It’s a good thing I didn’t decide to be extra healthy last week and walk to my doctor’s appointment (a trek that would have taken an hour one way – but on a nice day, I’ve been known to do it.)
After driving out to the building, finding a spot in the $3 flat-rate parking lot, and taking the scary elevator to the fifth floor, as I’d being doing annually for the past 20+ years, I found a blank wall where there once was a door. No signage. No hint that my doctor’s office had ever been there. Just a moment straight out of “The Prisoner” – I half expected a giant bouncing ball to come down the corridor and chase me back to camp.
When I phoned the number, which hadn’t changed, the receptionist told me the office had moved six months ago to a spot much farther down the road.
“I didn’t get the move notice,” I told the receptionist, who promptly replied they hadn’t sent one. The only communications were posters they put up in the office just before the move, and an ad they put in the paper at the same time. Which would have been Christmas time. I’m sure it jumped right out from all that clutter. No doubt it was page dominant.
As a patient, I was confused, pissed, and hurt by all this. I trust the care of my health to these people, who can’t even be bothered letting me know they’re moving? It’s not like they don’t have my address. They also have my phone number. The least they could have done was double-check that I knew about the move when I called to make my appointment. I felt totally disrespected, and for a moment, considered switching doctors. I still might. Hell, my cat’s veterinarian made sure we knew when he moved!
As a communications person, I was absolutely stunned that they had missed an opportunity to engage their existing clientele and guide them through this change. Change can elicit feelings of fear, uncertainty, and even a counterpart reaction: “Hey, maybe it’s finally time I made a change, too.” They could have positioned the move as a benefit to clients. The new free parking would have topped my list.
Maybe my doctor’s office thought doing a postcard mailing would be too expensive in terms of paper, postage, and effort. But it cost them a portion of my loyalty.
Whether you’re a dress shop, hairdresser, or a doctor, don’t assume that just because people come back out of habit, loyalty, or convenience on a regular basis means you can take their business for granted. Customer retention should always be a top priority.
So what are you doing to keep your customers loyalty?