Customer Service as Horror Story | Give It the Boot

Ever wonder if really bad customer service is a conspiracy? Or is bad service just about poor leadership? I had to break my foot to find out.

On a very hot summer morning, I was trying to teach a strong-willed colt of mine to walk nicely when being led. Instead he’d take two steps and rear. I would dodge his feet and try again. 

Well, my luck ran out. Up he went and down he came, digging his hoof into the outside of my left foot. It really hurt. I was sure it was broken. Lesson over. I’ve got a new problem to deal with now. 

I am now in hopping mode. I hop to the house and call the doctor’s office to let them know I’m on my way with a probable broken bone. I hop to my car and drive, happy my accelerator foot was spared.

I get to the doctor’s office and can’t park near the building. No problem. I hop to the door, hop up the steps, and hop to the reception desk. The young lady there greets me, finds out who I am and says: 

“You’ll have to go to x-ray in the back of the building.” 

I say, “I’m not an Olympic hopper.” 

She ignores me and says, “Just drive around back.” 

So I hop back to my car, drive around back, and can’t park close to the building because that’s where the staff has parked. I hop up a slope to x-ray. 

The technician is fabulous—efficient, caring, and professional. The x-ray shows a break. She arranges for a wheel chair (finally) to get me back to the front of the building where I’ll be seen by the doctor. 

The technician stays with me. The doctor checks the x-ray and confirms the break. 

He says, “Do you want me to put it in a cast or would you prefer a boot?” 

Hey, he’s the doctor, right? The fact that he’s asking me what I want v. what is medically better was a serious sign. So I opt for the boot. 

The technician presents the boot to the doctor who says, “Do you know how to fit these things?” (It’s getting surreal now!) 

She’s says, “No, but John does.” 

I ask, “Who’s John?” 

She answers, “The maintenance man. His daughter is a nurse.” (You can’t make this stuff up!)

John does a fine job. I wear the boot for 8 weeks and I’m whole again. 

Would it surprise you to know I was furious about this escapade. Or maybe even incredulous?

The owner of the practice was not there that day. When I was on the mend, I made an appointment to talk with him. I recounted this story to his horror. 

He thanked me profusely, saying, “If I never get told about these situations, I’m never in a position to address them.” 

The quality of your service is a reflection of your leadership.

Poor service will ultimately erode the ability of any business to grow. Here are some points to keep front and center:

  1. Small business owners and solo practitioners must ask their customers, clients, and patients how well they are being served. 
  2. If your employees think you’re oblivious or don’t care about quality service, they won’t deliver it consistently or perhaps at all.  
  3. Every person who has a horror story is telling it, eroding your brand. 
  4. Social media can spread a bad service experience probably faster than you can fix it.
  5. Quality service needs to be the expressed passion of every business owner. 

Attracting a following is essential to becoming business fit. Poor customer service will unravel a following and set your business on its ear. So please make a point to gather satisfaction feedback and act on it. You’ll never regret it. 

Got a customer service “horror story” to share. What could have avoided it? Your insights might save the day for someone else.