One of the fastest ways you can undermine your customer promises or claim that your customers are your #1 priority is to MAKE ME WAIT.
A point driven home to me last weekend, when I took my daughter to the optometrist for a routine checkup, booked a whole year in advance.
The office had a WHOLE YEAR to plan my experience. They had a WHOLE YEAR to ensure that they weren’t overbooked for the day. But at least all that time spent waiting gave me a chance to write this blog post.
Arriving 5 minutes before my appointment, we were checked in and paperwork complete by 9:45. And we waited. 10 o’clock rolls around, and we waited. 10:15, still waiting. At 10:23, 38 minutes after they promised to provide us with professional services, a waiting room finally “opens up” where we wait for another 5 minutes. Finally the good doctor comes in, spends a whopping 10 minutes with us, pronounces that there aren’t any changes to prescription and asks us to rebook in — get this — another whole year.
Wonder how much I’m looking forward to that?
The theme of my 2013 Marketing Calendar for Small Business was “12 Ways to Cheat at Marketing,” and after my customer experience last weekend, I simply had to add this 13th way to cheat at marketing.
Because many of your competitors are going to make the mistake of making people wait.
You can differentiate your business and make your customer experience exceptional by simply being on time. Doing what you said you’d do, when you said you’d do it. Getting that patient to the chair, that client to the service area, the car, home or other big ticket item done and signed over when you said you would (or even better, when the customer said they needed it!)
When you overbook or over-promise and I wait, I know who you think is most important in our relationship.
Whether I’m spending $3 on a coffee, $30 on a bang trim and brow wax, $300 on an eye exam and glasses, $3,000 on major dental or medical, $30,000 on a car or $300,000 on a house, you tell me, by making me wait without explanation, that your time is more valuable than mine. That you are more important than me.
Nothing tells your customers that they truly are your #1 priority as does your attention to their time and convenience. And nothing drives away your customers faster than the feeling that you simply don’t care (as a reminder, in an article I wrote last year about how you can make employees care about your business, I shared that survey after survey says the #1 customers stop patronizing a business – 68% of the time – is due to the perceived indifference of the business owner or employees).
Here’s how to prove that customers really are #1 with your business through the customer experience:
- Be on time and never make people wait without explanation, apologies and amends
- Be open and available at times convenient for your customers
- Empower staff to make exceptions, create flexible policies and allow for judgment calls
- Address and resolve dissatisfaction as quickly as possible
- Go even further for your best customers
Make it as easy as possible for buyers to:
- find you
- schedule with you at their convenience
- contact you for information
- provide you with feedback – good or bad – and suggestions for improvement
- speak to decision makers when there’s a problem
- share what’s awesome about your business with others
Be on time. Doesn’t it sound so very basic? And yet, think about all of the times that you wait. And wait. And wait.
Think about all of the customer experiences you have where you don’t feel like customer service is a high priority.
Maybe the secret to being amazing isn’t doing amazing things so much as it is actually doing all of the little things that you say you’ll do, fulfilling on all of the promises you make to customers, including a scheduled appointment time.
Get 12 Ways to Cheat at Marketing, if not for the help of the marketing calendar inside, for the 12 marketing cheats within!
Coming Soon: A Free PDF Worksheet that will help you discover your “Customer Convenience Score”
Why 70% of Your (Former) Customers Disagree (12monthsofmarketing.com)
My 2015 Small Business Marketing Calendar is available on amazon.com — in print or digital format. It is absolutely packed with marketing inspiration and a working content marketing plan you can use to attract – engage – retain and motivate your customers in the coming year.