Is there a difference in how you feel when you walk into your doctor’s office versus the local coffee shop?

How do they greet you?

DO they greet you? Is it with a half-hearted mumble: “What can I get you?”

Or is there a warmth, a smile, a personal touch in the greeting?

In other words, do you have a “Norm!” moment or is it more like a “Next!” moment?

If you watched TV in the 80s, you probably remember “Cheers.”

“Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name…

…And they’re always glad you came…”

There was always at least one moment in each episode when Norm would walk into the bar and everyone would shout, “NORM!”

I can think of one “Norm” moment I had when I was buying my morning coffee. In my town, there are lots of coffee shops to choose from. But whenever I go into my local Starbucks – even if it’s been a few weeks since my last visit – the barista behind the counter always greets me and says, “Hey Jake – do you want your usual double latte?”

What?! This blows me away every time.

Why? Because I’m not expecting this level of service from a coffee shop. I expect it from people and places that provide a more personal service. Places like my doctor’s office. But unfortunately, I don’t always get that level of service and personalization.

Why is it that from the people and places we expect the most, we get the least?

When you get right down to it, Starbucks isn’t really that much better than any of the other coffee shops out there. So why do I continue to go? Because of that extra personal touch. It’s just like that Norm moment from Cheers.

Too often, the busy-ness of healthcare means that we sometimes skip over the details so we can get on with the exam. And while this may be a function of clinical excellence, we have to ask: how does it make the patients feel?

Now I’m not advocating we shout people’s names like they did at the bar, but consider how it makes you feel to have someone know your name (or nickname), remember it, and actually call you by that name.

For me, it shows that you’re willing to take the few seconds to connect with me on a personal level. It shows caring and sincerity. It influences how I feel about your business. And quite frankly, it has nothing to do with your ability to brew coffee or your medical expertise. It’s a warm welcome and it makes me glad I came.


What do you think? Are there places or businesses you visit where the service just blows you away? I’d love to hear your examples of exceptional customer service as well as times when you felt like you were just the next one on the assembly line. Comment below or tweet me @jakepoore.