Coach's 4 lessons on customer service

Posted on Tuesday, February 10th, 2015 at 11:20 am by Diamond Jim


Coach’s corner: What hospitals can teach us

By Pat Henneberry

February 10, 2015

Pat Henneberry was just named vice president of global learning and development at Hearts on Fire. She also is founder of The Jewelry Coach, a sales training community for jewelers. Reach her at 512-203-3414 or

My mother just had surgery Thursday and I am sitting here writing this as she lies a foot from me.

Let me first start off by saying I hate hospitals. I’ve recently heard a number of horror stories from people in hospitals, warning me not to leave anyone alone for a minute.

I am happy to report, however, that my experience has been just the opposite at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa.

Here are four short takeaways on what the staff here at Mercy did to make my experience a pleasant one. Let’s see if we can apply them to what we do in our stores.

Yes, you heard me, we are going to be comparing hospitals and jewelry stores, which are polar opposites.

1) “Primary Contact”
Before surgery the hospital representitive immediately got to know me and made me feel special by placing a badge on me that reads “Primary Contact.” This way, the hospital knows I have someone in here and that I am a primary contact for that person. It made me feel heard and known.

Question: What do you do to immediately make your customers feel special? Do you recognize them as someone important in your store? Do you think they feel heard and known?

2) Communication
They gave me a unique number that applied to my mother’s case. At any time I could look on a computer screen, see the number the assigned and get an update on my mother, e.g., she is still in surgery, she is in recovery … They also had a special agent who would come find me and give me updates. This agent knew who I was before I even told them (because of my “Primary Contact” badge.) Not to mention: the hospital also had a full coffee and hot cocoa bar. I felt “taken care of” and comfortable in a very stressful time.

Question: What do you do to make your customers feel “taken care of?” How can you change their experience from just walking into your store to actually “knowing” who they are and making sure everyone in the store knows who they are as they walk around? What opportunities do you have to change the way you take care of your customers? How can you make them feel more comfortable?

3) Teamwork
I honestly have never seen such teamwork in my life. It’s like watching a baseball team making no errors. Each nurse and nurse assistant had a small speaker clipped onto their shoulder. They are constantly using it to stay in touch with one another.

They ask for help, second opinions and guidance. One is a specialist in one area so they click on their radio and ask that nurse for help. In two days no one has ever said, “No, I can’t help.”

Question: Do you use your entire store as a team supporting each other? Can they play a perfect game with no errors? We have watch specialist, diamond and color stone specialist but do we use our unique abilities as best we can to help our customers? Is your store ready to jump at any given moment to help each other? The key is that they not only want to service the customer but they need to be willing to help each other.

4) Continued assistance
To say that the nurses have been on top of things is an understatement. Just about every 30 minutes they are checking my mom, checking on me and then double-checking. I realize we are in a hospital and a customer in a jewelry store is different but I can’t help but think how there are some powerful messages here from which we could learn, or question if there are opportunities to change.

Question: Do you check and double-check on your customers who are waiting for a repair or “just looking,” or do you leave them alone? What unique balance could you implement where they don’t feel suffocated but they feel special?

The lesson
Everyone wants to feel special, no matter the situation.

Opportunity: When was the last time you mapped out your customers’ experience?

A customer experience map a graphical representation of the service journey of a customer. It shows their perspective from the beginning, middle and end as they engage a service to achieve their goal, showing the range of tangible and quantitative interactions, triggers and touch points, as well as the intangible and qualitative motivations, frustrations and meanings.

This is a great exercise that you and your entire staff can walk through together. I recommend you start at a high level. As you work though the customers’ experience you can start breaking it down to micro-events.