“I’ve already TOLD YOU THAT!”

The answer is in the chart that nobody reads. This past weekend my wife had a little health issue. She is and will be fine, but her problems led to me taking her to the Emergency Rooom and then she was admitted to our local hospital for overnight observation.

  • Upon entering the ER, we were taken to a room with a triage nurse who asked all about my wife's symptoms, condition, history and meds. She wrote everything down on a clipboard.
  • She was wheeled to an ER room where she was transferred to the care of an ER nurse, who asked her the same questions that the triage nurse had asked.
  • An ER doctor came in a while later and asked my wife the same questions the previous two nurses had asked. He ordered tests.
  • The tests results came back and the ER doctor transferred my wife to the care of her family doctor's partner, who was on call. He came into the room and proceeded to ask my wife the same questions, once again, writing them down on a bunch of forms.
  • It was decided that my wife should be admitted for observation and she was eventually transferred to a room. A nurse-tech came in the room and asked my wife the same questions she'd been asked by the triage nurse, that were asked by the ER nurse, which were asked by the ER doctor and then asked by attending physician (It feels like a sick Dr. Seuss book).
  • A few minutes later her assigned nurse arrived and, guess what? Yep, the same battery of questions.
  • The questions got repeated with the nursing shift change.
  • Then got repeated again by the two nursing students who came in to take her vitals.
  • They were repeated again by her family doctor who finally arrived to check on her the following morning.

My wife and I threatened to get a piece of poster board, write the answers to the same five or six questions we'd been asked by more than 10 different people. Then, when a new nurse or doctor entered the room we could point to the poster and say – "Here are the answers to your questions. If you have any new ones, you may ask."

We waited for one health professional to walk in the room and say, "I just read through your chart. From what I understand…"

It's the same frustration I hear from customers when I monitor calls and follow the call from the IVR (which never really works to pop the account information – we're not sure why – a task force was created between I.T. and the call center supervisory group a few months ago to look into it and work with the vendor who sold it to us, installed it and disappeared – but we haven't heard back) to the initial CSR to another department, to another rep in another department. Each time the customer has to provide the same account information, verification information and explain the reason for their call all over again.

Patients/Customers deserve better.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and ruth flickr

  3 comments for ““I’ve already TOLD YOU THAT!”

  1. January 27, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Hi Tom, what you describe is so real. My hubby went through this, too. Isn’t it amazing how bureaucracy can trump reason?

  2. Brenda Bell
    January 29, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Amen about the repeats, and customer information not being transferred up. In my experience as a CSR on escalated technical calls, it frustrated both me and my customers that I was required to reconfirm all the details of the customer’s account and identification (not just that I had the correct account on-screen) before I could respond to the customer’s issue, based both on the customer’s presentation and whatever notes the escalating CSR might have left in the account. This sort of repeat ate up agent and customer time — longer with each repetition/escalation as the customer vented frustration and I had to explain I was required to do this before I could assist the customer with his technical issue, decreased customer satisfaction, and made it more difficult for the already-frustrated customer to concentrate on the technical information I needed from him, or the procedure I needed him to follow to resolve (or further pinpoint the source of) his technical issue(s).
    Taking this back to the medical, I can only imagine with fright what would have happened were this a true EMERGENCY, where mere seconds could have made the difference between life and death.

  3. February 2, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Thanks for the comment, Brenda. In my work with many different call centers I can attest that your experience as a CSR is a common one. I find that the vast majority of CSRs really WANT to do what is best for the customer. It’s really sad when, in a situation like you describe, it could be a win-win for both customer and CSR!
    Fortunately, ours was not a true emergency, but your point is very well taken!

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