Customer focus must be ignored at all cost!

By September 16, 2010Value Propositions

“Full Service!”  “Total Solution!”  “We handle everything!”  “We are a customer focused company!”  Virtually always, statements like these are a load of hooey.

I’ll start with the moral of the story.  Don’t claim to be customer focused or full service unless you are absolutely certain you fully and completely understand all the details of the customer’s requirements and expectations and can fulfill each one.  Otherwise you’re setting yourself up to look like a hype-spewing, unreliable huckster.

The case in point involves a cancer patient and a caregiver.  The patient is about to be discharged from the hospital and will require some home care.  There’s some natural apprehension on the part of the caregiver regarding the associated procedures and equipment.  Not to worry!  “A care specialist from the home healthcare provider will be here shortly to address all those issues.”

In strides the poised, articulate care specialist.  The opening questions and statements are all absolutely appropriate, compassionate and to the point.  The caregiver (CG) breaths a sigh of relief.  The care specialist (CS) says, “We’ll take care of everything; we’re a full service provider.” Now begins the interesting (and sad) part.

CG:  “That’s really wonderful.  The first thing I’d like to handle is getting a hospital bed delivered to the house.”

CS:  “Oh, we don’t do that.”

CG:  “I see.  How about a bedside commode?”

CS:  “We don’t do that either.”

CG:  “How about a walker?”

CS:  “We don’t do that either.”

CG:  “OK, sounds like ‘everything’ doesn’t include equipment.  How will monitoring for the need of various medications be handled and how will the drugs be administered?”

CS:  “That’s not part of our role.”

Anyone else out there feel like punching CS in the nose?

CS, serving the role of sales rep, right out of the chute assures CG, the customer, that, “We’ll take care of everything,” and proceeds to fail on the first four, absurdly straightforward requests.  Let’s add a little more context to CG’s perception.  Here are the medical service providers involved in this case:

  • A Full Service hospital
  • A Full Service home healthcare company
  • A Full Service discharge planning service
  • A Full Service home healthcare equipment delivery company
  • A Full Service oncology practice
  • A Full Service chemotherapy clinic
  • A Full Service vascular medicine practice
  • A Full Service gynecology practice
  • A Full Service gastro-intestinal medical practice
  • A Full Service endocrinology medical practice
  • A Full Service palliative care medical practice

Count ’em up.  Eleven Full Service” organizations providing “Full Service” to a single patient.  The only way to characterize any of them as full-service-total-solution-we-handle-everything is to define the requirements in an entirely internally focused, product/service-centric manner. Customer focus must be ignored at all cost!

Think about it sales rep.  You really think you’re any different?  You think you don’t sometimes appear to be as clueless to your customer executives as the eleven organizations noted above?

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Thank you for your article. Unfortunately, this offer of full service without knowing what that means is made all too often.

    I do offer full service and have always done so, but it’s nice to know that it’s a perk I can now spotlight to help grow my business.

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