It used to be that word of mouth was just that. Words stated in direct conversation to others. Word of mouth has been lauded through all time as one of the most effective forms of advertising. In today’s cyber world; word of mouth is more accurately described as word of mouse. We are communicating with one another more frequently than ever before. We share insights, ideas, and opinions with the world in just a click of the mouse. And others are taking notice.
If you think those opinions don’t really matter, think again. In a recent article, (http://www.visioncritical.com/blog/unhappy-customer) I read some statistics that present the case for working harder at customer service. One of the statistics cited that 80% of consumers won’t buy from companies with poor online reviews. Frankly, I’m not surprised. I know from focus groups that my company has conducted that most patients are doing web searches on their doctors, medical practices, and hospitals. This practice has grown over the years and will continue to grow.
Walk into any waiting room in your organization and you will see over half of the people on their smart phones. Sure, some may be playing Candy Crush or solitaire, but many are talking to others through texts, emails, and Facebook posts. Imagine if their comments were floating above them in little word bubbles. What might they say? I feel I have pretty good insight into what they are saying based on our mystery shopper narratives. Because they gather patient comments about their thoughts and opinions; they shed light into what is being shared.
Here are a few insights patients have shared with our mystery shoppers that if posted online, might not bode well for your reputation:
“My appointment was for 30 minutes ago. Why haven’t I been called? This place is terrible about keeping appointments.”
“That receptionist just dropped the F-bomb.”
“I wish they’d at least let me know why I’m waiting and for how long. No one tells us anything.”
“I can hear two staff members arguing.”
“I’ve been waiting for 15 minutes already. There were 3 people here ahead of me and I just overheard one of the nurses say that the doctor hasn’t even shown up yet. They have no respect for our time.”
“I dare not ask at the desk about wait time. She is really snippy.”
What if all of those comments were being shared in emails, Facebook, and Twitter posts? How would it affect your reputation?
The other notable statistic is the one that indicates 81% of service issues were preventable. Just noting the list of comments above, I would have to agree. Virtually every one of the situations could be prevented by:
1. Being tuned into the customer at all times and watching for signals of dissatisfaction.
2. Keeping the customer informed.
3. Maintaining a professional decorum in front of all customers at all times.