Hotels, healthcare, and the DMV.
What do these experiences have in common? Customer service – good or bad. I’ve experienced all three in the past two weeks: good and bad.
It started with the Rhode Island DMV. Rhode Island is a small state of 1,200 square miles and a population of just over 1 million. There is one central DMV. Yes, there are several satellite offices, but something as simple as renewing your driver’s license can’t happen at a satellite. And in certain circumstances, online renewal is not an option. That was the case for my husband and me, who got our first Rhode Island drivers licenses a year ago. We had to renew in person before our respective birthdays. Not sure why — it’s like we were on probation as Rhode Island residents for a year. Who knows. But rules are rules.
So, we headed over to the central DMV location first thing on a Monday morning to do a simple transaction. We needed to be out in a short time for later commitments later that morning. Silly us.
We arrived just 20 minutes after they opened and found about 150 people ahead of us in the generic “check-in” line. What? Was it was busier than usual because it was Patriots Day in neighboring Massachusetts, so more Rhode Island people took the day off? Was it the beginning of spring break, so kids were out of school? Or just a typical Monday?
It took us 70 minutes just to get through the check-in line. Then we waited about 45 minutes for our number to be called. Once it was our turn, it was a 5-7 minute transaction for each of us. Our paperwork was reviewed and updated in their system; we gave them a check. A new photo was taken, and a temporary driver’s license was printed to use until a new one would be sent in the mail. I had it could be done online, but it took 3 hours, including the drive there and back.
Tuesday, I had a long overdue doctor appointment. I set myself up again with my former Boston-based PCP at Brigham and Women’s Health. I can’t say enough positive things about the actual visit, the ease of scheduling and registration in advance, the check-in once there, and the quality time the doctor spent with me. The proactive follow-up calls started the next day – from a specialist and two procedural areas who had received orders from the visit and were ready to get me scheduled with them. I feel like I’m back in a system that cares about me and that I can easily navigate.
Wednesday, it was on to a Marriott resort in Florida for a week-long vacation with our family, including the four grandkids. This is where customer service shines. Every single person, regardless of their job greets you, is willing to help you, and genuinely wants to make sure you are having a great vacation experience. And we did!
So, what are those basic customer service attributes we all look for and appreciate in these kinds of interactions?
- High touch – direct, real-time, in-person or phone connection with someone showing genuine interest in serving you vs. talking to a machine
- Proactive – someone checking in to see if you need something before you even ask, or helping you get something scheduled for the future
- Ease – simple, easy-to-follow, uncomplicated processes to get something done
- Convenient – nearby service if it is in person, or better yet, service available online
- Accessible – when you need it and when you are available, without having to take time off from work or wait months for an appointment
In healthcare organizations, the move toward digital health and the overall emphasis on service excellence are customer driven. In all parts of our lives, we have come to expect no less.