Customer service is more than just order takingSeptember 28, 2010
Order takers are everywhere. I find them at the local Starbucks, my favorite restaurant, the hair stylist and even the place I get my oil changed. Picture a typical scenario: I go to an establishment, I want to purchase a product or service, and the salesperson checks the box from a menu of options. If I’m ordering a hamburger, an order taker is exactly what I want. However, there are certain times when I want more than an order taker.
For instance, I recently made the leap to a “smart” phone. This was a huge step for a technology misfit such as myself. Until this point, I had not entered the 24/7 world of texting, thousands of apps, the Internet at my fingertips no matter where I was, etc. A phone was just that – a device to call people. So with a little a lot of trepidation, I drove to a local cell phone vendor – at the recommendation of a friend.
When I arrived, I was not shy about sharing my ignorance about cell phone technology. I explained to the sales associate my utter ineptitude. Here was the order taker’s reply – “Which type of phone are you interested in?” Without even asking a question about how I’d like to use the phone and why I wanted one – this person is asking me which box he should check. My reply – “I have no idea. This is how I use my current cell phone and this is what I’d like to be able to do.” He proceeded to run through the standard list of features, but couldn’t relate how I wanted to use my phone with the features he rambled off.
At that moment, I wanted a partner.
A partner listens to my needs. This requires active listening skills; a deciphering of what is and is not being said. A partner takes the time to learn what’s most important to me and how I would like to use their product or service. Then, and only then, do they RECOMMEND options that fit my unique needs. Most importantly, the best partners maintain “sticky” relationships with their customers by always remembering what’s most important to their customer and anticipating future needs.
As I said earlier, order takers are everywhere. Partners are harder to find.
A healthcare organization that we have worked with in the past, is truly an example of being committed to partnership. It is the story of a group of physicians and healthcare providers who had a vision to be true partners with their customers – patients. And they brought that vision to life by forging bonds of partnership with their staff, insurance providers…everyone who has an impact on how their customer (the patient) experiences their organization….before they arrive and even after they leave.
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