The day will come when we are ready to be back in our offices and we will be met with the task to reschedule the canceled appointments due to COVID-19. What are you going to say as you make those calls? Should you lead with appreciation or an apology?

Say, “Thank you”.

Research

Just in March of 2020, the American Marketing Association put out an interesting article in their Journal of Marketing. The article talked through 7 different studies with a multitude of variations to see if it was better to say “Thank you” than “Sorry” after a service failure. They wanted to see if expressing appreciation was more effective for a recover strategy.

Explaining the Study

One study had 194 participants that were divided across three conditions. They first had each group imagine their plumbing was backed up and they had called for plumbing service. All were promised the plumber would arrive at 11am, but in reality the arrival time was at noon.

What happened upon arrival depended on one of the three conditions. They were:

  • Control group – plumber arrived and simply got straight to work
  • Apology group – plumber arrived and first said, “Sorry for keeping you waiting. I apologize!”
  • Appreciation group – plumber arrived and first said, “Thank you for your patience. I appreciate it!”

Post-Event Questions

Then afterwards the participants were asked questions in four areas. They were:

  • How satisfied they were with the way the plumber handled the late arrival
  • How likely they would be to use the plumber’s services again
  • How likely they would be to recommend the plumber to their friends
  • Did the way the plumber handled the delay make them feel they were valued

Results

After the results were tabulated the findings showed statistically significant differences. In all post-event questions and scenarios, the expression of appreciation were better.

Journal of Marketing, Mar2020, Vol. 84 Issue 2, p133-150

It is fascinating. What is happening is that we all like to feel appreciated and have our contributions highlighted. By expressing appreciation, we are meeting ego needs.

Application

So as you get ready to reschedule your backlog of patients, start with a “Thank you”. Then notice and listen astutely for the cues that you made your patients feel good as you bounce back from this no-fault “service failure” of having to cancel so may appointments.

For help in training and coaching your team members with communication skills, contact Communicate Excellence at info@communicateexcellence.com.