Went to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned. The hygienist called me in about fifteen minutes after my appointed time. Not terribly late, but I did mention it when I walked into her torture chamber. And guess which of the following was her response:
- Give me a break
- I usually wait for two hours to see my internist
- I have to wait hours when I see my dermatologist
- I apologize. I am running a little late, but I won’t rush your cleaning.
The correct answer is that she said all of the above—except for the apology. Again, I realize that a quarter hour delay is no big deal. But blowing me off about it is. When I thought about it later, and tried to figure out why it bothered me, I realized it was because I felt as if I was being taken for granted. I think that a new patient would only have received one response…the apology. And none of the excuses. But because I have been going to the same dentist for quite a while, the hygienist sensed, correctly, that I would cut her some slack. She was counting on our long relationship, along with inertia.
Inertia meaning I automatically go there, never think about switching dentists, it’s simply easier to continue. But the larger point is that you shouldn’t reserve courtesy for your newest, most tentative clients, assuming that existing clients, because they always have, always will remain with you. It is like restaurants that offer discounts to first-time customers as inducements, while they ignore their, pun intended, bread and butter clientele.
To continue the restaurant metaphor, bad customer service has killed more relationships than bad food. Don’t rely on habit, inertia or simple routine to keep your customers coming. Rely on treating them extremely well.
Got the idea?