Customer Service

Customer (Dis)Service

June 3, 2009

Customers — my clients generally refer to them as patients, but that doesn’t make any difference — expect service.  You might provide them with the world’s best medical care, but if you piss them off they probably won’t be back, and they will probably let others know about it.  If you piss them off before they even become customers, it’s even worse.

So let me tell you a story.

Recently, I made a call in the course of looking for a new physician.  I was transferred from person to person three times within the multi-physician office before reaching the person who schedules appointments.  Each time I had to listen to the same recording about hanging up and dialing 911 if it were a medical emergency.

When I finally reached the scheduler, I gave her my name and told her that I had received Dr. X’s name from my insurance carrier’s online provider lookup, which indicated that he is taking new patients, and asked to make an appointment.

Her response: “Date of birth.”  I said, “Excuse me?”  She deadpanned, “Date of birth.”

My initial inclination was to say goodbye, but I was intrigued at how much worse it could get, so I gave her the information.  I suppose she was just trying to screen out Medicare patients contrary to all the warm and wonderful things it says about their group on their website.

She then informed me that Dr. X wasn’t taking any new patients regardless of the fact that my carrier reports he is.  She told me my only choice was to see Dr. X’s new associate, Dr. Y.  Wrong.  I had another choice –I hung up.

As I’ve written in other posts, this is the time for aggressive medical groups to grab the market.  I don’t care how wonderful your claims of expertise are or even how wonderful your claims of  providing caring service are, if you can’t properly treat your customers, whether present or potential patients, someone else will.  This is the case whether you’re a solo office practice physician or the leader of a 100 member hospital-based group.

Think of it this way:  If you have to benchmark (although I hate the entire notion of benchmarking) don’t benchmark to any other medical group.  Benchmark to the Four Seasons or Nordstrom.  If you don’t get it, someone else will.

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