I have recently had an experience that really reminded me just how much our interactions with each other truly matter, especially in business.
We have dogs. Two of them currently. We have always had dogs. Growing up Ely and I both had dogs but when we each moved out on our own we lived places where we could not have them. But in 1995 we moved in together and by October 1996 we had our first dog and have had anywhere from 2 – 4 in the house continuously ever since, with the occasional doggy sleepover increasing the in house number as high as 5 or 6.
Our dogs (pets in general) are family to us. They live inside the house, they sleep in our beds, we talk with them (yes, with, they answer us very clearly…), they comfort us and love us unconditionally and we feel exactly the same about them.
So last week during a “routine exam” when we got a diagnosis that means appointments with Veterinarian Cardiology Specialists we were not happy and not a little bit scared for our two boys. On the outside they seem fine but on the inside they have heart things happening that can be very dangerous for them.
Our “primary” vet recommended a place to us. The pet nurses mentioned a different place and a Google search turned up a few more in our area. (*Side note…it is amazing to me just how many of these specialists there are, and sad that they are needed enough to keep them all busy)
So the phone calls started. Checking processes. Checking pricing. Just…checking in general.
I will say everyone I talked to was friendly. They all calmly answered my many many questions. Of course some better than others. But in general they were all helpful.
I also discovered that they all pretty much have the same process and preferred tests or procedures to get you started. They also all have very similar pricing. Well, as similar as can be expected. Some were more, some were less but they all fit within the same range of amounts for the same initial consult and tests.
But…one stood out. It wasn’t their prices. It wasn’t their hours. It wasn’t their location.
It was the girl (woman…) who answers their phone.
There is just something about her that stands out above the others. She is very nice. She sounds like she really likes her job. She sounds like someone that I would like as a person. She is also very knowledgeable. She has known the answer to every question I have asked accept for one.
That one question she didn’t know the answer to came up fairly early in our interactions so I did not “know” her very well yet. She let me know that she did not know the answer and would need to check and call me back. I, of course, (based on customer service experience with completely unrelated businesses) was skeptical as to if I would get that return call.
Within 30 minutes she called back and had the full, detailed answer to my question! I know, right?!?
By my second call she was starting to recognize me. 🙂
I would call and ask a question and she would say “You have…Mer…?” trying to recall their names. She knew who I was, she just didn’t quite have the names yet. I was very impressed to say the least.
The initial calls happened on Thursday and Friday. Of all the places I called (about 7), some more than once, her office is the second farthest away. They were also not the least expensive, not the most, but definitely not the least.
However when Monday rolled around they were the ones I called to make the appointments with. And you know what….? She knew the names that time. 😉
They were closed all weekend. She had probably talked to dozens of people since she had talked with me last. Plus she has her own life things I am sure. But, when I called in and said “I need to make an initial appointment.” she answered with “For Dante’ and Merrick?”
She verified (i.e. repeated back to me) what I had told her about them the previous week. She asked me more questions about their history and she made me feel that she actually listened to my answers. I could hear her typing the whole time. And I was confident it was about us and not multi-tasking doing something else only half listening.
She expressed concern over them. She expressed interest in their lives. And she was very friendly without being “chatty” or fake happy.
Then today I called back. (Thursday, 4 days later)
I asked a question about if the tests are done during the initial appointment or later. I never said my name. I never said I was calling about two dogs and I never said their names. But her response…
“Yes when Dante’ and Merrick come in for their appointment the Vet will do an exam and then do the Echo-cardiograms right there during that visit.”
And that was it. That cemented them. As long as the Vet isn’t a total horror (which I HIGHLY doubt) we are not going anywhere else for this issue…EVER.
I don’t even know her name! But she is my very favorite vet office person this month. She makes me feel heard. She makes me feel that our boys are important to her. She makes me feel secure in my choice to bring them to the office where she works.
I will certainly be posting online reviews (I will be going out of my way to find places to post them) praising her specifically and making sure the office knows what a treasure they have in her (once I learn her name…).
Customer service, how you interact with people and specifically how your “front line” people interact with others will absolutely make or break your business. And this woman is a shining example of how to do it exactly right!
And since i know you are wondering. Here is the information about the office, just in case you know someone in the Portland Area who needs it.