If a tree falls in the woods when nobody is there, does it actually make a sound? It’s a classic existential question. How does it apply to your business?
We often discuss here how we only work with “enlightened leaders.” It’s not a joke. It’s a fact. Only the enlightened ones have the insight to realize they might not know exactly what is going on in their business. Customer Experience Investigation™ is all about picking up the rocks and peering underneath. It’s calling out processes that were originally well-intentioned and well thought out, only to be obstacles to customers now. It can get ugly. It can get messy. And sometimes that means recognizing that what has “worked” for so long is no longer working. Your employees might think certain processes work great, but customers don’t feel that way. Those have to change. And change can be painful.
Recently, I had a routine, end-of-year doctor’s appointment. I scheduled well in advance, thanks to online scheduling, which I love! A few days prior to this appointment, the scheduler called me to ask if I could reschedule. The doctor had a family emergency. These things happen, and luckily we could squeeze in something on the very hectic calendar before the end of the year.
I arrived for the rescheduled appointment and was asked to fill out new forms. Nothing had been completed in advance. (This is a pet peeve of mine I’ve written about in the past!) Then I waited. I had arrived early, so I expected some wait. But then I kept waiting.
Finally, 40 minutes after my appointment time, I was shown to a room. The medical assistant confirmed my history, said the doctor would be in soon, and left me in the room.
Another 20 minutes ticked by. Another check in from the medical assistant confirming some information, then some more waiting.
The doctor arrived with a medical student in tow. I have family who have gone through medical school and I understand the importance of this practice. However, I found it odd that in more than 60 minutes of waiting, a few things hadn’t happened.
1. Nobody acknowledged the delay. Nobody apologized. This makes it clear this is business as usual.
2. Nobody asked if I would mind if the medical student joined us. The onus is on the patient to look the student in the eye and say “get out” if he or she is uncomfortable?
3. There was no sense of “thanks for rescheduling” or acknowledgement of my working with them. I could’ve just ditched the appointment, or gone to a new doctor.
After a brief visit with the doc and his protege, I checked my watch again. 10 minutes.
As I was leaving, I noticed the receptionist standing on the other side of the desk, waving me on. She said she does that because patients are always confused about where to go when they leave the examination rooms.
I left completely baffled at how they all thought it was ok. And guess what? I never said a word. I would have, if someone had asked, but nobody did so I just did my usual polite thing and kept my mouth shut. I wasn’t there as a Customer Experience Investigator™, so there’s no guarantee they’d hear what I said anyway.
Business as usual there is broken. And yet they’ve convinced themselves they have “fixes” like confirming information three different times and the receptionist physically putting herself in the path of the exit.
Those aren’t fixes. They are still broken processes. And patients see that every time, I’m betting.
How do you know if your business as usual is broken? You have to get an outside perspective. You have to ask lots of questions.
But, most importantly, you have to be ready to hear the answers.