Leadership: A First Meeting with a Customer is Basically a Job Interview

Customer satisfaction is paramount to growing a successful business, whether that business is health care or general business. I have over 20 years of successful senior leadership and entrepreneurial experiences in health care. In every instance, there was a direct correlation between customer satisfaction and the business operations. Treating each initial customer interaction as a job interview is one means of promoting customer satisfaction. The merits of this technique will be discussed in the narrative form below.

I was on my way to the emergency room to meet with the ambulance department. I had been encouraging their support for a project team between the lab and the emergency department and wished to see how they felt things were coming.

“Hey Jay,” I heard from my left.

I was so focused on my destination that I had blocked out my surroundings. I looked to see Elain, the director of nurses on the medical-surgical floor, and Marilyn, the director of the emergency department seated in Marilyn’s office.

“Oh,” I said. “I was lost in thought. How can I help you?”

Elain spoke first, “You know we both have young departments and we were wondering if you had any ideas on how we could help them appreciate the importance of customer satisfaction. Our scores are good, but we would like them to be great.”

I was happy to know that I was not the only person in the hospital that poured over such concerns. I smiled and stopped into the office.

“You look like you have been waiting a year for someone to say that,” said Marilyn.

“Two, actually,” I said.

They both laughed.

It was probably closer to three, but I didn’t want them to think I was strange. “Sometimes,” I said, “It is how you frame your discussion on the topic. Young people can have trouble with customer satisfaction conceptually.”

“So, what would you do?” Elain asked.

“I would tell them to think of customer satisfaction like a job interview. Young, inexperienced people usually understand that. They have been to careerbuilding websites and studied interview techniques.”

They both nodded.

“So, try to make a tie between a job interview and the first customer interaction. They are trying to get the job, and the customer is determining whether or not they should trust them. So rather than teach them ideas, teach them behaviors. Something they can do to improve their chances of wowing a customer,” I said.

This time Marilyn spoke, “Like what?”

“They same things that you would want to do, or not do on a job interview. For example,” I said. “Tell them to make eye contact. This is important on a job and also to a new customer.”

“Makes sense,” Elain said toward Marilyn.

“Make sure they smile. A warm smile will help create a good environment with a customer or a job interview.” I felt on a roll, so I continued, “I know that some of our younger employees are nervous, but don’t show it by being fidgety. “

They both nodded. I would have liked to think they were making mental notes.

“And stand up straight. No one wants to hire, or be treated by someone with bad posture.” My tone was rising with my excitement. “On an interview, or with a first time customer interaction, make sure you have a good handshake,” I said. “Not too weak, not too strong, but just right.

“This porridge is too cold,” said Marilyn in a sing-songy voice. Elain snickered.

I continued undeterred, “On an interview, or when meeting a customer, do not cross your arms across your chest. This sends the signal that you are not welcome.”

Elain’s nodded in a short range, eyes wide.

“Don’t play with your hair,” I said. “This sounds like it just means the lady who is spinning her hair, but no one wants to be treated by a guy who is constantly touching his hair.” I swallowed the saliva that was.

They looked like they wanted to say something, but I continued my rant, “And don’t touch your face or make crazy hand gestures.” I gave a double thumbs up, followed by okay signs for emphasis.

Both Marilyn and Elain straightened their spines. Marilyn spoke, “You were waiting two years to say that, weren’t you?”

“Yup,” I answered, I was. I slouched in my seat feigning exhaustion.

“So,” Elain said, “Teach the young people behaviors that they would use on a job interview to improve their customer satisfaction skills?” I nodded.

“Don’t touch your face or make too many hand gestures,” Marilyn said, displaying a thumbs up and the wink of an eye.

“Or play with your hair, or cross your chest,” said Elain.

“Have a good handshake and posture,” Marilyn volleyed.

“Don’t be all fidgety,” Elain said writhing in her seat.

“And for goodness sake,” answered Marilyn smile. She punctuated her sentence with a warm smile.

They smiled at one another and then me.

“Don’t forget eye contact,” I said.

“No, no,” we won’t they said in unison.

“If you teach them these things, I bet you will see an increase in your customer satisfaction scores,” I said standing.

“And if not at least they will be ready for their next job interview,” Elain laughed.

“If there are no further questions, I am off to the ambulance department,” I said.

“Have a good day,” they said, both saluting me.

You too,” I said, and I was gone.

Thanks for reading.

People also view

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *