“Find Your Pot of Gold”
Life Lessons Series: Six of One Dozen of the Other- "Find Your Pot of Gold"
I have always considered feedback from a customer to be a rare and special gift. It is like discovering your very own Pot of Gold. Good feedback can reiterate the right team, processes and services are in place that bring a smile to your face knowing your hard work has been realized. Negative customer feedback, while at times painful to experience, provides a roadmap to know exactly what experiences customers are having, what changes need to be made to reduce pain points and ways to better your offerings.
I thought this blog would be fun to start off with a recent “Six of One Dozen of the Other” lesson in my life.
Last week I went for some long overdue lab work to be able to revisit my doctors. Like many Americans- I took a pause during the Pandemic. My doctor helpfully sent the lab order directly to a local lab that has several locations within a few miles of where I live. I had upcoming travel and wanted to get in to the lab while I was still in town. I looked up their locations on the internet to find the closest location with the earliest opening time. I got up bright and early, arriving 10 minutes before the lab opened. I was literally the only car in the parking lot. At 1 minute before the hour, I walked to the suite door and was greeted immediately by a lab technician. His reception was pleasant, he welcomed me in and asked if I had an appointment. I said no and he directed me to an iPad on the counter to sign in and then take a seat. I did and smiled to see I was referred to as “Patient 001.”
While I waited, another lab technician walked in the front door and wished me a good morning. A few minutes later a third lab technician (“Tech #3”) walked in the back door with a huge scowl on her face. Her body language and facial expression left no doubt that she was not happy. I thought maybe she had a late night. Within a minute, “Tech 3” came walking into the lobby with purpose. (The term walking with purpose was coined for one of my friend’s daughters that use to walk fast looking down with a very serious expression. She fell constantly and was forever covered in bruises and scraped knees!) “Tech 3” asked me if I was “Patient 001.” I thought this was amusing since I was literally the only person in the lobby. She asked me if I had an appointment to which I responded I did not. Again a little amusing since to be tagged as “001” I had to indicate my non-appointment status on their iPad when I signed in. Also her colleague who let me in the lobby asked me this specific question to which I had responded no. I thought maybe she was not yet ready to greet her co-workers and instead questioned me directly. Once again I responded that no, I did not have an appointment.
“Tech 3” told me that they were booked solid and could not take any walk-in appointments. I looked around the lobby and said “I am the only one here.” She responded that there were patients who had checked in and were waiting in their cars. I looked out the window to the parking lot and my car was still the only one in the lot. I told “Tech 3” directly there were no cars in the lot. Her response was that they were refusing me as a walk-in customer because they were so busy. She then told me that there was another lab down the street that she thought opened in a few minutes.
I looked up the location of the other lab and drove 0.4 miles down the street. I pulled into the parking lot and knew immediately the lab was not open. Here I was quite literally the only car in the parking lot. Clearly “Tech 3” knew this and used it as a ploy to get me out of her lab. I got back on-line, this time to look for hours of operation, locations and any available appointment times. I found a third location, this time 3.4 miles away that had an appointment in 14 minutes. I quickly booked the appointment and drove over. When I walked into the lab, every seat was taken. There were patients sitting in the hallway. There were 3 people waiting in line to talk to the receptionist. I read the signs and walked over to the iPad for patients with appointments. I signed in and before I could turn around, my name was called. Within 5 minutes of walking in, my blood was drawn and I was picking up my handbag to leave. I thanked the phlebotomist and told her of my experience at the other location. I really felt for this gal. Because the other locations were refusing employees, she was frazzled. I definitely did not think this was a job in which she earned commissions. My surmisal was that she and “Tech 3” are compensated very similarly. I wanted this gal to let management know of the lack of balance in their operations. I shared what had happened in the other location in an effort to help this hard-working phlebotomist. I wanted to be sure she knew her day was extra busy as a result of other locations pushing customers unnecessarily to her location. The phlebotomist apologized to me for my experience. I truly don’t think she did anything with my gift of feedback. The lab company did not send me a customer satisfaction survey and I could not find anywhere on their website a place to offer feedback.
There were so many places where this lab company and its employees went off the rails:
Varied service offerings; two of the three employees appeared to be willing to accept walk in customers.
An attitude of indifference; abrupt and dismissive demeanor.
Immediate impact on business volume; zero customers in the lobby.
Unethical business practices; blatantly lying about customers waiting in their cars which was refuted by a quick glance out the window.
Unethical business practices; blatantly lying about a full schedule for what turned out to be a five-minute appointment - one of the three employees could have easily helped me.
Unethical business practices; mis-representing the opening time of another location 0.4 miles away.
Management, or in this case lack thereof; no visible local management.
Ineffective operational workflow; no tangible process management in place to have locations so close to one another with extreme variations in foot traffic.
Attention to detail; no customer satisfaction survey was sent after the appointment despite their use of technology for scheduling.
I read this Linked In post on Customer Feedback a while back on by Bob Hiatt and loved it. I think it sums up the practices of this lab well.
“A lot of companies are afraid to talk to their customers. They fear bad reviews and negativity. They even go so far as to consider their feedback as a complaint. Customer input should NOT be avoided. It should be WELCOMED as an opportunity to learn how to make your organization more successful.
If I had spinach in my teeth and I am talking to you face to face, I would want you to tell me that there is spinach stuck there. Customer input is an opportunity to find out the places where the spinach is stuck in your company's teeth. Talk to your customers. Your end users. Find out how you are doing and how you can do better to serve their needs. Stay open and available.”
To close this post, I also found this list of 49 Best Quotes on Feedback 49 best quotes on feedback (cognology.com.au). They are all extremely good, I especially like the top 20. Read these. When customers present feedback, listen and do not speak. Hear what they are saying. Sleep on the feedback received before acting on it. The next day, define specifics for how you could wow this customer if given a second chance.
"We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” - Bill Gates
“Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.” – Frank A. Clark
“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” – Ken Blanchard
“Feedback is a gift. Ideas are the currency of our next success. Let people see you value both feedback and ideas.” – Jim Trinka and Les Wallace
"Mistakes should be examined, learned from, and discarded; not dwelled upon and stored.” – Tim Fargo
“What is the shortest word in the English language that contains the letters: abcdef? Answer: feedback. Don’t forget that feedback is one of the essential elements of good communication.” – Anonymous
“There is no failure. Only feedback.” – Robert Allen
“Make feedback normal. Not a performance review.” – Ed Batista
“True intuitive expertise is learned from prolonged experience with good feedback on mistakes.” – Daniel Kahneman
“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” – Elon Musk
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Examine what is said and not who speaks.” – African proverb
“Employees who report receiving recognition and praise within the last seven days show increased productivity, get higher scores from customers, and have better safety records. They’re just more engaged at work.” – Tom Rath
“There are two things people want more than sex and money… recognition and praise.” – Mary Kay Ash
“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” – Winston Churchill
"To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” – Elbert Hubbard
"Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.” – Yehuda Berg
“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” – Tony Robbins
“Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.” – Paul J. Meyer
“Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.” – Buddha
So What is Your Life Lesson….
Do you receive feedback from your customers regularly? If not, how can you get their feedback?
Do you present active listening when your customers speak?
Do you process and act on feedback? What techniques do you use to disseminate to employees?
Do you send formalized customer feedback surveys?