Friday night last week was not a bad night – a bit cold and wet, but with a roaring fire and some lovely wine and cheese, the evening progressed very comfortably ( I can highly recommend the Tarago River “Shadows of Blue“). One of my best mates came around to watch his football team get flogged – it was such an enjoyable spectacle that we ended up watching soccer and the Tour de France.
Over the course of the evening, we discussed many things and one of the topics we covered was the “ideal” approach that Doctors should have with their patients. To provide some context, my mate is a specialist Surgeon and has built a wonderful reputation in his field. He also teaches trainee surgeons and is on the examination panel for the Royal Australian College of Surgeons. All this is very surprising considering he supports Carlton Football Club.
As our conversation opened up, he shared with me the three factors that make for better doctor/patient relationships. His view was that where these three factors are in place and in order, the patient is happier, the health outcomes are generally better and there are fewer claims for adverse outcomes against the specialist.
The factors and the order? They are:
- Affability; and
In precisely that order.
Expanding this approach through to other professions, it appears to me as though this might just be the most simple and easily understood “guide” for all of us.
Think about the customers whom you love dealing with. They will be the ones you make yourself readily available to. They are also the ones where you have a great personal relationship. And, generally, they won’t be overly focused on your technical ability as the relationship is the thing that resonates most with and for them. They respect your technical ability, but they value the relationship.
Over the weekend, I have reflected deeply on this approach and I believe it is something that we all should be aware of in our dealings with customers (in fact, everyone).
If you have a customer who is a pain and who you avoid contacting, nothing good is going to happen from the relationship. This situation is one where you need to consider the real value that you are bringing to the relationship and determine whether it really is one that you should maintain. Where you recognise that you don’t currently have the desire to be as available for a customer as you should be, is the relationship able to be recovered or should it be terminated? I know that over my career, I have had numerous situations of this type. They are really hard work and, even though you might get great results for them, there is very little satisfaction derived from the outcome.
Secondly, if you have a customer around whom you cannot be yourself and where you find your communication stifled and difficult, does this allow you to bring your “full game” to the relationship? If you aren’t being yourself (or worse, if they aren’t being themselves), can this be rectified or should it be discontinued? Again, there have been numerous occasions where I have had customers around whom I had to adapt my style and deliver with a very “serious” (so-called “professional”) demeanor. This is hard work – for them and me and my experience tells me that the absence of this factor in a relationship makes the whole process less satisfying for all concerned.
The ability thing I am leaving out here as, if the first two factors aren’t present, it doesn’t matter how good your ability is, the relationship will be difficult to nurture and develop.
This is only a short post to introduce the approach to this forum. I would love to get your feedback on this – it appears to be so simple, concise and to-the-point that you may wish to consider using it in your customer selection and retention process. I will be.
Now, where has that cheese gone?