Three business lessons I learned from having my blood drawn.

Like most (all?) people, I don’t really enjoy having blood drawn. Between the mandatory fasting (definitely a problem for me) and a few uncomfortable needle sticks in the past (the old “let’s try the left arm, no the right, okay back to the left” and my favorite “ugh…your vein just rolled over on me”), I don’t look forward to the annual experience. So with dread, I got in my car, fought traffic, dealt with some insurance issues, and then after waiting a few minutes for my turn…had the most delightful customer experience.

It started with the technician cheerily calling my name “Katherine Thorbahn!” and then greeting me with a big smile. He immediately starting talking to me and calling me Kat — which, I should point out, is not my name and was certainly the first time anyone has thought it was. But he was so energetic and happy, I just smiled and let it go. He quickly had me in my seat, put the strap on to constrict blood flow, and in no time had the needle in and the sample ready to go — all while making conversation and eye contact throughout. For a while, he even sang along to a little Jackson Browne from the radio, which got me singing along, too. When he took off the strap, he did this snazzy little move so that it swung in a circle and back into his lab pocket before helping me put on my jacket and sending me on my way. At one point, I was enjoying his company and the experience so much I told him this would probably be the highlight of my day. (He and I both laughed at the irony.)

The experience reminded me of three keys to ensuring your customer has a great experience:

  • Understand their mindset. My technician was no fool. He knows that no one looks forward to getting a needle in the arm. But he was so warm and conversational that it immediately put me at ease to the point where I almost enjoyed the entire procedure. I could hear the technician next door with her client — no talking, no relationship building, just business — and I could tell it was taking a lot longer to get everything finished as a result.
  • Surprise and delight them. I knew I was going to have a needle put in my arm and blood drawn. I didn’t know I would end up having a sing-along, a few laughs, and a really uplifting experience at the same time. That’s what I remember and not the prick of the needle.
  • Be really good at what you do. None of the above would have mattered had the technician been incompetent. He was just the opposite — assured, fast but careful, and thoughtful enough to ask how I was doing from the get-go. The bedrock of a positive customer experience is being really good at what you do and then building from there.

It was a great reminder that a positive customer experience can be found anywhere, as long as you have the interest and focus needed to make it so. Here’s hoping your next experience with a needle-wielding stranger is as good as mine, and that your customer’s next experience with you is just as good.