Customer Service Lesson in My Hospital Room

Hospital_roomThanks to everyone for your thoughts, comments and prayers over this past week! A special thanks to Mike for his guest post. I’m back home and still recovering from a rather nasty intestinal infection, but thankful that all tests came back normal. I’m not quite back to 100 percent, but I’m home and resting comfortably (and I have internet access again!!)

So, here’s my customer service experience thanks to our wonderful healthcare system:

I had begun making a turn for the better on Monday and one doctor argued that I could go home, but another doctor said that he’d prefer that I stay until he could do this one last test. When would that be? Tuesday afternoon at 4:00 was the first opening on his schedule. I was downright depressed, but I consented and spent another miserable day in the hospital. My wife took another day off of work to stay with me. As the time for my test drew near, we packed up my things and the nurses had my discharge ready to go.

No one came for me at 4:00. No one came for me at 4:30. At 4:45 I called the nurses station and asked them what the hold up was. A few minutes later I was told that they were waiting for the doctor to show up. Then 5:00 passed and 5:30 came and went. Nurses, seeing my growing frustration came in to apologize. They assured me I wasn’t the only one who was upset. There was a whole medical crew anxiously waiting as well, because they couldn’t go home until my test was completed. Oh yeah, that made me feel better. At 6:15 the doctor showed up. I was livid. To his credit, the doctor personally apologized and explained that he had to spend some time with a patient who just found out she had cancer. While I finally understood, it was 6:30 before my test started and I’d spent the past two and a half-hours stressed out, angry and frustrated (which couldn’t be good for my health!).

One of the things that will always increase customer anger and frustration is lack of communication. Much of my anger came from not knowing why there was a delay. Was the doctor on the back nine? How long was the delay going to be? Did anyone care that I was sitting there waiting? The lack of communication made me feel that the doctor was just another arrogant jerk playing god – unconcerned with me, my schedule, my feelings, or my circumstance. How simple would it have been to have his nurse contact me as soon as he knew there would be a delay to explain that there was an emergency with another patient, apologize and promise to keep me apprised of the situation?

Resolution and follow-through are so critical to customer (or patient) satisfaction. If you promise to call the customer back with an answer then call whether you have an answer or not. Keep them in the loop. Tell them what you know and what you don’t know. The fact that you are taking responsibility for communicating sends the message that you are taking ownership to do everything possible and will go a long way to heading off customer anger and ire.

Related Post: Customers Have You on the Clock!; When You Have to Call Them Back

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Flickr photo courtesy of Cobalt123

  4 comments for “Customer Service Lesson in My Hospital Room

  1. June 7, 2006 at 3:36 pm

    Tom – Sorry to hear about your experience (the whole, not just the part). Glad you’re okay! For that, I’m thankful.

  2. June 7, 2006 at 4:47 pm

    Tom, glad you are back home. Thankful too!

  3. June 7, 2006 at 4:57 pm

    Thanks guys! Your prayers are much appreciated!

  4. June 7, 2006 at 5:46 pm

    Welcome back Tom! Leave it to you to turn your hospital experience into a customer service lesson – that must mean you are well on your way back to full strength(fantastic news). All the best.

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