Kim started her day full of high spirits. In her hand was the to-do list she had been putting together over the past three weeks. Finally, she was going to get those things taken care of! She’d taken the day off – a precious vacation day – but it was going to be worth it to get everything done. Kim was looking forward to rewarding herself with a movie and dinner after all the tasks were complete.
First stop – the dentist.
Kim arrived 10 minutes early for her 9:00 a.m. appointment. She had made the appointment three weeks earlier. Knowing that dentists book certain time slots for certain procedures based in part on how long the procedure takes, when she called, Kim told the person making the appointment that she needed to have a crown replaced and specifically asked for a time slot that would allow the work to be started on that visit. She had been assured that this was done.
And it was!
Kim settled into the chair and participated in the usual procedures. X-rays were taken, an exam was given…finally the dentist comes in. After reviewing the work done by his staff person, and performing his own exam, he announced “you need this crown replaced”.
“That’s what I’m here for” smiled Kim.
“Let’s get you scheduled to come back in a week to take care of this.”
“Uh, no…that’s why I scheduled the appointment today – to have the crown replaced.”
“We did the exam today. I don’t do crowns on a first visit. We can get you back here in a week.”
“But when I called, I told her I needed a crown. I asked for a time slot that would allow the work to be done – I know it’s not done all in one visit, but I expected to start today.”
The dentist swung around in his chair to look at a wall chart. “Yes, this is a slot for that…but we don’t do crowns on a first visit.”
Let’s just leave this part of the story by saying Kim didn’t get the crown work started. What a waste. If the office had a policy of not doing anything other than an exam on a first visit, why didn’t the person making the appointment inform her of this?
Let’s not even get into how ridiculous it is to have sitting in the chair right in front of you a patient who had made a specific request, was booked into a slot where it could be accomplished, and the practitioner - sticking to his “policies” – refused, leaving an empty hole in his own schedule. Please dentists, don’t write me explaining why it couldn’t be done…stay with me here…
On to the next stop! Great disappointment – but let’s not let it spoil the day.
Kim pulls into the parking lot of – well, let’s just say it was a “travel agency”. Walking into the lobby, she approaches the receptionist who asks what service she’ll be using. For the service that Kim wants, she needs to take a number, which the receptionist hands to her.
Kim enters the “travel agency”. It’s a large retail space with brochure racks and displays of travel gadgets for sale. Across the room filling the side wall is a counter where two representatives await to serve her. There is no one else at the agency. No one else is browsing, no one else is there at all.
Kim crosses the room and approaches the counter. As she nears, she notices that the two reps are looking everywhere but at her. They look across the room over her head, they look at each other, they look at their computer screens…but not at her. Kim slows as she approaches the counter, looking for a sign with instructions or a mark on the carpet to indicate where a line would form. Nothing.
Kim asks “how does this work?”
One representative finally looks at her and says “We take people in order by number” (remember now, no one else is at this agency but Kim). The rep then looks over her shoulder at the numbers hanging from the wall (62 was there) and calls out in a loud sing-song-y voice “Number 63!”
Well, what do you know? It’s Kim’s number. She steps to the counter for service, wondering why the lady hadn’t simply greeted her with a smile and said “May I help you?”
That task finished, Kim’s next stop is the computer store. She’s looking for a new gadget for her computer.
When she enters the store she sees what looks like all the sales folks gathered around one cash register laughing. As she passes by, she hears them talking about events from somebody’s date. They were howling with laughter.
Kim browses around for a few minutes. She can’t find the product she came for but she does see a few other items that she might purchase. But first, she must find what she came for. Back up to the front of the store she goes to ask for help.
The gang’s still there laughing.
Kim approaches the group surrounding the cash register and no-one even pauses to ask what she wants. She begins to feel like she must be invisible. Finally, one person looks at her and says “yes” (clearly, Kim was an intrusion).
Kim explains what she was looking for.
The employee tells her it’s in the ____ section. Kim looks back across the store and its rows of shelves, then asks the employee where that section is located. The employee, without moving from her spot, says it’s back there next to the ___ section.
Kim again looks across the sales floor and asks where that section is located. The employee, now exasperated, points across the room and says it’s four rows over there. Kim looks across the sales room and sees several sets of rows, some going horizontally across the room, others going vertically across the room. About 16-20 rows in all. It wasn’t clear which set of rows contained the one she needed.
Kim decided on the spot that she wasn’t going to spend her money in a store that couldn’t be bothered to tell her where the product was located – a product she had come to buy. As she left, she could hear the employees laughing. Not at her. They were still talking about that date.
Hungry, tired and frustrated, Kim decides to take a break from her list and have lunch. She drives into a well-known fast food franchise and orders, among other things, a vanilla milkshake.
Lunch was good. She sipped her shake and drew back with a frown. “This isn’t vanilla” she thought. She sipped again. It tasted like strawberry. She pulled the cap off the cup, it looked like vanilla, but it tasted strange. Odd. Different. What was it?
She had already left the parking lot and was driving to her next stop. It wasn’t worth turning around to ask for an exchange. But her curiosity was peaked. She pulled into a gas station and emptied the milkshake in the trash can. At the bottom of the cup was pink milkshake. Someone had pulled the wrong handle on the milkshake machine and instead of getting a fresh cup, had simply put a vanilla shake on top of their mistake.
Kim made a note not to stop there again.
Sigh. The list of places not to go to again was getting long.
Let’s stop Kim’s story here. By now I’m sure you get the picture. The world abounds with businesses that give poor service, whether real or perceived, intended or not.
There is plenty of opportunity for you to create a “Wow! Practice“, because (the sad truth is) so few business owners are doing it.
By the way, Kim did enjoy a nice dinner at a restaurant she went to about twice a month. She had a nodding acquaintance with the owner, who waved to her from across the room. When she went to pay the bill, the cashier greeted her by name, with a smile. But she refused to take her personal check as payment.
Seems they had a new policy. The cashier pointed to a small hand-written sign next to the register.
Sure enough – effective yesterday – they had stopped taking checks.