Our veterinarian is featured in the Outstanding! book in Chapter Twenty—“Be Flexible: Put People Before Policies”—as an example of not-so-great customer service. Unnamed, of course.
Unnamed because “Dr. D” is a nice guy and a terrific doctor for our pets. But the good doc needs to wear his other hat, though I fear he’s misplaced it.
SMALL BUSINESS OWNER.
Let me be transparent regarding my veterinarian philosophy:
My dog is not his customer—because “Nug the Pug” does not have a debit card, checkbook, or cash. But I do. So that makes me the customer.
So, I took Nug in for some minor issues last week. During the exam, Dr. D and I agreed on a course of treatment. One action that was considered but rejected was a urinalysis.
However, minutes later at the front desk where I paid the bill, the vet technician suggested I take a “urine collection” cup with me just in case I decided to capture a specimen from Nug and then bring it in to be tested. No fee was mentioned.
Once home, I noticed I’d been charged $35 for the “just in case” cup that I wasn’t planning on using!
I called back and left a voicemail asking for my refund.
I had to leave a voicemail on a weekday during business hours for the same reason the vet tech had been the one taking my payment at the front desk:
Dr. D. has been trying the “no receptionist” approach for two years.
Note to all vets: Customers should not enter your office to be greeted only by Animal Planet playing on a television!
Anyway, 30 hours later, I received a return call from Dr. D’s wife. Even though I’m certain my voicemail had been quite clear, she asked me to reexplain it all. So, I did.
Two things came next:
1. No apology.
2. She said, “Well, bring back the specimen cup and we’ll refund your money.”
Let me understand …
I need to return a plastic cup that cost you $.59 from your vet supply vendor so that I can get my money back that I should not have been charged in the first place!?!
I returned the cup and received my $35. As always, the technician had to come out of the lab to do receptionist work. No further comment on that.
But, here’s a comment:
The technician who processed my return of the plastic cup was the one who had incorrectly charged me the $35. Smiling all the while as if nobody had been inconvenienced, she never said these powerful words:
“I’m sorry for my mistake, and apologize you had to come back in because of my error.”
So I said, “Have an outstanding day!” and left.
But we’ll be back. Why? Because Dr. D is a levelheaded, practical, and caring animal doc that never recommends procedures that aren’t necessary.
I like that in a vet. It makes him outstanding—as a pet doc.
Now if he could just put on that “small business owner” hat, his entire practice would be outstanding. When that happens, this is how a mistake will be handled:
Someone will promptly answer the phone and, after listening to the paying customer describe the problem, that person will tell the paying customer …
“So sorry for the mistake. I will rectify it immediately. If you can, drop the cup off sometime, please. If that doesn’t work for you, don’t worry about it. Thanks for your business!”
Yes, to BE OUTSTANDING is just that easy.
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