how to ruin an experience in less than three secondsA visit to a local theatre recently reminded me that it only takes a few seconds to ruin a customer experience.

When the lights dimmed and the curtain rose my heart skipped a beat. I held my breath and waited for the actors to light up the stage, but instead the only light I saw came from the iPhone in the seat next to me. I couldn’t believe it. I can understand forgetting to mute or turn off your phone in the theatre – at first. But this man let his phone light linger. In fact, he kept it on during the entire performance, even after I repeatedly asked him to turn it off.

What was so important? A basketball game. Now, I realize it’s March Madness but then why choose to go to a darkened theatre if you’d rather be home watching the game? Why ruin the experience for the rest of us?

3 Ways To NOT Ruin A Customer Experience:

#1 Be Present

I love my cell phone and can safely say that I would surely be lost without it. I call, text, tweet, write, and blog on my phone. Not to mention the eleventy bajillion photos I’ve taken that are currently clogging my “gallery.” Cell phones are an incredible invention. But there are places and times that require our full attention and participation. In other words, there are times when we need to just put our phones AWAY and be present.

#2 Be Considerate

The theatre is one of those places where cell phones are a no-no. Forget the fact that it’s just plain rude. Theatres often face hefty fines if someone snaps a picture or records part of a performance. But honestly, how inconsiderate is it to the actors and crew who have put in God knows how many hours of rehearsals and work to put the show together? It ruined my experience and if the kids performing on stage could see the light from his phone (and I’m betting they could), I’m sure it ruined theirs too.

Another place where phones need to be put away? The doctor’s office. Patients are there for one reason and one reason only: to see the doctor. Right? So how would they feel if their doctor spent half the time looking at their phone? Or at the computer? Or the electronic medical record? Even if it’s something related to their work, the patient doesn’t know this! All the patient knows is that their focus and attention isn’t on them.

#3 Be Respectful Of Others’ Time

If you must look at something else besides the patient, at least tell them why so they don’t think you’re being rude. Otherwise you risk sending mixed messages and ultimately they’ll feel like they’re just a waste of your time.

I’m glad I went to the theatre this weekend, but I was so distracted by this person’s phone that my experience was ruined. The odds of sitting next to that person again are slim to none, so I’m highly likely to return to that theatre for another show. But think of the patient and doctor scenario. If the patient feels the doctor or nurse or other care team member is distracted – for whatever reason – what’s the likelihood of them returning?