Last week a friend of mine was diagnosed with a condition that requires a visit to the specialist. Her doctor gave her two names. She called one and the number routed her to an individual who took down all her particulars. When she tried to schedule an appointment, the person on the other end said “I don’t schedule appointments,” and asked her to pick one of two places where the doctor practiced. When my friend hesitated, she was routed to one of the practices, but she was never told which one. When the practice answered the phone and my friend asked to schedule an appointment, she was asked, “Why?” My friend hesitated. “To see the doctor.” “Yes, but why?” “Because….I was referred to him.” “Yes,” (exasperated) “but why were you referred to him.” My friend gave the practice the name of her diagnosis. “We’ll have someone get back to you with an appointment.” Since then…..crickets.
Over the past two days I have been trying to generate postcards from my home computer to my printer. I have created it the postcards on my computer, looked at them via print preview, then printed. And they don’t look the same printed as on the screen. So I adjust what it looks like on the screen to fit what I think it will look like on the computer. Then the print spooler stops working. I look on line to figure out how to get the print spooler working and get that back up. Then, the software, for some reason has to update itself. (I try updating myself by using words like “chilax” around my 16 year old, but I just can’t make it come off.) After the software updates itself, I think I got it down and try to print. It still doesn’t work. Postcard creation time: 1 hour; Postcard print time: 4 hours (and counting).
Last week, an online shoe company, Zappos, sells to Amazon for 880 million dollars. How could a company selling a commodity like shoes in the online world command that type of offer? Because it was known as a customer-obssessed organization.
Whether you are looking to schedule an appointment, printing a postcard or buying shoes, your expectations are that you can do it now. Now is defined as whenever or however you would like. Now is also defined as being able to get the information you need, or your questions answered, right away. Now is speaking with someone who at least pretends he or she is interested in who you are and what you’d like accomplished. Now is that nanosecond that a business has to gain the attention of a customer and register a feeling — if that feeling is anything but positive, that customer will not be back.
That bar for service is set higher than ever. We all need to think hard about the experiences our customers have with us. We need to look at directing the appropriate amount of investment towards enhancing those experiences (and spending less in areas that are not as impactful on those experiences). But most of all, we need to have, and live, an attitude that wants to engage the customer in a positive, fun (yes, fun) way.
Is your company Now? Or is it Yesterday?