back problem?  Or why do these clinics not go that one step further and anticipate that many customers would welcome access to videos that show them how to do the recommended exercises?  The key to this step is to step out of the ME circle into the YOU (Customer) circle

Nurture – how well do you nurture the relationship with your customers?  Are you eager to hear from your customers?  Do you make it easy for them to contact you with suggestions, questions, complaints?  Do you get back to them with what you have done to act on their suggestions, complaints, questions?  How eager are you to actually serve your customers?  Does this come across to your customers?  Do you remember their birthdays?  Do you say thank you by providing special recognition or offer?  Do you ask for their help in improving / growing your business?

Truth and trust – are you truthful with your customers?   Do you regularly and consistently build trust by delivering on your promises?  Do you acknowledge your mistakes truthfully and set about clearly to make things right and rebuild trust?  Do you give customers all the information that they need to make an informed decision?   Do you publish the ‘bad reviews’ as well as the ‘good reviews’? Do you promise only what you can deliver?

After this experience I am left puzzled: why?

I made a visit to see my doctor today to get his assessment on the results of the blood tests.  It was easy enough to see the doctor, he greeted me warmly and had already reviewed the results of the blood  test.  So far so good.  Then he went on to tell me that there is a problem with ….. and that he will prescribe tablets to deal with the issue.  He gave me the prescription note and enthusiastically told me that the good thing is “you no longer need to pay for your medicines as you can get an exemption certificate from the dispensing chemists”.

So I wandered out of the doctor’s office wondering what exactly is the issue?  What will this medicine do?  How long will I have to take it?  What are the side effects?  And then I wondered why it was that my doctor, a friendly chap who takes his job seriously, did not anticipate and thus address these questions with me.

When I turned up at the chemists I handed over the prescription note and told the lady “My doctor has told me that you will issue me with an exemption certificate as I no longer need to pay for my medicines”.  She looked at me puzzled and told me that on the contrary the doctor has to issue, sign and forward the paperwork to the national health service so that an exemption certificate is issued.  Nonetheless, she told me that she would issue the prescriptions without charge and advised me to go and see my doctor to get the paperwork done.

So while I was waiting for my medicines to be prepared I made my way to the doctor’s surgery and relayed my conversation with the chemist.  The receptionist then pulled out the relevant form and asked me to fill it in – including the medical condition that made me eligible for the exemption.  I told her that whilst I could fill in my personal details the doctor would have to fill in the medical part as he is the expert.  She accepted that explanation, I filled in the form, signed it and left on the promise that she would take care of it.

As I headed back to the chemist to pick up my medicine I wondered why are people and institutions so inconsiderate.  Why had my doctor, a good doctor in so many ways, not:

  • Anticipated  and answered the normal questions that a layperson is likely to have when you tell him that an important part of himself  is not working properly;
  • Anticipated and dealt with the concern, the fear that a normal person has when you tell him that as a result of prescribing him this medicine he will no longer have to pay for any medicines;
  • Complete the medical exemption certificate for me so that all I had to do was sign it.

So this evening I did the research via the Internet to answer my questions and concerns.  It looks like the medicine  is a hormone replacement medicine.  And that once you start on this medicine you take it for the rest of your life.  Perhaps that is why my doctor acted as if I was being prescribed a treat.

Which leaves me asking the question again:  why, oh why, do experts (e.g. the Doctor) behave in such an inconsiderate manner towards the lay person?  Whilst the normal person (the lady at Lloyds chemists) who has no medical expertise was so helpful and considerate: she told me what I needed to do and she did the right thing by looking at the medicine and checking with the dispensing chemist (another expert) that I was eligible to get my medicine free of charge.