The Cost of Free Customer Service

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Sep 5, 2007 12:30:01 PM

I had a follow up visit with one of my doctors today.  My 2:30 appointment became a 3:30 appointment – with me sitting in the crowded waiting room.  I know, nothing new here, happens all the time.  The only experience that might be worse than visiting the doctor is waiting for a delayed flight.

Why am I writing this post then?  Because, sitting in the waiting room, I realized that we convict these service providers without ever considering how we’re doing.  I realized that all I wanted was to be kept informed; I wanted to know that I wasn’t forgotten.  I wanted to know how much longer I’d be waiting.  Interestingly, I wanted to know the cause of the delay. This last one is interesting because I realize that it would have no actual impact on my experience (does knowing why there’s a delay shorten it – I think not).  I realized that the whole experience was emotional – I wanted to be valued.

In my disgust for the lack of respect doctors offices pay to their patients (wouldn’t it be better if they called us clients?), I realized that I’m guilty too.  While working on material for our clients, we don’t do as good a job as we should in keeping them updated, ensuring that they feel valued by us.  Additionally, my accountant doesn’t do a very good job. Neither of the attorneys I work with does a particularly good job of this.  My insurance company doesn’t, and the list can go on and on.

How much does it cost to keep your customers and clients informed? Nothing.  Then, I realized that this is part of the problem.  Rest assured, if I had made a six figure investment in this endeavor, I’d be damn sure that we excelled at it.  But because I didn’t pay anything, it’s easy to overlook – and to pay attention to those things that ‘cost’ me money.

Here’s the thing – it is a six figure investment, and more.  When the ‘free’ part of an experience is well executed, it’s the difference between a good experience and a great one; or a great experience and an indispensable experience – and that’s clearly worth more money than any investment I’ve ever made.

Topics: B2B Sales Strategy