A doctor asked me to obtain a medical record from another doctor who had seen one of my children in 1997. A toddler then, my son is about to enter his senior year in high school. Leave the flowers and “blink of an eye” stuff to Father’s Day. 1997 was a long time ago.
First I had to find the doctor. I found him practicing with someone else in another town. He was on vacation when I called, but had private voice mail so I was able to detail the situation for him. His follow up and his recall were the stuff of service legend.
His first call buzzed my office phone at 9 a.m. on Monday the day he returned. I had started work, but had gone for coffee. We played phone tag and he called me a second time before 10:30. Vendors I pay lots of money to don’t follow up that fast. “I don’t have easy access to records that old,” he told me, and I immediately began thinking about how I could meet the new doctor’s requirement.
Then the original doctor astonished me. He told me where I had worked when he first saw my child. It was a new job, he remembered, and I groaned because I must have really gone on a lot for him to remember that. Then he told me about my two other children. He got their sexes and approximate ages correct. When he told me we had been house hunting, I almost accused him of having a chart there. Nope. He got a couple of facts close but wrong. But he clearly remembered his patient from 13 years ago. He placed my life in context then–something I hadn’t been able to do as well in the new situation. And then he offered to write a letter describing his original impressions and confirming that he had treated my son. That letter arrived less than 3 days after we spoke. He did all of this–the lightning fast phone calls, the letter writing–free. There is no hope for repeat business, little chance of a referral that far away and certainly little upside in making these return calls a priority on his first day back in the office.
Your takeaway as a small business leader is to consider what it would take to delight people so much they write a blog about you. Our world continues a frantic pace of interconnected information. What used to be called “user generated content” in the dark days of two years ago is now simply one of thousands of local review sites. If you delight people, not just customers but anyone interacting with your business, your business will grow faster than any other way imaginable. And you get to like what you do. Because only people who love what they do can pull this off and not burn out before next Thursday. This is more than word-of-mouth. It’s delight.