Never settle for 'good enough'

I recently read one of those great stories of WOW customer service that I would like to pass along. The staff at the coffee shop was having "one of those days."

By Joe Blaes

I recently read one of those great stories of WOW customer service that I would like to pass along. The staff at the coffee shop was having "one of those days." The espresso machine was malfunctioning, the bakery had not delivered the bagels and sweet rolls, someone from the morning shift called in sick, and the crew from the previous evening failed to restock the cabinets with supplies. If you change the names and the functions, I am sure you all can relate to this.

Several people were waiting to get their first cup of coffee for the day. A woman at the back of the line began to complain loudly: "What is taking so long? Are you growing the beans back there or what? I don't have all day!"

"Yes, we are running on empty this morning," the manager said with a pleasant smile. He motioned for the woman to come forward. "What can I get for you?" he asked. "I want a large coffee with steamed milk, to go," barked the woman.

"No problem," said the manager. He looked past the woman to the other customers waiting in line and offered them a reassuring wink. In a matter of moments, he made the woman's coffee, took her payment, and sent her on her way with a, "Have a nice day."

The other customers stood silently with confused looks on their faces. The manager then said, "Folks, I'm really sorry for the inconvenience this morning. Because you have been so patient, your coffee is on the house."

A story like this always makes me stop and think about how my staff and I would handle a comparable situation in my practice. Would we be as empathetic as the manager of the coffee shop? What could we do to make things right with our customers? We have regularly scheduled team meetings. I often am asked why we have these meetings and what we do at them. Well, stories like this make great discussion material! Everyone participates, trying to come up with ideas on how we can provide better customer service in a variety of situations.

Here's another story I found in Bits & Pieces magazine. It was the end of the semester and time for the final exam of the year. The professor made an interesting proposition to his students. "I know that many of you dread taking this exam," he said. "If you are satisfied with your grade in this class up until now and are willing to have that as your final grade, you are free to skip the exam."

Half of the class members collected their belongings and promptly left the room. "I am completely serious," the professor reassured the remaining students. "You do not have to stay for the final if you feel confident about your standing in this class."

Several more students walked out of the room, yet three students remained in their seats. "What is keeping you here?" the professor asked a young man in the back of the room. "I was hoping to use the final to bring my grade up," was his reply.

"I can understand that," the professor said. "What about you?" he asked of a young woman seated in the front row. "I spent a great deal of time preparing for this final," she said. "The test is the only tool I have to measure my comprehension of the course."

"I agree with you," said the professor. "And you?" he asked of another young man seated in a far corner of the room. "Good enough just isn't good enough for me," the student responded.

"Well," said the professor. "I have to say that you three have just passed one of life's biggest tests. Never settle for what is good enough when you want more. You are now excused. Each of you will receive an A."

Hope you have a great day!

Joe Blaes, DDS, Editor — e-mail: joeb@pennwell.com
Toll-free phone number: (866) 274-4500

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