Inside the Service Bubble

“They always seem cooperative to me,” said one physician.  “I cannot believe Ms. Jones cursed out the receptionist,” reported another, “She was so friendly when I did her examination.” The doctors gathered in the break room of the hospital were surprised to learn how many of their patients were unhappy with the service from the clinic.

Then, they learned about the service bubble—a place where customers stop being the normal customers and become frightened, obedient and dependent.  Smart doctors call it the “white coat syndrome”—the condition that causes blood pressure to be many points higher in the office than it was in the parking lot!  When the physician enters the service bubble with the patient, the patient’s anxiety can extinguish their fury about service…momentarily.  In the hands of a person with control over their health and well-being, they can table their wrath, unloading it later to someone else.

Do you have service bubble?  Are there places in your delivery of service where your customers act differently than normal?  Where their view of you is so altered by the apprehension that they muzzle their capacity to be candid?  No?

So, be a customer for a moment and examine your potential service bubbles.  How likely are you to be brutally honest with the head of an internal unit with lousy service assuming that person was several rungs above you in the pecking order?  Were you candid with all your teachers or professors in school?  How about that vendor who is the sole-source supplier of something crucial to your success?

You may be surprised to learn there are circumstances similar to the doctor-patient bubble where some customers can be timid, reserved, or cautious.  How can you eliminate service bubbles and promote customer candor all the time?


About Chip&John

Chip R. Bell and John R. Patterson are customer loyalty consultants and the authors of several best-selling books. Their newest book is "Wired and Dangerous: How Your Customers Have Changed and What to do About it."
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