Monthly Archives: March 2016

Eye Wanna Scream

I had an appointment with the eye doctor this morning.  It was a familiar experience, one that I wrote about 2.5 years ago in a post called Eye Yi Yi. Not a thing has changed – not the timing, not the staff ignoring patients and chatting over coffee, nothing.  I reread what I wrote then and it still applies.  I wish the doctor himself wasn’t one of the best eye docs in the state.  While the exam went longer this time, the principles haven’t. Great docs obviously don’t make great business experiences.  We can learn from this, however, no matter what our business might be!

Nothing like a bad customer experience with a medical professional to begin one’s day on a happy note!  OK, so I don’t wear sarcasm well, but it’s either snark or anger (it’s a fine line!) so I’m going with the former.  Let’s get your take.

English: A human eye after the pupil was dilat...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I generally schedule my medical appointments early.  In fact, I try to be the first appointment of the day if possible.  In theory (and today proves it’s JUST a theory), I should be able to get in and out quickly so the entire day isn’t disrupted.  As it turned out this morning, not so much.  However, it is a nice lesson on how not to treat your customers.

The doc opens up at 8 which is the time of my appointment.  I present myself on time, walk to the reception desk, and am greeted with…nothing.  Oh, the receptionist is there, but she’s arranging papers, printing out forms (and not the day’s calendar of appointments – that’s sitting in front of her), and generally doing her best to ignore me.  After a minute or so, there’s a mumbled “I’ll be right with you”.  Three minutes later (I only know because it was 5 after 8 when she spoke to me) I get a “yes?”  OK, so I get it’s a little weird that I’m noticing how long I’m waiting, but remember the premise:  first in, no waiting, out quickly.

I tell her “I’m Keith.”  “Last name?”  My immediate response:  “the schedule is right in front of you. How many people named Keith are scheduled to be here at 8?” stayed inside my brain while I told her.  “Have a seat.”  8:06

I know who is going to examine me and she’s right there in the office.  Chatting and drinking coffee.  For the next 10 minutes.  8:16 is when I was called into the exam room.  I don’t generally bill by the quarter-hour, but if I did, these folks would now owe me more than I’ll owe them for the appointment.  It was a 5-minute eye exam, and when I asked about some results she informed me she didn’t have my chart because the doctor had it at his house.  Oh.  But he’d be right in. OK.

5 minutes later, in walks the doctor, chartless.  Looks at the results of the exam, takes a quick look at my eyes, and says he’ll call me but if he doesn’t I should call him to discuss the results.  Visit over.

Here are my takeaways that I think apply to any business:

  • An appointment is something that’s binding on both you and your customer.  You expect them to be there on time, you need to be as well.  I totally get that people might be delayed due to traffic or other issues.  Which leads to the second point.
  • When you break the above agreement, a little apology is called for.  I got none.
  • The person greeting customers (and patients are customers!) needs to be personable and customer-focused.  Grumpy, even first thing in the morning, is never acceptable.
  • When you are not prepared, don’t put the onus on your customer to fix your mistake.  Not having the chart is your problem – don’t make it mine by asking me to call you.
  • Finally, no customer should ever leave your business angry.  Not ever.

Maybe I’m overreacting, but compare it to yesterday’s experience.  I walked in at the required time and within 5 minutes I was out of the waiting room (in the middle of the day in a busy office) and into an exam.  Well-run businesses are easy to spot!

That’s my take – what’s yours?

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Filed under Helpful Hints, Huh?


I read a lot of articles every day.  OK, the truth be told, I skim a lot of articles every day (usually over 1,000).  I read far fewer.  A few things struck  me as I rolled through my RSS reader this morning (I use Feedly).  The first is the repetitive nature of reporting.  Once something is said on one site it seems to show up within a few minutes on another.  The repetition isn’t limited to cross-site activity either.  Many sites will publish the same material again an hour after they first do so.  I’m not sure if they’re A/B testing headlines or what but to me, it’s just clutter and noise.

Another thing that struck me is the sensationalist nature of many of the headlines.  I totally understand the need to stand out in the cluttered media worlds through which my feed orbits, but there is a huge problem with it: distraction.  The headline might be screaming “fire” but as you dig into the article you inevitably find that it discusses the possibly of a fire if several unlikely scenarios occur.  The real issue for many of us is less about the time we waste reading the article than it is the repercussions that ensue from people who don’t.

Think about how often a higher up in your company or a client reads the headline (or worse yet, hears about it from someone else) and pings you for information.  Maybe it’s a chain of emails (each of which takes time to craft) or maybe it’s a phone call or two.  It’s a fire drill that takes time away from the things on which we should be focused.  They’re neither urgent nor important. They’re a distraction.

I don’t love the screaming headlines.  They lead to fire drills which lead to distracted, nervous businesspeople.  It’s a truism that we can’t chase everything nor solve every perceived or potential problem.  I try to scrape off the hype, find the facts, measure them against my current goals, strategies, and tactics.  At that point, I can either toss it (which is usually what happens) or update my thinking.  I don’t get distracted.  You?

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Filed under Consulting, Thinking Aloud

Home Base

I had a potential client ask me if having a website was still a big deal or if it was a good strategy to use the plethora of platforms to engage with consumers. I have a strong feeling about that, and it’s that digital homelessness is a really bad idea. Let me explain why.

I’ll deal with facts before I get into my opinion (as I’ve encouraged you folks to do many times here on the screed). Let me quote from a Digiday article of last November:

Referral traffic (desktop + mobile) to the top 30 Facebook publishers…plunged 32 percent from January to October, according to SimpleReach, a distribution analytics company. The more reliant the publisher on Facebook, the bigger the hit: Among the top 10, the drop was a steeper 42.7 percent.

Those results line up with those from social traffic tracker SimilarWeb. It found that The Huffington Post’s Facebook traffic fell 60.1 percent, Fox News’ dropped 48.2 percent, and BuzzFeed’s Facebook visits fell 40.8 percent. Across all 50, the biggest drop in traffic in the period took place from January to February, when publishers’ Facebook traffic fell an average of 75 percent. There was a smaller but also significant drop from March to April.

Maybe it was an algorithm shift, maybe it was that the publishers weren’t offering content that was click-worthy.  That proves my point – you can’t know.  If it was the former, you’re at the mercy of a gatekeeper.  I’m not singling out Facebook – Instagram just went to an algorithmically determined feed, as has Twitter.  The point is that without a home base you are at their mercy.  Why?  Because you can’t market for yourself.  “Like Us On Facebook” does a world of good for Facebook and little for you, in my opinion, because while a consumer might like you, they might never see you.

Yes, you can buy ads on any of the aforementioned platforms to drive traffic.  Is that any different from buying search ads?  I think it is.  Search is targeted differently and can be better integrate with site analytics than can any outside platforms.  Putting that aside, with so much in our business lives out of our control, why would we give up anything that can be completely ours?  Having a well-designed and maintained website – a home base on the web – is one of those things.  That’s how I see it.  You?

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Filed under Consulting, digital media, Thinking Aloud