It All Starts With Words

Let me just start by stating my bias – I am a stickler about customer service.  I am not talking about “the customer is always right” service, although that is nice too, but I am talking about treating each person that comes into your place of business as if they are important to you; because they should be important to you. Your livelihood depends on each customer and what they say about their experience with you. What they say about you when they leave is often guided by how they felt about you when they were with you.

Whether we are consciously aware of it or not, every interaction we have with another person leaves us feeling some way. That feeling often guides the next choice we make regarding this person or business. How we feel about someone informs how we think about them, and how we think about them determines the actions we take.

The other day, I went to my bank to open a new account. I walked over to the member services desk and told the lady what I needed. She was nice enough and asked me to take a seat. About five feet away were two desks with a woman sitting at each one. The member services lady said to the woman at the first desk “I have someone here to open an account, do you want to help her?” I did not hear this woman reply, but what I did see was the member service lady walk to the next desk and ask the same question. I don’t know what was said, but what I instantly felt was that the woman at the first desk did not want to help me.  Now the reality may be that she was busy, or about to leave for lunch, or had a phone call to make, but I don’t know any of that, all I know is that she was given the option to help me and she chose not to. Despite having been a customer of this bank for over 20 years, I did not feel important to this financial institution at.all. I found myself questioning whether I wanted to open my account there or not. This reminded me that how we say something is as important as what we say. If the first lady had simply asked the woman at the first desk if she was available to help me, I may have felt something entirely different.

Now, I understand that therapy is different than opening a checking account, and so it demands a different level of relationship, but they both require relationship which I find missing in so many occurrences in everyday life.  I believe every business would be more successful and every person would feel more cared for if we could all look at every transaction we have with another as a component of our relationship with them.

As a therapist, I want you to know that you are more than an ID number in the electronic health record or a paycheck to me.  I want you to understand that your life, happiness, hopes, and success all really do matter to me. For me, this means, I never let too long go by without me contacting a client I haven’t heard from. It means that I reply to every email and return every phone call within 24 hours if at all possible and if it’s not possible, as soon as I can contact you I let you know what happened that kept me from you this time…never excuses, but a sincere apology and explanation. At the core of each of us, we want to know that we matter to others.

What can you do today to show someone in your business or personal life that they really do matter to you?

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