Putting The Customer Last (April 2014)

What do my doctor’s office and the local Chevrolet dealer have in common?  Recently, they both decided to put the customer last.  While my doctor’s office probably considers me a patient as opposed to a customer, people have choices when it comes to medical care just like they do with any other service. And poor service usually means customers choosing to spend their dollars elsewhere.  

On a recent afternoon, the Chevy dealer explained to me why my wife’s car (which was in their shop to correct a problem with a prior repair that they had made) would not be ready at the end of the day despite a 7:00 AM appointment. You see, they have a “policy” which states that they assign the same technician who did the original repair to correct any customer satisfaction issues.   While that sounds good in theory, in practice it just aggravated the situation as that technician was overbooked that day.  Rather than have someone else resolve the issue, they decided that their policy should superseded good customer service and the customer would just have to wait another day to get their car back. The fact that they didn’t call me to give me an update and that I had to call them near the very end of the day to check on the status of the car just made matters worse. 

On the same day, I drove to my doctor’s office as they couldn’t manage to return a phone call to schedule a routine test. They seem to have a plethora of procedures about who returns which calls, at what times, and also seem to have a policy that every call goes straight to voice mail.  I have never had them answer a call. As I walked into the waiting room, I could hear the person at the front desk ask a very sweet looking elderly woman to fill out a survey on the office phone system.  She (in a not so sweet voice) replied, “Your phone system is terrible – I can never get through.”   I followed up with, “I drove here because you don’t return calls.”  With that, I was ushered straight through to meet with the person responsible for scheduling. 

In both instances, those in charge don’t seem to appreciate the customers’ perspective and are abiding by rules, practices and procedures that ultimately put the customer last.  The result of this lack of customer perspective is that over time, the customer will decide to choose another provider.  

Too often companies let policies and procedures get in the way of good customer service.  When I start to work with a new client, I frequently deal with issues that don’t originate in the finance and accounting departments but have tremendous financial impact over time.  The above are just two examples of customer service issues which have financial impact by reducing top line revenue and bottom line profitability. 

As you think about your business, ask yourself, do you have policies and procedures which end up putting the customer last?  And if so, have you thought about the financial impact they might have?  Wouldn’t it be better to fix these issues and improve customer service and your bottom line at the same time?

If your business could benefit from fractional CFO services, I would welcome the chance to speak with you.  Please give me a call at (314) 863-6637 or send an email to   For more information, visit www.homza.com 

your cash is flowing.  know where.®    
Ken Homza   
Copyright @ 2014 Homza Consulting, Inc.

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