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I Want To SEE Clearly Now (Part 1)

I have a story to tell. One that has been burning a hole in my stomach for six months now. That’s right, six months. Count them with me February, March, April. May, June, and July. Oh but wait, this story hasn’t been burning a hole in my stomach, it’s been burning my eyes. I’ve been waiting six months for glasses I can see out of. (The glasses that I could see clearly out of have been at the bottom of Donnor Lake for almost a year now, but that is another story, and it has nothing marketing related ….)

Here are a few lessons for all the businesses that provide product or service to the customer. It is a rather long story so I am going to split it into two parts …

PART 1

The service you provide is an everyday ordinary service that hundreds, thousands, even millions of people use. Sure you’ve got competition, but people seek out your services for a reason. Someone trusted you enough to provide a Word Of Mouth referral. The new customer comes to you full of expectations, they’ve heard great things about you. Do you owe them anything in return? Sure you do. You want to live up to their expectations and provide them with the service they’re expecting. But you fail. You drop the ball. From 10 stories up. Crushing every bit of optimism they held for you.

LESSONS IN CUSTOMER SERVICE

And the Story Begins …
It all started on Feb 14th when I went to the optometrist. After the exam I was told it would be 7 business days before my glasses would be in. Having not heard from the office by day 13, I gave them a call. They told me I my prescription would take a full week to be ready, and when I told them that the next day would be two weeks they got flustered. They called their lab and found that my lenses were on back order.

LESSON 1:

If something is on back order – FOLLOW UP with the customer to let them know of the delay. Don’t make the customer call you.

Late the next week they did follow up with me, informing me there was breakage and it was going to be another week and a half before my glasses would be in. They followed LESSON 1, but they should have followed LESSON 2 –

LESSON 2:
When your customer is already unhappy with your service for a previous delay or mistake, offer the customer some compensation when their order is delayed again, or even longer than expected. Do something nice for them. A $5 gift card to the local coffee shop can go a long way to soothing ruffled feathers.

Five weeks after my initial appointment, I arrived eager to get my new glasses. Eager to see the world through clear unscratched lenses, but alas, it was not to be. I didn’t have the delightful experience of putting them on and having instant clear vision. Granted, my prescription is a challenging one (prism, progressive bifocals, one near sighted eye and one far) … but having worn glasses for the better part of the past 30 years, I know the glorious feeling I get when I put on brand new, unscratched and perfectly focused glasses. I didn’t have that experience this time. It was difficult for me to focus both my eyes together, especially reading close up. Everything was fine if I closed one eye to look distant, or closed the other eye to read. But when I opened both eyes, focusing them together was difficult.

Being assured that it is common for people to have to get used too a new prescription (something I’ve never had to do before) – I went home. After several days, and not getting used to them, I called the office and scheduled to see the optometrist again. After several measurements and tweaks to the frame, the Dr. assured me that he had done everything right and literally told me “this is as good as it’s going to get.” But I knew better. I had no trouble focusing my eyes together with an old scratched prescription – so something had to be wrong. At any rate, I went away again disgruntled.

LESSON 3:

Don’t imply that the customer is at fault for your product not living up to what it is supposed too. Apologize to the customer, let the customer feel that you’re interested in their best interests. Don’t send them out the door feeling like they did something wrong.

I called my insurance company and asked to have my benefit reinstated because I needed to see a different optometrist and get a prescription that I could see out of. Mind you, this is 6+ weeks after my initial appointment. The insurance company was really apologetic and made me feel better. It wasn’t my fault, and no, of course I should be able to see out of the glasses. Even with insurance I was $250 out of pocket on them.

LESSON 4:

(and the insurance company got this one right) Assure the customer the problem is going to be fixed and that you’ll take care of it.

The next day the original optometrist calls me, suggesting I return and he’d try again, this because the insurance office called him and told him he had to see me again and try to get it right. So I went back. This guy, nice as he could be, didn’t know how to make it right. He guessed, trying this, and that, and muttering how he didn’t understand how the prescription was wrong when he knew he’d measured correct.


LESSON 5:

If you don’t know what you’re doing, and aren’t confident you’re going to make your customer happy – TELL THEM. Let them take their business elsewhere. They’ll think more highly of you for admitting your weakness. Be nice, be polite, but suggest that they visit another business. You might even suggest a competitor whom you know to be an expert suited to the customers specific needs. Don’t try to fake it. You’ll only irritate the customer, and the customer will spread bad word of mouth about you.

Two weeks later I was back at his office, once again ever hopeful that I’d be able to see. Eager to see clearly, I put the new glasses on my face. They were worse than the first attempt. All the good intentions and guessing the Dr. did were for nothing. I couldn’t even see with one eye closed.

to be continued…..

Max Speed

If the Pole Position Marketing team had a muse—and it does—it would be Max Speed. We love Max’s occasionally off-color, usually amusing and always pointed “Maxisms.” (Maybe “Maxims” would be a better word.) Max gives voice to some of the things we think but, bound by professional decorum, aren’t permitted to say. At least, not out loud.

3 Responses to I Want To SEE Clearly Now (Part 1)

  1. Interesting read and sorry you had trouble, but this story is not unique in any way. One could take my previous statement in 2 ways. Either:

    1) few eye doctors know what they are doing

    or (much more likely)

    2) this is harder than it appears

    There is a reason why one must have a doctorate in order to Rx glasses in the U.S. Its not all that easy, especially in prism Rx’s. Many of your comments are common ones among people who have had difficulty with a new prescription. “I have worn glasses for 30 years and have never had to get used to them BEFORE”. No offense meant here, but… so what? That doesn’t mean anything. Age plays a factor…the older you get, the less depth of focus/depth of field a person has, and the harder it is to accept a change. Many things play factors. Just b/c you’ve never had trouble with any Rx in the past doesn’t mean you never will.

    As I read this story from the other side, IMO one of this was malpractice or or even “bad business”. Okay granted they could have called you when there was breakage. But backorders and breakage are standard events, and usually totally out of the doctor’s control. IMO that doesn’t warrant you or any other patient being “BURNED UP” for 6 months. You were just inconvenienced, not damaged in any way. The way I see it they made a genuine attempt at multiple fixes for you. Its not liek they just blew you off.

    And sometimes…its rare…but every eye doc has to o an occasion tell a patient “this is as good as it gets”. Sometimes it is. If you don;t like that answer, find somewhere else to go. I tell patients all the time…”a second opinion is never, ever a bad idea.” The problem with a second opinion is that usually the patient has to pay for it, which they don’t like doing.

    I don’t know. I feel a little bad for you and I don;t want anyone to have a hard time, but it happens. Even when nobody does anything wrong sometimes the patient is still not happy. I can see both sides of this…

    You need to try and see the other side. Labs make mistakes. Stuff breaks. Sometimes things are on backorder. Insurance companies are a pain to deal with and don;t pay very well. Patients think they have the right to instant service, etc etc etc. This is not that big of a deal.

  2. Diana Adams says:

    While I appreciate your insight and professional position on this issue, the point of my post was customer service. I’ve lived enough years to accept that “stuff happens.” Malpractice never even occurred to me.

    The customer service lessons I am pointing out are all basic lessons. As the service provider,

    1. Follow up with the customer when there is a problem – unforeseen or NOT
    2. When the customer is unhappy about one thing, and something else unforeseen goes wrong, do something, anything to make them feel better. In the post I suggested a gift card, even a hand written paper note would be nice
    3. Don’t tell the customer it is their fault when the product is not right
    4. Assure the customer the problem will be fixed
    5. Refer the customer elsewhere if you can’t provide the service

    That’s all.

    Stay tuned for Part 2 ….