retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

If MNB had a patron saint, it likely would likely be the wisdom offered by one-time New York Yankee great Yogi Berra, who once offered the following bit of timeless wisdom: "You can observe a lot by just watching."

All of your faithful MNB correspondents believe the world is filled with non-stop lessons for businesses to consider and possibly copy. Sometimes even when you get a vaccination.

Like many people of my age cohort, I have been directed to get a vaccine to ward off shingles. Based on discussions I’ve had with people who have suffered from shingles, this isn’t a controversial move. It’s an illness worth avoiding at all costs.

The problem is the shingles vaccine used until a few years back has been replaced by a superior version and sadly, finding that vaccine can take a good amount of time and effort. For example, my doctor was unable to give me the shot because the office had no supplies and I ran into a similar problem at the clinics inside all the chain drug stores and supermarkets where I live.

Then through pure serendipity I stumbled on the local Patient First clinic, and was delighted to discover the vaccine was in good supply. So I bared my arm and got shot number one. Then last week, I returned and got the second shot.

But that’s not the point of this story. Rather it is all about the entire experience at the Patient First in Rockville, MD. Long story short, it’s wonderful. The facility is clean, the staffers incredibly pleasant, caring and they actually explain things to fools like me.

And it goes further.

While awaiting shot number 2, I noticed a framed poster on the examination room wall explaining the customer service attitude of Patient First. The poster tells you if you have chills they’ll bring you a warm blanket or a cup of coffee or tea. If you have kids with you they’ll supply coloring books and crayons.

Most importantly, these days, each exam room has a charging station for our smart phones with (I checked) cords for Apple or Samsung devices. Not surprisingly I couldn’t pass that up. (Of course, there was Wi-Fi in the waiting room.)

Now clearly, no one is going to Patient First to get a quick charge or coloring book, but it struck me as a wonderful way to make an unpleasant occasion a little less so. Someone at Patient First has clearly done some insightful research into those things that really bother visitors and offered up simple and small solutions.

The presence of a charging station won’t get me to make additional trips to the clinic, but the entire customer-centric approach of Patient First will get me to return when I need the place and, obviously, I’m going to recommend it.

The same attitude should be the focus of any customer facing business because those same patients will come to your stores and restaurants and will wonder why you don’t do the same. As Kevin wrote last week, “Good enough isn’t ever good enough.”

Or heed the advice of sage baseball announcer Vin Scully who (as an astute MNB reader pointed out yesterday) said, “Good is not good when better is expected.”

Because what was previously good enough isn’t even close these days; everyone must do better.

Start by considering Yogi Berra. Look around, and consider the exceptional and disappointing experiences in your life, and then get busy emulating the former and purging the latter from your business.

It will take effort. But the reality is that there is no vaccination to prevent or cure mediocrity.

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.

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