Customer Service | Manage Your Practice

Same Company. Two Different Experiences. One Big Failure.

I recently read that taken together, the value of all airline shares from the beginning of the industry to date would be a net loss.  Is anyone surprised?

On two recent connecting flights on the same airline, the customer experience was so wildly different that you’d think they were not only different companies, but on different planets.

The first plane was shabby, with a torn seat and service to match.

When the woman across the aisle asked for a ginger ale, the flight attendant retuned with a tray of drinks, and stopped in front of her.  “Is this ginger ale,” the passenger asked.  In response, the flight attendant scowled, “well, that’s what it looks like to me,” when a simple “yes,” would suffice and a simpler “yes, ma’am” would have thrilled.

The second plane is spotless and the service is excellent.  But what do I remember?  The bitchy employee on flight number one, and she wasn’t even talking to me; I just had to bear overhearing it.

You should have guessed by now that I’m not writing this for airline executives — I’m writing this for medical group leaders.  On a daily basis, your group’s physicians are likely delivering widely varying experiences to the group’s patients and perhaps to their families as well.  They are also likely interacting very differently with referring physicians and others.  Why?  What will the blowback be in connection with your next negotiation with a facility?  What referrals will you miss?

With many, many years devoted to medical school and then to post-M.D. training in the performance of the technical side of delivering patient care, you’d think that groups would be sensitized to the need for training in the interpersonal and communications skills that support it. The fact that this is not the case makes this the case for your group to implement it.

Hardly any of your colleagues at competing groups have any understanding of what I’m talking about.  Fewer still will do anything to implement it.  That’s why, for you, it will be like shooting ducks in a barrel.

What behaviors are expected by the group?  What phrases have you tested?   These are but a few of the questions that you need to start asking and then, when you have the answers, implementing.

In fact, ask yourself right now, is your group run as poorly as an airline?

Comment or contact me if you’d like to discuss this post.

Mark F. Weiss

Continue Reading...

Customer Service

Customer (Dis)Service

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.

Comment or contact me if you’d like to discuss this post.

Mark F. Weiss

Continue Reading...