I recently had a very bad customer service experience while visiting my Veterinarian’s clinic, Bees Ferry Veterinarian Hospital. One of the main Vets was out on vacation and they decided to bring in a temporary Vet to replace her. The “temp” Vet was behind schedule when I arrived. When I finally met with her, she introduced herself but offered no apology for the delays. Not an auspicious beginning. My poor kitty was limping and needed x-rays taken. I dutifully waited in suspense as they took Inky (black cat…not very creative is it?) to the back for her glamour shots.
After 20 minutes, they brought her back and told me the Vet would be back in shortly. I waited 15 more minutes until the assistant returned only to tell me they needed to take more shots of different angles. OK, I thought, now this new Vet is proving to be worth waiting for as she is working hard to diagnose.
They brought Inky back to the room and said the Vet would review again and be with me “shortly”. I waited and waited and nothing. I was going a bit crazy stuck in that little cramped room with no coffee, water or even elevator music. The thick-walled construction prevented cell reception…Quell horreur! I was determined to wait however as taking a cat to the Vet is quite an event for all concerned. Those of you with pets who always KNOW where you are taking them (ie that place where “they assault my body parts and stick needles in me while my owner watches”) understand what I mean. Inky’s mood was not much better than mine.
I waited another 30 minutes in that tiny cell. Finally someone opened the door and whispered, “She’ll be a bit longer. Difficult customer situation”. They rolled their eyes at the last comment. Now I was getting mad. Perhaps I needed to be difficult to get her attention. Better yet, I’ll walk out with Inky and tell the front desk I’m leaving.
I walked to the desk and in my best irritated voice said, “I’m leaving now after she has wasted 2 hours of my time and I still know nothing. She can call me if she wants to but I’m not paying the bill now. You can mail a bill to me and it better be discounted to reflect this poor service”.
When I arrived home 20 minutes later, there was a message from the temporary Vet with no apology, just a short “I saw a couple of things. Call me”. By now, I had had enough of her and did not call back. I waited until the next day and contacted the Vet on duty (Dr. O) who has always provided good service. This time her service was truly above and beyond.
These are the steps she took:
- Empathy & Listening: She said the phrase that is music to every angry Customer’s ears: “I don’t blame you for being upset. If I were you, I would’ve walked out too. This is just unacceptable”. She asked questions and listened to my story without making excuses.
- Personal Service: She said she hoped I would let her make up for the poor treatment I received. She now offered to come out to my house and see Inky there in person to check her leg. When is the last time a Doctor or Vet made house calls unless you own a horse? I told her I preferred to bring Inky back in to the clinic in case more tests or X-rays were needed but appreciated her home visit offer.
- Valued Customer: Now, she added to her empathy by noting that I was a valued customer for many years and she was greatly sorry for what had occurred.
- More Value: She said that given my experience there would be no charge for the X-rays. In fact, she said there would be no charge for the follow-up visit with her other than any shots or medicine needed. My continued business was more important than the lost revenue from one visit.
- Appreciation: Dr. O thanked me for being a long time customer and added “Thanks for telling us about your bad experience so we could fix it”.
Dr. O, in just a few minutes of conversation, managed to calm me down and demonstrated that the poor service from the “temp” was not the quality of service I could expect from their clinic. And, she made me feel valued again.
I took Inky back in the next day. When I arrived, I wasn’t sure what the staff would say but all were apologetic and so happy to see us come in. Having the staff be so positive added to my Customer Experience.
Oh, and I almost forgot…the temporary Vet was let go. Apparently she had managed to upset other customers and staff besides me.
Dr. Oldham…you can come train customer service reps with me anytime!
>>>>>>> Follow-up: Inky has taken a turn for the worse due to cancer spreading. By the time you read this she won’t be suffering anymore. It’s the least we can do for our special furry friends.
Filed under: Call Center, Contact Center, Customer Communication, Customer Experience, Customer Loyalty, Customer Retention, Customer Service, Customer Service Skills, Proactive Customer Service, Training Tagged: | customer experience, Customer Service, Training