Often when there is a defect in the delivery of service, be it World Class or not, there can be a breakdown in processes that leads to the customer having a less than expected experience.
Who is to blame in these situations?
When things do not go to plan, is the customer always right?
Sometimes what we see on the surface is often an illusion or a ghost that smothers or overshadows the true events….
It’s often easy to look at situations where the customer is kept waiting as part of their experience and place the blame immediately on the business with them being at fault.
But there could be several reasons for the lack of service.
Is there insufficient staff working?
The customer could be being kept waiting because insufficient numbers of staff were allocated to work this shift, or the delays could be because a significant number of staff called in sick this day and the business was left shorthanded through no real fault of its own?
Is there insufficient trained staff working?
Are the staff who are working educated and trained in the appropriate skills to work out what needs to be done and when it needs to be done, in advance, rather than in a reactionary manner?
The ability of good staff to be pre-emptive of certain situations that could occur and be also placed in a position of authority to respond confidently in those situations without having to seek approval from above is paramount.
Do we know the personal situations of all involved in the business?
There could be some personal tragedy within the business that has caused someone to be absent, or someone to be working at a level below their best…. Who is to really know?
I remember years ago working one Monday morning and running late because a toothache patient that I had added into my schedule had turned into a full-blown surgical extraction project that then started to take more time than had been allocated.
As a result of this surgical procedure, I had begun to run behind in my schedule.
As I sweated over the removal of this offending piece of tooth structure, one of my regular patients who had been waiting patiently simply stood up and walked out of my office front door.
When I called him later in the morning to ask what had happened, he simply said this:
“How dare you keep me waiting there while you’re sitting out the back watching the golf”
It seems that he believed that the golf screening on the TV set in the client lounge was also being piped into some private sanctuary back stage where he envisaged I was domiciled with my feet up and a glass of champagne.
And no amount of explaining was ever going to convince this poor chap of any difference.
He’d gotten a bee in his bonnet that because the golf was on the TV in the room where he was and he was seeing, and that I was nowhere to be seen and that he had been kept waiting, then that I must have been inside watching the golf.
And no amount of truth or explanation was going to convince him otherwise.
Where did we fall down?
Well obviously, a failure to communicate the reasons for my delay to this chap went a long way towards him building a belief of an incorrect scenario to be occurring.
And had someone in my office taken the time and effort to go and speak with this chap and explain the situation, then maybe he may have been more understanding of the circumstances.
And I know that I myself as the owner should have been one of those people who should have personally passed on an apology for the delay to this patient.
What’s the lesson?
Everybody’s time is valuable.
And everybody deserves to have their time respected, without assumption.
So if you find yourself in business dealings being taken for granted or actually taking people for granted, then you need to be able to step back, take five, and say:
Time and time again I see businesses develop systems and procedures purely for the sake of having a system and a procedure.
Not for any other point than for the creation of a bureaucratic protocol.
The protocol created acts as a stick in the spokes of the wheel of the business, immediately hog-tying the business and restricting its ability to do what it needs to do first and foremost.
And that is to service its customers.
Take computerised cash registers for example:
I want to buy a can of Coke. The Coke is $2.00. I have $2.00 cash in my hand.
Simple transaction, you would think?
I give the shop assistant $2.00 cash. The shop assistant gives me my can of Coke.
No…..here’s what happens….
I watch the shop assistant tap a screen several times. Maybe six times. Maybe the shop assistant needs to scan a barcode on the can of Coke?
Then I give the shop assistant my cash. She taps the computer screen a few more times. Finally a cash drawer opens and the shop assistant places my $2.00 in your cash drawer.
And then I have my Coke.
It seemed long winded.
Last year I was at Bethpage Golf Course in New York and my match was rained out by a storm early on in the round.
All four players in my group were given a credit to play another day, and so we booked for the following day.
However, when we turned up that next day to play, one of our group was a New York local and his credit had been granted as a visitor. This created a bureaucratic nightmare in the office as several of the poor old staff tried to work out how to balance their books. But all my friend wanted to do was hand over his credit and play golf. He didn’t care that he had been gifted an incorrect [and slightly more valuable] non-resident credit.
All he wanted to do was go play golf.
It took a very long thirty minutes of waiting for these staff to work out how best to bookkeep their error.
For their own records!
While the customers had to wait.
In both these instances the time of the customer had not been valued by the vendor.
In both these instances the customer should have been allowed to proceed unhindered to the exit.
How many times in your business are you making your customer wait while your business goes through its processes?
I tell you, any business that takes its customers’ time for granted is skating on thin ice.
How much do you like it when you phone a business and your call gets put on hold for some time while you listen to a recorded message telling you:
“Thank you for your patience. We value your business and will be with you as soon as possible….”
I’m thinking, if that organisation really valued my business they would employ human beings to spend time with me so that their phones are answered more quickly and more personally.
And they would teach their staff to expediate the transaction processes so that the customer is never kept waiting for long periods of time, while their computerised register does its “through the cloud” stocktake, all on the customers’ dime.
If you were planning a holiday, or a vacation as my US friends would say, chances are you’d have a destination that you specifically wanted to end up at?
And from this, you’d know that to get there you can either drive, fly, sail, or walk, depending upon how much time you had to get there and what would be the best use of that time?
So there would be absolutely no way that if you wanted to go to Anaheim Disneyland and you were heading off from Cleveland Ohio by car, that you could travel that journey in one day?
Well of course not.
For safety reasons and for health reasons you’d probably break that journey up into five or six days on the road, wouldn’t you?
In dental practices, with their businesses, I see a lot of dentists wanting to get to a metaphorical Disneyland by car, but they want to get there by lunchtime on the first day?
As if that’s going to ever happen….
And I also see a lot of dentists out there who want to get their dental practices to that metaphorical Disneyland, but they don’t have any well laid out plan as to how they’re going to get there.
And there’s some dentists who want to get to that Disneyland, but they don’t even know where it is they’re starting out from?
Wouldn’t that present a slight problem?
What are you REALLY talking about David?
There are dentists out there who want to be owning and running more profitable dental offices.
They know that things should be better.
And they know that things can be better.
And they understand things can be considerably better.
But they want it all, NOW!!
They want to just close their eyes, snap their fingers, and voila!
All is better…. like MAGIC!!
The errors in judgements and deficiencies that have caused your dental practice to be where it is are there because they have been ingrained and repeated over long periods of time and can’t be cured overnight with the wave of a wand.
In a similar way to driving off course for a long period of time, you just can’t get back on the right path immediately.
But you can chart a different route…
With patience and with diligence, these errors in operation can be cured.
But to be successful it needs commitment and accountability from you the business owner.
A fat person can’t become a thin person overnight.
Even with the wonders of surgery and gastric banding, the poor lifestyle alternatives that led to the weight issues in the first place need to be corrected, otherwise the weight gain will reappear.
Sadly, the medical profession is coming to the realisation that for weight correction, the expectation of habit change is not a winning path. They are now resigned to the realisation that for the masses, the way forward needs to be a chemical intervention.
Can a person with poor business habits become a financial success and stay successful?
It’s been said that if you took all the wealth in the world and divided it up and distributed it evenly amongst all the people in the world, that within a two year period, most of that wealth will return back to the people who had originally had it in the first place.
Have you ever heard any stories about lottery winners who end up blowing their windfalls on poor business [if any] and lifestyle choices?
Dr Omer Reed told me that at age 65, ninety five percent of dentists cannot afford to retire because they have not been rewarded well for their efforts and saved sufficiently throughout their working lives.
And that to me is a TRAGEDY!!
Especially when you consider the investment of time [in education] and of money and capital [in purchasing or building a dental office].
What’s the reason?
Sadly, some business owners get so attached to their old ways [and poor habits] that they cannot bring themselves to the point of change for the better.
In the same way that a fat person needs to keep going back to the refrigerator for that chocolate ice cream and soda, many business owners have developed and ingrained a series of poor choices that has led them to this point in time.
And in the same way that an overweight person would rather choose to sit on the couch and watch TV rather than go for a jog, the business owner would rather choose to continue doing things the way he’s always done them, rather than to take advice from someone who knows there are better ways that lead to better results.
The Definition of Stupidity
The definition of stupidity is to continue doing the same things over and over the same way you’ve always done them, but with the hope that the outcome may somehow be different.
As if that’s going to happen….
For things to change, first you must change.
The answer is you.
There is no magic bullet.
You need to be accountable.
And you need to take advice.
But most diets don’t work….
Diets do work, if people work and follow the diet, and eat less and move more.
And keep records.
And expect that the weight will go with time. rather than overnight.