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What makes great customer service in the world of Cell and Gene Therapies?

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Thomas Painter, the Business Support Coordinator in the Anthony Nolan Cell & Gene Therapies Service, looks at how great customer service can make all the difference, and how we’re applying these learnings to deliver the best service for our customers and their patients.

At Anthony Nolan, providing great customer service to our collaborators is vital to ensuring both patients and customers get the support they need, as quickly as possible. Our experience in this area means we have lots to say about what makes great customer service – too much for one blog post! But I’ll give it a go.

At the Anthony Nolan Cell & Gene Therapies Service, we are looking to apply all these learnings to help create the best possible experience for researchers, which in turn will help patients receive innovative treatments.

I wanted to highlight three things which I have observed recently that can make being a customer far less stressful. Those are: acknowledgment, a personal touch, and being pre-emptive.

Acknowledgement

Whilst not every company has hundreds of workers dedicated to deal with customers the instant we want to get in touch, it’s always reassuring to know that your message has been acknowledged.

Even something as small as an automated email often puts my own mind at rest knowing that my enquiry has reached the other side. I have also recently seen the growth of tracking tools, which is another fantastic form of acknowledgment. I don’t think I will ever tire of having the knowledge that my pizza is in the oven or has progressed to the moped for delivery. At Anthony Nolan, we are looking to employ similar strategies to help keep our customers acknowledged and informed about the service.

Personal touch

I recently experienced several issues with our home internet connection, where the connection would frequently drop out at irregular intervals. Naturally, I called the customer helpline, with the anticipation of a long-winded phone call, being put on hold, and then transferred to multiple people. That wasn’t the case. I was quickly transferred to the technical department, where I was met with a calm and knowledgeable technician.

This person walked me through a series of tests to monitor the connection, whilst clearly explaining what I had to do and what was the purpose of it. Despite this not resolving the issue there and then, the technician arranged for several engineers to come to my home and to our local exchange point to resolve the problem. At each step he would call me before and after to see how things were.

What was truly great about this experience was I felt like I had a personal technician throughout the entire process, I didn’t need to explain myself and the problem at each point of contact. Whilst not having a consistent internet connection was incredibly frustrating, going through their customer service was the complete opposite, in fact I learnt a good deal about internet connections because of it!

Pre-empting the issue

At a conference, I had the pleasure of meeting a clinician from a transplant centre who was sharing two experiences of cord units which were shipped but did not have the same cell count values as initially stated in the report. One cord bank said nothing until the clinician reported the discrepancy, which led to the transplant team frantically trying to source another appropriate unit for their patient.

Whilst the other bank, not only informed the clinician ahead of shipping the first unit, but also found a second backup unit with comparable qualities. They were also prepared to ship the second unit immediately once the clinician was happy it would be suitable for their patient. Naturally the clinician and transplant team think twice about requesting units from the first cord bank.

This story got me thinking of all the times a pre-emptive communication can really help customers set an expectation, instead of being left in the dark and frustrated. I recall several times where I had received an email about a late delivery, and whilst initially annoying, it was never as frustrating as waiting and expecting for a delivery and it never showing up. The Cell and Gene Therapy Service aims to keep our customer always in the loop about key milestones in the service, so they can better plan their research.

The power of knowledge

What I think each of these stories have in common is knowledge. Knowledge that you’ve been heard and recognised as a customer, the knowledge being shared in a personal connection, and knowledge before you even know it!

The Anthony Nolan Cell and Gene Therapies Service aims to be a responsive service that can provide a personal touch with all our customers, so they are more knowledgeable about the products and services they are receiving, to help benefit patients and treatments they need. To find out more about our service, visit anthonynolan.org/cellandgene

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