Recently I took on a new job (in addition to my current duties as CEO of YesTrak). One that has been the most rewarding of my life, while also the most challenging… father of a 2 year old! For those of you parents out there, you know what I mean…
For my wife Bee and I, Jake is our greatest creation (or at least he shares the honors with his baby sister Scarlett). He wakes up every morning with a smile on his face, and throughout the day he constantly reminds us of what life is really about. He’s our pride and joy!
However, that doesn’t mean our days aren’t filled with their fair share of challenges… There are moments we find ourselves struggling just to get the simplest of messages across to him.
‘Rationality’ is a term he cares little about – therefore, we’ve been forced to fine-tune our strategy. So much so that I’ve learned some valuable lessons that have actually changed the way I think about customer service. That’s why I put together these ‘3 Valuable Customer Service Lessons Our Toddler Taught Me.’ I hope you enjoy!
Despite the many safe toys Jake has to play with, at least once a day he will pick up something that we don’t want him to play with (a rock from the backyard, a stick that fell from a tree at the playground, etc.). While we would love to be able to remove everything in the world that could potentially harm him, we know that’s unrealistic. That’s why my wife and I believe it’s better to teach him right from wrong now so that no matter what he comes across in the years to come, he’s more apt to avoid making a costly mistake.
While it would be easy for us to just say NO every time he touches something he shouldn’t, the problem is that toddlers learn to ignore the word NO very quickly. In fact, continued use of the word actually evokes more misbehavior as toddlers love attention, even if it’s the wrong type of attention!
Therefore, instead of just saying ‘no’ when he’s touching something he shouldn’t, the better strategy is to invite him to participate in a new activity. Something safer and more exciting for him.
For example, rather than say, “No, Jake put that rock down right now.” we can say, “Jake, you know playing with rocks is a bad idea—come over here and let’s kick the soccer ball around for awhile.”
If a customer asks a question you know you can’t say ‘YES’ to, get them excited about an alternative solution. Often times, an alternative option may be just what your customers need.
If the caller wants to know if you accept an insurance you don’t accept, instead of outright saying NO, a better way to respond is, “Many patients that have contacted us wondering if we accept that insurance have actually opted for our cash plan, which saves them money in the long run and allows for a better care strategy since we don’t have to worry about what is and what is not covered by the insurance provider. Would you like to know more about our attractive cash plans?”
What may seem obvious to a 2 year old is not as obvious as you think. For example, if we ask Jake to pick up his toys, we’re assuming he knows what that means. However, picking up toys is actually a several step process that is beyond what Jake can even comprehend. In reality, he understands one, maybe two, instructions at a time.
Therefore, the better way to teach Jake about cleaning up messes is to be very specific with our requests, “Jake, can you please take your toy truck and place it in the toy chest?” Then once he completes that task, we can then make another request, “Thank you Jake, can you now walk your book over to the cabinet and put it with the other books?” So on and so forth.
Have you ever asked a customer do something you thought was so simple, and instead they just decided not to use your retin a services after all? Chances are, you have (even if you weren’t aware of it). The reason it happens is because the task seemed simple to you, but to your customer it was above and beyond what they were expecting, willing and/or able to do. Therefore, they determined it was in their best interest to look elsewhere.
Instead, the better approach is to walk your customer through each and every process you maintain. Never assume your customer knows what to do next — ask them if they need help, always. The best department stores in the world maintain a simple store policy for their employees: If a customer asks you where something is — don’t tell them where it is, walk them to it. Very simple, and tremendously impactful.
HERE’S AN EXAMPLE OF A COMMON MISTAKE MANY BUSINESSES MAKE:
A front desk staff member will book an appointment with a new caller and then say,
“Thanks for booking your appointment with us Mr. Jones. Now before you come in, please visit our website and download our forms and have them completed by the time you arrive.”
AND VUOLA! THE RESULT IS A NO-SHOW.
Why? Having the forms completed ahead of time may make life easier for you and your staff, but it doesn’t make life easier for your customer. Instead, the better way to handle is: “Thanks for booking your appointment with us Mr. Jones. Many of our new clients/patients find it quicker to have their forms completed before they arrive for their first visit. It just saves time versus having to complete everything when you get here. Is that something your interested in doing? If so, I would be happy to show you where those forms are located on our website.”
Early on with Jake, he would get fixated on something he wanted and my wife and I would just turn the other way in hopes the whining would disappear… then 2 minutes later we would wonder why his baby sister Scarlett was crying (soon realizing Jake proceeded to take his frustrations out on her!). Who’s fault was that? Ours for assuming ignoring the problem was going to make it go away.
The lesson learned is that by not dealing with the problem right then and there, the damage became exponential. Instead, we saw far better results when we immediately stopped what we were doing to explain to Jake why he wasn’t going to get what he wanted, while also offering up an alternative solution. Handling this way serves two purposes:
Jake gets attention (which is often times all he is looking for).
Jake gets time to process our response and comply with the solution (versus wondering why his request is being completely ignored).
As a business owner, there are just certain times you may be away from the office, out of town, or just too busy to handle all of the incoming requests your customers are making. Therefore, you may think it’s ok to ignore some of those requests… However, we assure you it’s not. Doing so has severe consequences on your bottom-line.
Instead, let your customers know that you received their request and guarantee that you will look into it and resolve within a certain time frame (60 minutes, 24 hours, whatever interval you know you can meet). In reality, that’s all your customers are looking for. They don’t expect things to get resolved on the spot — they just want a reasonable response. Furthermore, they appreciate that you are busy running a thriving business (which is why they chose you in the first place) and will always allow you the necessary time to investigate the matter thoroughly before responding.
HERE’S AN EXAMPLE OF HOW THAT MIGHT PLAY OUT IN YOUR BUSINESS:
Your customer contacts you at 8pm at night and seems upset. He or she wants to know why they were charged an amount they weren’t expecting to be charged. Instead of ignoring the request, or even worse, sending them to voicemail (which is a no-no we will discuss next), “Mr. Jones, I understand your frustration. Before I reply though, do you mind if I research this some tomorrow to better understand what may have occurred? Is it ok if I get back to you within 24 hours?”
This approach works perfectly for 2 reasons:
Now let’s take a look at your voicemail situation: Plain and simple, if you are sending callers to voicemail when you can’t get to the phone, you are ignoring your customers. If their call is truly as important as you say it is, then pay someone to answer it live— morning, noon and night. Waiting until the next day to check your messages is simply unacceptable in today’s fasted-paced, ‘need it now’ society. Furthermore, Forbes reports that 80% of your callers will hang up the phone upon hearing your voicemail greeting— so most of the time, you aren’t even aware your customers are having problems.
Ignorance is definitely not bliss when it comes to customer service. So avoid the costly mistake of sending people to voicemail. If you need help, give YesTrak a try – we’d be happy to take your calls when you can’t get to them!