Academy of Chiropractic Personal Injury & Primary Spine Care Program

Quickie Consult 104 I

From the Desk of Dr. Mark Studin
Academy of Chiropractic
Preamble: Many of the issues I bring to you are very small, yet each issue is just that, an issue. If you take care of the small issues, then you will be able to build and more importantly, focus on the bigger issues...a larger practice and more family time.

"Learn from the Best (not me) and the Worst…ME!”

I have spent the last few weeks researching both large and small corporations to explore why the best of the best are the best of the best and why those that aren’t end up failing. As I explained to you last week, I am immersed in a project that will enable you (and anyone else) to move up the search engines (SEO) and significantly increase your inbound marketing (increasing the number of people who see your social network posts).

In my research about building a brand, I came across an article from Entrepreneur magazine. The significant excerpt is about the Apple Corporation:


What other company has the public and the press waiting breathlessly for each new product release? The bottom line is whatever that new Apple product is, consumers trust that it will be smart and sleek and that it will improve the way they communicate, work or spend their leisure time. What's more, they'll enjoy the experience of making the purchase.

While Apple has always been about creativity and expression, the brand has kicked up the emotional quotient by creating retail stores that foster a sense of collaboration and transparency between customers and sales staff. "They hire empathetic people, and they don't measure their sales associates on sales," Stengel says. He calls Apple's approach to its stores "the best retail endeavor in history. They really want people to come in and be inspired, build confidence and really feel better about themselves from the experience they had in the store."

Apple uses its retail outlets to show, not tell, consumers its brand philosophy, from the large tables, open spaces and walls of windows to its well-trained associates (Apple's biggest brand advocates), who are armed with handheld checkout scanners that enable shoppers to make purchases without having to stand in line.

What I took from this article is related to my multiple experiences in Apple stores. The article states that Apple’s success in large part is from, “hiring empathetic people, and they don’t measure their sales associates on sales.” I have been in multiple Apple stores throughout the country and in each store I have personally witnessed sales and support staff patiently sitting with the customer and explaining how to accomplish what the customer needs. Often the customer has to ask the same question over and over until they understand the answer which again, often has to be explained over and over.

I was personally touched during my last Apple experience. There was a woman, approximately my age, sitting next to me with an Apple technician and asking very basic questions to which she apparently was not focusing on the answers. The technician patiently repeated the answers and then decided to communicate differently by having the woman follow his instructions by tapping on her I-pad one “tap at a time” over and over. This process had to be repeated 3 to 4 times before the woman looked at the technician and broke out in tears saying, “My husband just passed away and he used to know everything about the computers and I am lost in not only how to work my iPad, but apparently everything else in my life.” The technician, who couldn’t have been more than 25 years old, said to the woman, “Together, we are going to do this and by the time you leave, you will be able to control at least this portion of your life.” He went on to say, “There is no need to worry because if you forget you can come back tomorrow and the next day and the next day and we are always here for you.” I not only wanted to kiss this kid, I wanted to hire him!

That was an example of the best. Now here is an example of the worst…ME! How I am “wired” is I get frustrated when I hear the same question being asked over and over in the same conversation. It drives me crazy and I often interrupt people in midsentence to answer their question before they have even finished asking the entire question. In addition, many of you have a story to share with me and when you call, I am often in the middle of a project that I have “laser-locked in my focus” and don’t give you 100% of my attention, missing some of what you have just shared with me. What I have to keep reminding myself is that although I am “wired” one way, each person is “wired” in his/her own way. Therefore, everyone communicates in his/her own fashion. As a result, I must discipline myself and be a more “patient listener” because I am in the service business…and so are you.

We have all had that patient who walks into the office and you immediately realize he/she is going to ask the same question over and over and over and over and over and over. You also realize that you have five additional patients waiting after this one and you are now in a conundrum. Do you be patient and listen to the entire story over and over or do you cut the patient short to focus on those additional five patients?

If this was an issue about having to return a phone call, reading an article or handling administrative work, there would be no question, “Suck it up and listen.” However, the first question you need to ask yourself is, “Did I really listen to the question the first time?” If the answer is, “Yes, I listened,” then you have to realize that this patient is simply “wired” to communicate in this fashion and in the future, you should schedule this patient during a less busy time in your practice. This will allow you to meet this patient’s needs while not backing up your office for a non-urgent scenario. If the answer is, “No,” that is what mandated that the patient had to ask the same question repeatedly. As a note, should a patient a patient demand an unusually long amount of time, you should inform the patient that you will call him/her later and spend as much time as he/she needs as you have to get to the next patient. This tactic should not be used often and only for those very few who repeatedly demand too much time during patient hours.

The real issue, however, is that of listening and ensuring you are both answering the patient’s questions and meeting his/her needs on both a physical and emotional level. I am not suggesting you cross the line and become the patient’s mental health practitioner. However, your level of communication gives patients a “peace of mind” and will help them to feel better about both themselves and you as their doctor. 

I, on the other hand, know better and have to get “my head out of my ass” and start paying closer attention to every word you are sharing with me. The first thing I suggest you do when talking on the phone with me is to confront me and tell me to stop thinking about what I was just doing. Remember, you’re speaking to the least bashful person in the world and you need to meet that “tone” and don’t worry about being polite! It’s just me and I can take it.

We all need to take a bite out of Apple’s customer service playbook and be as empathetic and supportive as those 20 something-year-old Apple employees are and have fun with supporting the needs of your patients. Success comes with a set of rules and this is one rule we all must follow to achieve our goals.

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