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Don't forget who writes the check, by David S. Allen

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It was one of those packed mornings when I didn’t need to be spending time at a doctor’s office. But at least I had the first appointment of the day. I arrived early with the hope of being seen quickly, signed in and took a seat in the waiting room. A few minutes later, a pharmaceutical rep walked in the office and greeted the receptionist.  He, too, sat down.

Two people were now in the waiting room and both of us there for the same reason.  This was going to be interesting.  Who would the doctor see first?

I liked my chances. The rep had stuff to sell. He wanted to TAKE the doctor's money.  I had an appointment to see the doctor.  I would GIVE the doctor money.

Then it happened. The physician's nurse stepped into the waiting room and announced the winner of this little two-man contest. The physician would see…the sales rep.

It was a choice. Examine the patient? Or meet with a salesperson? After a couple of minutes of sitting in the lobby by myself, I also made a choice. I decided I did not have time to wait on a sales meeting to end, which I calmly explained to the surprised receptionist. And with that, the first patient of the day, a guy who had a checkbook in his coat pocket, left.

The physician had permanently lost a customer and to make matters even worse, I am 100 percent convinced no one at the office knew that or even cared. (I keep waiting for the office manager or someone there to phone me with an apology and invite me to come back, but it has been eight years and I am beginning to believe I won’t get that call.)

Here is a good exercise. Think about all of the encounters your organization has with its customers. In each of them, from sales to billing to shipping or whatever your processes may be, you are communicating something at every touchpoint. It could be: “You are IMPORTANT to us.” Or maybe it is: “We really don’t have time to deal with you right now.” 

Unless you are consistently demonstrating to those amazingly wonderful people called customers how much they mean to your company, you are forgetting who writes the check.      

Never forget who writes the check.