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I decided a few months ago that I was going to quit going to the same medical provider clinic system that I have gone to for the past 13 years. This was a huge decision for me because I am a pretty loyal person and leaving my provider network makes me feel sad… sadness born from feeling that the “care” in patient care and customer care has been replaced by clinical apathy.
My primary care physician had left our clinic unexpectedly (at least it was unexpected for us). It was a huge shock and disappointment to find out that this doctor who has treated my family (a true “family doc”) left to go practice elsewhere and we had no clue where he went. This is the guy who always treated my ninety year old mother with great care and respect. The physician who will sit and listen with true interest and will actually go to great lengths to decide the right treatment for whatever maybe ailing her. He never ignored her complaints even though they are probably common to most of his elderly patients and little can be done to change the course. He was always dedicated to finding a way to make her healthy and have as much quality of life as possible.
This was a guy who I could go into an appointment, give him my symptoms and I knew he would work with me to find a resolution to my problems if at all possible. Our doctor treated us as if we were his most important patients… never rushing us and always taking care to check in about the other members of our family when one of us was in his office.
Then he left…
I tried several other doctors at our primary care clinic but unfortunately, it is hard to get to see a doctor. Most of our interactions ended up being with nurse practitioners and to be perfectly honest, those interactions did not leave us feeling confident in the capabilities and knowledge base of those health care providers. When a nurse practitioner told my mother, “I can’t help you… I don’t know what to do…”, it doesn’t raise the confidence meter very high.
When I went into the clinic on an emergent basis because my arm was causing me excruciating pain a few days after I had fallen on it, I was basically told by the nurse practitioner that there was nothing she could do. She told me that since I had already had it x-rayed a few days prior, she doubted that anything would show up on a scan and off she went out the door. No discussion on how to deal with it more effectively… no discussion on pain management techniques… nothing… she just walked out the door and left me sitting there with total disbelief that she just turned her back on me and left. Of interesting note here is the fact that I did have a fractured bone in my arm that we finally discovered after I had my chiropractor send me in for an x-ray three weeks after my fall.
My final straw on the proverbial camel’s back is when I went in to see an Orthopedist last week to have my knee checked out. I had fallen down some icy steps and landed on my knee a few weeks prior. My knee is quite sore (like someone shoving a red hot poker into the side of it when I kneel down kinda sore). I thought I had better have it looked at because it just doesn’t feel right. So once again, I am sitting with a health care provider who tells me that I have a bruised knee and can expect it to take months to heal and “there is nothing that I can do for you”. Seriously… there is nothing that can be done to help patients who are in pain anymore? Is it not plausible that the patient may actually know their bodies and know when something is wrong?
The fact is, I am not a quitter… in fact, as a registered nurse, I know that there are many great practitioners out there and I would generally be very forgiving of bad bedside manners but after several bad patient i.e. “customer” experiences with my health care providers… I have to say… I QUIT! I have become very frustrated and do not wish to spend my health care dollars on people and health care systems who just don’t seem to care about me… or what I am telling them.
As my readers know, I like to take experiences that are not so positive and learn from them and this time is no exception. As a leader in a fairly competitive industry (insurance), my experience with my health care provider has taught me some valuable lessons in customer service:
- Treat each customer as if they are the only one. When communicating with a client/customer, the focus should only be on them and what their needs are.
- Make it personal. I want someone to remember things specific to me. I want my service providers to ask about my family, my dogs and my hobbies because it shows that they are interested in me as a whole and that they care enough to remember the small details.
- Never let the customer walk away with unresolved issues. Sometimes we may not have the answers or be able to fix everything but it is important to let the customer know that we will research for answers and will follow-up to make sure they know they were heard and responded to.
- Remember that a customer can always walk away. They can quit being serviced by you if they are not happy. Lost customers = lost revenue… pure and simple.
The ending to my story is a positive one. I found out where our doctor has started his new practice and I have now moved my care back with the guy I trust! Morale of this story… humans (and most other creatures of the earth) are pretty loyal as long as they are taken well care of!
What other lessons can you share with us on how to treat customers with care?