Anyone who has ever sat waiting in a busy office knows that it can be a tedious occasion that gets on your nerves. What makes it worse is when the people on the other side of that equation, the office workers, seem to show little concern for what’s going on with the people waiting. This is a common problem wherever people have to wait for an appointment of some kind. The wait becomes practically interminable if the setting is inhospitable. And the bad impression it leaves can make it so you never want to go back.
That’s why the workers in the offices of service providers have to be always on the ball when it comes to their customer service efforts, lest the office in which they work gets less crowded for all the wrong reasons. People who have to wait for a decent period of time can get extremely testy, which means that the patience of the workers can be tested in turn. But the extra effort that the employees demonstrate can make the difference between a satisfied customer and a frustrated one.
At Edelstein Cosmetics, a busy medical center in Toronto specializing in cosmetic surgery and treatments, that kind of extra effort is par for the course. But, according to CEO and founder, Dr. Jerome Edelstein, it takes more than that to give patients in a sensitive situation the kind of tender loving care that eases their nerves and makes them feel comfortable. “What our staff concentrates on is a kind of proactive approach to dealing with our patients,” Dr. Edelstein says. “If you let it get to the point where the patients are coming to you because of their frustrations, you’re already at a loss. You have to search out the problems and issues patients are having instead of waiting for them to be presented to you, and that includes when you’re talking to them on the phone or by e-mail, when they’re in the waiting room, or when they’re at a treatment or consultation.”
So, what are some of the ways that this proactive approach might manifest itself? The following ideas, followed by the Edelstein Cosmetics staff, might give you notions for your own busy office.
Seek Out the Problems
The idea of having an extra staff member, if it can be afforded, to interact with customers or patients, whether it’s in the waiting room or by e-mail or phone, can head off a lot of problems at the pass. These staff members should be vigilant about watching the body language of patients. When they sense some discomfort or frustration about the waiting time, they should immediately step forward to reassure the person in question that their comfort is extremely important and that the office will do everything they can to accommodate them. That will make those waiting feel respected and heard, which all they want out of the experience is generally.
If you’ve ever been in a waiting room, you might have experienced a situation where one staff member gives you one story when you speak to them and a second tells you something completely different. You know that such a situation can be infuriating. That’s why it’s crucial that staff members are on the same page at all time. A quick huddle in the morning before customers or patients arrive can assure that the messaging given to people is similar no matter what member of the staff is giving it. It will also present customers from becoming frustrated by the contradictions.
Stay below the Anger
What makes testy situations worse is when a staff member engages in an argument with a frustrated customer. That will only raise the tension in the entire office. Edelstein Cosmetics encourages the staff in the office to think about a line in the air that represents the frustration level of the customers. They should then always strive to remain well below that line instead of rising to that level. This helps quell any tension that might rise among the customers, and, eventually, bring down their level of ire as well.
Training your staff to deal with customers in a state of agitation is crucial for the well-being of any service business. In that way, you’ll ensure that your waiting room stays happy and busy.