May 8, 2019 | By

[Guest Post] Avoiding the Cliff of Dissatisfaction: The Power of Serving Your Customers on the Schedule They Prefer

Cleveland Clinic is one of the world’s name-brand healthcare institutions; it attracts patients who fly in from all over the world as well as being, for many midwesterners, the go-to provider for the region. However, even this widely admired–and benchmarked–institution is subject to the hazard I call “the cliff of dissatisfaction,” the moment when a customer falls out of love (or at least out of patience) with a company due to its slow service or unwillingness to adapt to the customer’s scheduling needs.

The amount of time you have before a customer relationship starts teetering on the edge of this cliff varies from industry to industry, location to location, and even from morning to afternoon, but the risk is inherent in most service interactions and business relationships.

In Cleveland Clinic’s case, it found that the traditional healthcare model of requiring patients to wait weeks or more to see a specialist was driving potential customers away–and right into the arms of the urgent care clinics (“docs in a box”) that have been springing up on every commercial street corner not occupied by a Starbucks. In response, it overhauled its approach to timing so completely that now, if you call before 4 PM on a weekday, you will be greeted as follows: “Thank you for calling Cleveland Clinic. Would you like to be seen today?” (Only after 4PM does the messaging roll over to the only slightly less astonishing, “Thank you for calling Cleveland Clinic. Would you like to be seen tomorrow?”)

Improving speed of service has been transformational for Cleveland Clinic. In fact, measures of patient satisfaction that would seem to be unrelated to speed of service have risen almost in lockstep with the deployment of the new initiative. This is not surprising. When you succeed in serving your customers on their preferred timetable, it goes a long way toward improving the overall customer experience.

Another company that has the concept of “cliff of dissatisfaction” down to a science? Starbucks. The Seattle-based company knows precisely how long an average customer will contentedly wait from walking into the store until receiving a finished, customized drink. Although Starbucks dresses its stores with merchandising and interesting décor to make these minutes pass by as pleasantly as possible, the company understands that, ultimately, too long is too long. So, when “too long” threatens, countermeasures are taken. Baristas will venture out from behind the counter and take orders (“Can I get something started for you?”) from customers who still have a long way to go to reach the counter. The company also deploys technological solutions to speed things along, including its wildly successful mobile app, which includes an option to pre-order.

There are multiple steps your organization can take to improve speed of service including dedicating time and resources to reducing telephone hold times or returning emails more quickly.  AI can also help. Chatbots can be deployed as a round the clock option which can go a long way toward ensuring that immediate service is available to every customer, every time. Another example is a dynamic, AI-powered search bar can also help customers avoid the dissatisfaction of not being able to find data quickly. And, when a customer is talking with a human agent, AI can provide support for those agents with up-to-the-minute, contextually relevant content that helps the agents avoid the dreaded, “I’ll have to call you back with that info.”

Even if you can’t provide faster service, there are creative ways to align your company with the timetables of your customers. Whether it’s extending your business hours, offering call-back functionality or simply adding additional communication channels — like SMS text or Facebook messenger — the key is to be respectful of the time your customer has to do business with you.  The easier you make it for your customers, the better your chances of keeping those customers happy and loyal.

Check out how LogMeIn is helping businesses avoid the “cliff” with Bold360.

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