A Tale of Two Experiences With Customer Service

I am big believer of treating others as you would like to be treated. So when I have to call or have some sort of customer service interaction I keep this rule in mind. Recently I have had two customer service experiences that were about as opposite as you can get.

The first experience was at our local veterinarian. Both the dog and cat were due for refills of their flea medications. When the husband called to request these he was told that the animals would need to be seen for an exam before they could refill the prescriptions. Because it was close to the holidays and knowing how much that was going to be, he requested that the appointment be after the first of the year. They agreed and said they would dispense a one month refill to get us by until then. It would take 24 hours before the refill was ready, but we could pick it up anytime after that. Fast forward two days – we stopped by the clinic to pick up the medicine at 2:00 in the afternoon. When I got out of the car I was met in the parking lot by one of the staff who asked me what I needed, note “what I needed” not “how can I help you?”. I told her I was there to pick up medicine for our animals. Without asking any questions or giving me a chance to explain any further, she informed me they were in the middle of a staff meeting and that I would have to come back after 3:00. She did not ask what sort of medicine it was, if it was any kind of emergency situation, just that they were unable to serve me during their regular business hours. The tone in her voice was one of inconvenience, as though I was interrupting a highly critical procedure or crisis. Never mind that I was the customer, there during their normal posted hours, attempting to give them my money. Based on her attitude and the utter lack of communication on their part, we will no longer be doing business with this clinic.

The second experience I had was with an insurance company. I went in expecting the worst, mainly because it’s health insurance and past experiences of dealing with them while working for a chiropractor some years ago. After getting through a ridiculous number of prompts and irrelevant information I reached an actual live person. Darren was very pleasant from the get go and easy to understand (always an added bonus these days when calling what I expected to be a call center). I explained my situation to him, confirmed the answers to his questions, and he was able to take care of my issue without any hair pulling, up selling or any other hoops that I would have to jump through. A few things that stood out from this experience were the fact that it was not a call center that I had reached, but the actual insurance company offices, that they have a significant number of long term employees and they promote from within, and lastly, that when you address a cs rep by name they are quite surprised and pleased that you took the time to notice and use their name. Darren even went so far as to thank me for using his name and said most people don’t do that and typically start off the conversation by yelling at him. I don’t understand this logic. If you are calling someone for help, why would you be so combative right off the bat? Would it hurt to take a minute, address them as a human being with a name, explain the situation, and let them try to help you to the best of their ability. While the call did take almost a half an hour, we had a pleasant chat during the wait time, he shared with me a bit about the company and their work environment, and proved to me that this was a company I would continue to do business with based on the way they treat their employees and customers. And it turns out the problem I had was a computer glitch and an easy solution was found.

So as we approach the end of this year and look forward to a new beginning in 2015 I challenge you to keep in mind this one simple rule – treat others with the same respect as you would have them treat you. You’ll be amazed how much more pleasant and enjoyable your life can be.

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