08 Aug Maintaining The Customer Experience
Maintaining the customer experience
Welcome to Onswitch’s latest blog, this time looking at how practices can maintain a strong customer experience by working closely with, and communicating clearly to, people. Both those on your team, and those who use your services.
During this lockdown period, we’ll be sharing regular updates that we hope will help your business stay on track during these difficult times. You can also get video updates on our Facebook page, where the team are posting short clips of practical tips, useful information and community welfare advice as and when we think of anything that might help.
Please do let us know if there are subjects you’d like to know more about, and we’ll do our best to oblige – we’re all in this together!
Whilst the customer experience and client journey remain as important as ever, and have not materially changed, what has altered is the context in which they are delivered. With the best will in the world, the health and wellbeing needs of your clients’ pets and horses are not going to be top of anybody’s minds right now. Staying safe and well, maintaining quality of life and household budgets and worrying about friends and family all seem more important than getting booster vaccinations. And with only necessary travel permitted, even getting to the practice poses issues for your customers.
Maintaining an excellent customer experience
The customer experience can be defined as “the sum of all the interactions, shaped by an organisation’s culture, that influence perceptions, across the continuum of care”. Now more than ever the concept of a continuum of care, or customer journey, matters if our clients are to experience our practices positively. Every interaction at every step leaves an impression – from the detailed emergency information on your home page, to the reassuring message on your answerphone and the empathic manner of the person manning the phone.
There may be new communication routes added to the process (web chats, remote consulting, social media messaging etc.), but the overall journey remains the same, requiring every member of the practice team to:
- Sort a plan
- Recommend next steps
Don’t forget to manage your outbound communications proactively (turning off booster reminders for example!) in order to limit the number of inbound calls when headcount is depleted. Encourage clients to self-resource by posting information online and on your social media pages, and don’t be surprised when they keep doing this once we return to whatever ‘normal’ will be.
The ‘now, soon, later’ model is really helpful when communicating in difficult circumstances. The services and care you can offer are limited right now, but you can still make owners feel reassured and engaged by explaining “right now we can schedule a video conference to discuss Bobby’s limp. Soon we’ll be able to get him in for an examination, and then later we’ll be able to carry out a scan and look at a personalised exercise plan if needed.”
Keep your clients informed and engaged, because how they feel about you matters enormously – even more so now.
Balancing the emotional bank account
Clients build up a perception of your practice according to the experiences and interactions they have with it. Things may go wrong from time to time, but owners will balance these minor human glitches against how wonderful the nursing team were when Bobby was ill, and how good the reception team were at remembering his name and producing a biscuit whenever you have visited. We call this concept the emotional bank account – your practice will make deposits and withdrawals over time, but as long as the balance is primarily in the black rather than the red, clients will understand and make allowances when inevitably there are dips in service. Clearly these are times when your emotional account may be dipping into the red, for reasons outside your control. But if you have banked lots of positive Cx input over the years, the present situation will pass with barely a dent to your reputation. The practice – client bond may even be strengthened through adversity.
Strength in numbers
The practice team is always one of your greatest assets, although of course you may not have everybody working right now and those that are may be covering roles outside their normal comfort zone and skill set. It’s crucial to ensure that the team are all kept informed of changes to processes and new decisions. Communicate clearly, simply and regularly with the whole team – email updates are a great way to make sure nobody misses out.
Whether referring to the people you work with, or the people who pay you, Maya Angelou’s famous quote about personal interaction has never been so important:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”