As a customer, I have my pet peeves. Food has to be served hot and should not be overcooked from sitting under the warmer. I like my rental car agents to remember that I chose to rent from them and not their competitor, who is literally located next door. I want my health-care providers to be friendly and – maybe I’m quirky – I want a working relationship that builds into a partnership when we’re talking about my health.
When was the last time you really wanted something and you get to the store, only to find it closed? That feels so personal. The store did this to you. They knew you were coming but they shut you out. They already served everyone who matters.
If you’re honestly working to build relationships with your patients, then you really need to watch what you say, how you say it, and the medium in which the message is delivered.
Another item on my pet peeve list is the dental office’s outgoing message that tells me when they’re open, when they’re closed, when they take lunch, the dentist’s shoe size, and what they each had for lunch. Honestly, I don’t want to sit through that AGAIN if I’ve missed a portion of the message and have to call back.
As your long lost friend with whom you’ve had a relationship, I want to hear that I matter. I want to know when we can see each other. “You’re in the right place for exceptional dental care. We’re open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8 to 5 with extended hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Because we value our relationship with you, this machine provides information only and doesn’t accept messages. We truly look forward to talking with you. If you have an emergency, please call 111-222-3333, that’s (say it slower) 111-222-3333. You’re in the right place for great care and we’re glad you’re a part of our family.”
You’re not “closed.” You’re available and letting callers know when you’re available.
You don’t know who’s on the phone when it rings. You – and the tone you use on your answering machine message – need to treat callers as if they’re your long lost roommates from your best summer camp. (OK, maybe that isn’t the best analogy, but you get the idea.) The bottom line is that I’m allergic to the word “closed,” and there’s not enough calamine lotion to stop the itching. Tell me when I, as a customer or patient, can access all the great things you offer. Then reassure me that I’m in the right place. Your patients will appreciate your efforts.
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