Med One to One Fall/Winter TWENTY NINETEEN ISSUE 61

What is the Secret Sauce of Exceptional Customer Service?

Written By: IBBY SMITH STOFER

What is the Secret Sauce of Exceptional Customer Service?

When someone asks you what company or companies offer the best customer service, how would you respond? Don't take the time to check the web. Think about how you have experienced exceptional or outstanding customer service and from whom. The responses should be your choices, not what Google answers. Now take it a step further, why do they make your list? What are the things they did, or do that make you select them?

Customer service is a personal experience, and it happens to each of us many times over the course of interacting with a business or individual. You had an interaction that made you believe that the company you identified heard you, appreciated you, and was willing to go above and beyond your expectations. That is how companies stand out in customer service and satisfaction.

I find myself almost obsessed with what makes the employee or whole team feel that providing that exceptional customer care should be the norm. In my experience, Med One is one of those companies that believes this. Med One not only empowers its employees but truly embraces the concept of under-promising and over-delivering on every opportunity. These behaviors may be their secret that has created customer loyalty among healthcare providers and suppliers for nearly three decades. Is there more to it? My inquisitive mind wanted to know what is the secret sauce that makes Med One believe and act this way.

Secret Sauce

Jack in the Box (a Southern California fast-food chain) introduced the term “secret sauce” several decades ago during the height of its rivalry with McDonald’s. While a relatively small player when compared to larger chains like McDonald's, they developed a loyal following, who became addicted to the secret sauce served with every Jack in the Box hamburger. What is Med One's secret sauce that has kept customers coming back again and again? As I pondered this, it became clear that to provide exceptional customer service, it had to involve every employee at all levels. During my early research, I read an article on developing a customer service culture that reinforced this requirement. It read, "To truly have a customer-focused culture, a company must first focus on its employees."

Other articles on developing a customer service culture all reinforced that the leaders had to believe in, reinforce, and recognize going above and beyond to meet and exceed customer expectations. Therefore, I began my search for Med One's secret sauce with the two owners of Med One. What did the leaders do that created the desire in every employee to excel in customer service?

In the company publication (Med One to One), owner Larry Stevens spoke extensively on the importance of customer service to the sustainability and growth of the company. He shared his response to Southern California's staff, embracing and living each day based on the belief that "sick babies shouldn't have to wait." He said that he firmly believes that the culture of people being empowered to do whatever it takes to meet the customers' needs is critical to success. It is what has and continues to keep customers and manufacturers becoming loyal and repeat users of the services Med One offers.

Also, when the company receives customer feedback, Larry often publishes it in a company-wide email, all Med One employees know it as "Larry's Roundup." Here he shares the customer's words, recognizes the individuals or departments, and encourages others to create and share more customer feedback. Through small acts of recognition like this, the leaders of Med One promote excitement and desire in each employee to excel in customer service.

"Med One not only empowers its employees but truly embraces the concept of under-promising and over-delivering on every opportunity. These behaviors may be their secret that has created customer loyalty among healthcare providers and suppliers for nearly three decades."

Brent Allen, the co-owner of Med One, shared the following on why vendor relations are so crucial to the business: "If we become partners with a vendor, they become our sales team and our way into the hospitals throughout the country. We can do it much more efficiently. The secret is to become innovative so that the vendor doesn't want to use anyone but us. It is challenging, but we have found success with many vendors."

By treating each vendor opportunity with a serving of the secret sauce each time and with every interaction, Med One builds relationships that can carry on for many years.

No company can deliver exceptional customer service if it is merely a company motto and only seen as a departmental or senior leadership responsibility. Each customer interaction and every employee must embody the belief that meeting and exceeding the customer's needs is their job. When you don't have a product to sell, this mindset and behavior are even more critical. You are selling yourselves, your reputation, and your services. Those assets are what allow you to win without the sole consideration being price.

What about the rest of the employees? Do they share this commitment to excel in service? Do they demonstrate the belief that each call, visit, or correspondence is an opportunity to stand out in the eyes of the customer?

I asked several employees how they would describe Med One's approach to customer service. There is a definite theme and belief that what they do each day matters and impacts the lives of others. Patient care may seem a stretch when you think of a company that provides lease, rental, and sale of medical equipment, but not here. All respondents are proud of the culture and commitment to excel. Here are a few examples of their responses:

Med One's customer service is driven at least in part by the fact that we realize the impact on human life that all of our business deals have. Our quick response removes hurdles from end-users so they can more quickly deploy the technology we are leasing/renting/selling.

Customer service is the lifeblood of our company. It's what keeps our customers and vendors coming back to us. Every company preaches customer service, but few deliver. I consistently hear that when a customer is open to a new leasing relationship, it's often due to a lack of customer service from previous providers.

Our market can become very commoditized. Customer service stands out as a differentiator. It has to be part of our culture and who we are as a company. We may not always be able to win on price, but we should never lose to customer service.

Customer service means that I am available to answer questions and can direct them to others if I can't answer their questions. It means that I serve them first.

Service means that you treat every customer with the same level of respect and attention. You do not categorize by labeling them as Gold, Silver, or Bronze by how much money they spend with your organization.

I don't completely agree with the belief that the customer is always right. I think that the customer always deserves to be treated fairly and with respect. At Med One, I feel we do an outstanding job of trying to meet the needs of our customers and provide them with a positive experience.

We believe that we do one thing right at Med One. We do whatever it takes!

There is nothing more rewarding than knowing that we are in a business that "saves lives.”

Making a difference in healthcare is why we do what we do and how we do it!

Med One, please continue to invest in customer service and empowering employees, customers, and vendors to speak together and differentiate your company. The value of personal touch from caring employees and leaders alike have allowed you to stand out as an industry leader. Keep serving customers with your secret sauce, it has and hopefully will continue to set you apart.

Prev Article Next Article