It's a service economy. Or, it’s an experience economy. You’ve heard one of those before, right? Actually, if you own or run a professional practice (MD, Attorney, eye care, CPA, Physical Therapy, etc.), it’s both. You are providing a service and it is the result of the service and the experience around the service that counts.
Let me tell you about my recent dental experience. Wait you are saying – no one likes to hear about the dentist. It is never a good story. Well this one is, and it is illustrative of what I said above.
I recently had to have 2 crowns done. Never a fun experience, and in my past, a very clunky one. You know, one trip for a temporary crown, another for the permanent one and probably a third trip for the permanent because it wasn’t done correctly or didn’t fit just right.
When I arrived at the dentist for a scheduled 2-1/2 hour appointment, they apologized immediately because they had an emergency visit and were running 15 minutes behind. And when I did get seated, the dentist – Dr. Eric Moskowitz – also apologized and made the point of telling me that he values my time and tries his best not keep people waiting. He then did a great job of setting my expectations about the process and the time it would take.
Over the next couple of hours he took 3d pictures of my teeth. Did the grinding work to get them ready for crowns, took pictures of the teeth stubs, designed the crowns (with the help of really cool dental CAD software) and then had an on-site, computer driven, milling machine, make the crowns.
During the milling process, which takes 20 minutes or so, he made sure I had his wi-fi password so my iPad and I could stay busy.
After fitting the crowns, he then put them “in the oven to bake”, and when finished, installed them permanently. I was in at 10 and out by 1. One trip. And for a dental visit, a great experience.
Compare this to the foot and ankle practice where I checked in 5 minutes early, never had my name called to acknowledge I was there (I signed in on a clipboard). And after waiting 20 minutes past my appointment time, went to the front desk to tell them I was leaving. All they could say was “do you want to call to reschedule” and then as an afterthought, “sorry for the wait”. They have my cell phone and email. They know they are running late. Even the airline sends me a text when a flight is running late. This was not a good service experience.
Or the eye care practice where the exam was great, but after 2 months of trying to buy a pair of sports glasses, I have given up because they have to special order the size for me to try on; then they forget to call me when they come in. And when I do go in, they have either shipped them back (because I didn’t come in soon enough) or they are closed (even though their posted hours show they should be open).
The takeaway, if its not obvious, is that the service is the whole experience. Not just what happens when you get into the dentist’s chair, the doctors exam room, or the checkout counter.
If you aren’t sure about your customer’s experiences all the way through; ask them. Have them rate each part of the experience, not just the whole. Or have someone “shop you” and report back on their experience.