A week ago I called my doctor’s office to schedule an elective procedure. A procedure that I did not need to get, a procedure that I was more than ready to pay full fee for, and one for which I was paying cash (no insurance, no copays). Now for me, finding time to schedule appointments, let alone actually go the doctor, is tough, as I am sure most of you can relate. Nevertheless, this was important to me, so I made the time to call for an appointment.
After three failed attempts to connect with anyone at the doctor’s office, two solid busy singles, and one time dropped while on hold, I finally got through. As I explained that I wanted to make an appointment, the nice young woman on the phone said that their computers were down, and asked if I could call back in a few hours. Really? Call back in a few hours? At that point, I was getting pretty frustrated, and I explained to her how many times I had tried and failed to get through in the first place. So, I asked if there was any way I could just email her, stating that given my schedule and her phone challenges that it might be easier for both of us, all the way around.
She quickly explained that they do not use email for that (making appointments), and while patients could communicate via email with the practice, they were not allowed to make appointments that way. At that point, I thanked her for her time, hung up, and found a practice and a doctor that I could both make my appointments and communicate with via email and text.
This entire scenario got me thinking about professionals, medical and others, that I speak with that are frustrated with the lack of loyalty of patients/customers, the price competitive environment, and the other challenges of running a business today. It got me thinking: do we really understand how important a customer is in today’s market place, and how easy are we, really, to do business with?
When I called that doctor’s office I was ready to buy and ready to schedule, and this was their “sale” to lose, and they lost it. They lost it not because of the competition, not because of price, and not because of my lack of loyalty. They lost it because they did not understand the four strategies that you need to attract more customers, win more business, and close more sales.
- Embrace The Shift – Embrace this new economy, and understand it is not up or down, it is different. We have literally gone through an economic shift, moving out of a push economy and into a pull economy. In this economy what you sell has become a commodity, but how you sell it is your competitive advantage. My doctor’s office was living in the past, still focused and competing on what they offered (their services and procedures) and not understanding customer service is the path to growth and profitability.
- Understand The Customer – The customer is in complete control. You see, far more than this economy has changed, customers have changed. They are highly knowledgeable, highly skeptical and squarely in control. They know they have a choice about from whom, where and how they buy the products or services they want. My doctor’s office wrongly thought that they could tell me how and when to make my appointments, miscalculating that I had other options – their competitors.
- Listen Closely – Being able to listen is one of the most powerful strategies in building businesses today. It was clear my doctor’s office was not listening, and was not interested in what was important to me. And by not listening, they lost the sale. They thought I was buying the product they were offering, but if they had listened they would know I was looking first for convenience and ease of use. I knew I could get the product anywhere, it was the care and interest in me I was looking (and willing to pay) for.
- Flex & Change – Face it, times are changing and you need to change with them. Maybe what your customers are asking for or what they need is not what you are currently offering, but how hard would it be for you to flex and change? You need to be open, pay attention, and anticipate the changes your customers want and need. My doctor’s office was already communicating with patients via email, how hard would it be to learn to make appointments that way?
Yes, in today’s economy competition may be tough, margins may be thin, and customers may sometimes lack loyalty, but I challenge you to question whether you are doing everything you can to put your customers front and center and become even easier to do business with. So take the challenge, adopt these four strategies, and understand that in today’s economy customers are precious!
Click here to subscribe to Meridith’s monthly newsletter and get the latest business growth updates, sales insights, and tips to increase your profits!
Motivational Keynote Speaker & Business Growth Expert, Meridith Elliott Powell works with clients to help them instill ownership at every level to ensure profits at every turn. Meridith is the author of several books, including her latest, Winning In The Trust & Value Economy: a professional’s guide to business and sales success. When not keynoting and leading workshops, she looks for inspiration cycling, golfing or hiking her favorite trail. https://meridithelliottpowell.com