A Prescription For Happier Customers: Treat Them Like Patients

A version of this post was originally published by Jeffrey Newman as part of his series and upcoming book, ‘Quality Quality — Building a Quality Assurance Program That Changes Employee’s Lives and Improves Your Customer Experience’ 

 

If you’ve read the title of this post, you’re probably thinking I might need to go see a doctor myself. And I get it. Making your customers feel like they’re at a doctor’s office is probably the last thing you want for them (especially in today’s environment). 

 

But I truly believe that the best analogy for the kind of consultative conversations our employees should have with customers is best reflected in the doctor-patient relationship. So bear with me here. 

 

When you think of a typical check-up with your doctor, it probably goes a little something like this: 

 

Step 1: Fact-gathering and probing. Your doctor asks you a bunch of questions (like ‘How long have you had your headache? Where does it hurt specifically? What’s your pain like on a scale level?), all the while taking copious notes throughout. They might also look at your past history to see if there’s a pattern to what you’re complaining of. 

 

Step 2: Recap of facts (and more probing). Once that’s done, they’ll likely do a summary of what you’ve said, to make sure they have all the facts right, and ask if you have anything more to add.  

 

Step 3: Diagnosis and next steps. With all the facts at their disposal, they can now begin their diagnosis. That might mean writing you a prescription, addressing further questions from you, or recommending more tests. 

 

Step 4: Follow up. And finally, if there are test results to relay, or they’re just an extraordinarily caring doctor’s office, your doctor (or someone from their team) would follow up with you to provide your results or see if you’re feeling better.  

 

If your doctor skipped or rushed through any one of these steps, you’d probably be leaving their office a little bit perturbed, wondering if you should get yourself a second opinion. Neither should you see the following happen:

  • They allow you to self-prescribe the issue. 
  • They stop themselves while fact gathering to make a diagnosis, then change their mind to diagnose further. 
  • They allow you to recommend the medicine you need based on an ad you saw or the results a friend or family member had with a similar headache. 

And while, admittedly, your employees are giving significantly different advice than the medical kind, the foundation of these interactions are the same—they’re both about getting to the root of the problem, and prescribing the right solution. 

 

That being the case, why should the process of getting to that solution be any different? 

 

Yet time and again I’ve seen companies focus solely on the idea of keeping Average Handle Time as low as possible (though this is a trend I’ve noticed is being increasingly bucked nowadays). Employees are encouraged to resolve an issue and move on to the next customer as soon as possible 

 

But my question then is how can you be sure your employees have truly understood your customer’s problem, if they’ve barely scratched the surface of it?  

 

Among the countless benefits of this approach (more of which I will explore further in my book “Quality Quality – Building a Quality Assurance Program That Changes Agent’s Lives and Improves Your Customer’s Experience”), here are a few especially pertinent ones:

 

A more efficient interaction. While your agents may take longer with a customer to get a full understanding, taking those extra few minutes make for a more efficient interaction, reducing the likelihood that a customer may reach out again with a follow-up question or clarification. That means aquickerinteraction overall, and a better outcome for the customer, the employee, and the company. 

 

A more loyal customer. Exceeding your customers’ expectations inculcates loyalty in them, which you don’t get by simply satisfying their needs. That makes them less price-sensitive,more likely to buy from you again, and active advocates of your brand. 

 

A more engaged employee. Allowing your employees the space to take on a more investigative role, versus just patching issues quickly, gives them a greater sense of ownership in their role, which means they’re more engaged and less likely to churn.    

 

If your current Quality Assurance program does not teach and encourage the consultative approach with this doctor-patient mindset, might I recommend reviewing your program to see what changes should be made to do so?

 

… 

 

This post was contributed by Jeffrey Newman, Customer Care Manager at Porsche Cars (North America) where he oversees the operations and quality assurance across their contact centers. Jeffrey’s passion lies in quality assurance, and sharing his eponymous ‘Newmanisms’ with the world (which is what he calls the lessons he’s gathered over his 10 years in customer care) in the hopes of helping agents reach their full potential and ensuring customers receive the best experience possible. He is currently working on his debut quality assurance and training book ‘Quality Quality — Building a Quality Assurance Program That Changes Employee’s Lives and Improves Your Customer Experience’.

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