Success & Prosperity Blog

The Customer Prevention Department

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by Randy Gage
Business Woman Series 20

Recently we looked at how creating unrealistic expectations kills business.  But how about something even more basic – customer service?

It is simply shocking how many businesses seem to have a customer prevention department.  They actually appear to do anything possible to drive business away.

Here’s an experience I have to share with you, because there are so many lessons to be learned from it…

Dr. Jack M. Trainor in Fort Lauderdale promotes his practice as Trainor Sports Medicine.  The website says he was a college baseball player who tried to continue his career professionally for a few years.  Since I’m interested in extending my legendary (in my own mind) softball career, I called for an appointment.

The call went very long.  The lady wanted extensive information, including my date of birth, what conditions I wanted treatment for, what insurance, plan number, member number, etc.  After all that, she confirmed the appointment and said I should arrive 15 minutes early – to fill out the new patient form.  I asked if that wasn’t what we just did, since she asked for everything.

She said, “No, that’s just so we can enter you in the system.”  Now if there’s one thing I hate, it’s when people waste my time, because that is so valuable.  But what’s the point of arguing with a robotic employee who doesn’t make policy?  She said the form was on the website and could be filled out there.

When you fill out the form online, it’s just a PDF you download:  You have to print it out and bring it in; nothing is entered into the system.  Think how much sense it would make to actually have data fields on the site, so everything the patient enters would automatically be in the system.

Then, the few extra things that weren’t in the phone interview wouldn’t need to be manually entered by an employee.  (And of course if you did do that, you wouldn’t need to waste the patients’ time with an extra 15 minutes on the appointment call.)

Imagine a software package specifically for doctors, dentists, chiropractors and other professionals (attorneys, accountants, etc.)  that they could put on their websites and mobile apps to expedite the new patient/client process.   Not sure, maybe Clay Collins, Brian Short, or Naomi & Jim Rhode already have a template system like this.   If you do, I know a place that needs it!  If not, there’s a great opportunity for someone here…

Now what are the lessons so far?

Like a lot of businesses today, this one is torn between the paper world of the past and the digital world of the present.  They’ve been having new patients fill out paper questionnaires for years, and no one is enough of a critical thinker to question whether it still makes sense.   They took all the information on the phone, then made me do it again on the form because they don’t care about inconveniencing their patients or making it easy to buy from them.

Now some of you will argue that doctors and other professionals get an exemption from this.  They see people as patients, not customers.  (I actually used to manage a medical center once, and can sympathize with the hassles of running a practice today in the HMO and Obamacare environment.)

But lousy customer service is still lousy customer service…

So that was supposed to be the blog today.  A short rant about lousy customer service and an example to demonstrate how solving a problem could create a new business opportunity.  

But wait until you read what happened next…

I arrive at the appointed time.  The nurse or medical assistant calls me into the back just a few minutes later.  That’s a promising sign.  Then she says, “We’re going to sit down and talk a few minutes, I’ll take some pictures of your shoulder, and then you can make an appointment for your herniated disc.”

Of course I reply that I’m there to check out both my shoulder and herniated disc.  She says, “We only work on one body part each appointment.  You can schedule another appointment for your back.  That’s the way we have to do it.”

I explain that my herniated disc is causing me the most pain and I want to speak to the doctor about it.  She replies, “Then we can look at your back this appointment and make another appointment for your shoulder.”

I don’t even now how to process what she’s telling me; it might as well be Swahili.  I start stuttering and stammering, trying to explain that I have two issues to discuss with the doctor.  She says, “I’m sure they told you when you made the appointment: we only treat one body part at a time.”  I respond that they certainly did NOT tell me that, and I want to speak to the doctor about both issues.  She stops what she is doing, looks very sternly at me and says, “I’m not trying to give you a hard time.  And I don’t expect you to give me a hard time.”

Now I’m looking around for the hidden camera, thinking this has to be a new prank reality show.  No such luck… 

She tells me that my insurance only covers one condition per appointment.  “Okay,” I reply, “I just pay the difference.”

She says that’s “not allowed.”

“Okay I will just pay cash for both things, just forget the insurance.”

“We can’t do that; it’s illegal.”

“It is not illegal.  There are no laws that prohibit me from paying cash for my own medical care.”

“It’s too late.  We already entered your insurance information.  I told you, I’m not trying to give you a hard time.  And I don’t expect you to give me a hard time.  We only treat one body part at a time.”

“I want a holistic doctor, one that treats my whole body.”

“I told you, we only treat one body part at a time.”

I took one last look, hoping to find a camera crew somewhere, so we could all laugh about the joke, but there was none.  So I left.

There are enough customer service and marketing lessons in this one 20-minute experience to build a whole workshop around.  Bottom line: It doesn’t matter if you call them clients, passengers, patients, or some other label – they are still customers.  And businesses that want to stay in business should respect them.  Make it easy for people to spend money with you, instead of driving them away.

-RG

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97 comments
PavelVanhara
PavelVanhara

Can't agree more!!! Recently I had quiet simillar experience with booking and arriving at a hostel ... it made a profound impact on my life priorities and changed my life totaly. As I left that place and called a taxi to a local best hotel. That difference between service at the hostel and at the hotel was staggering!! I had even contacted owner of the hotel personally and appreciated his work as I was just blown away with such a great treatment after that terrible experience at the hostel. Anyways I am so glad I had that experience!!

Lyndon
Lyndon

Hi Randy.

I read this article several months ago.  I had returned to thank you for sharing your experience because it presented a great opportunity.

As a software developer focused on the health industry, I was struck by "Imagine a software package specifically for doctors, dentists, chiropractors and other professionals (attorneys, accountants, etc.)  that they could put on their websites and mobile apps to expedite the new patient/client process."  I believe that I have a great solution to that part of the problem.

For anyone interested, please contact me.

clara
clara

I'm a 30 year veteran nurse and I've never heard of any medical facility treating or xraying one body part at a time! Weird and out of touch...not even ObamaCare would sanction such a medial travesty... Perhaps this facility should be reported to the EEOC or Better Business Bureau if privately owned. No reputable Medical facility would turn down a patients paying his billing out of pocket, either..

jeanne kidd
jeanne kidd

I was a "cash customer" for years. As soon as we got health insurance, I could no longer go see my regular doctor because they didn't take THAT insurance. I asked the same question. "What if I just pay cash?" They told me that would be illegal. SInce I had insurance I could not also be a cash customer, even though they didn't take my insurance. CRAZY! 

Jeanne

 

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

Hi Randy - I am new to all this blogworld and to your ideas but am loving it all so far! I especially like the interactivity: so many communicators appear to have it all sorted and to speak from distant peaks of serenity, which feel completely inaccessible to lesser mortals...But not so here - you're real, dealing with real issues, asking the same questions we all ask and it's fabulous!!

(Not much to do with Customer Prevention I know but still..)

(PS Do you only have inspirational thoughts between Monday and Friday? Nothing on Saturday or Sunday? (Fun!!! - sorry my English sense of humour!!). Elizabeth, West Sussex. 

PeterGHorrill
PeterGHorrill

The prosperity lesson and opportunity is, correct me if I'm mistaken RG, that A) there's an entrepreneurial opportunity to "create" and orginate some software to market to professional people, that would save others from having to go thru want Randy went thru.. THAT'S PROSPERITY! and B) in this imperfect and still somewhat "areas and individuals of true prosperity here and there throughout the globe" leading THE "MOVEMENT" (that's RG and us "deputies" folks), we are going to encounter negativity from people and buisness still "stuck" in anti-prosperous mindsets and philosophies. The "yield" for us students of prosperity are "oceans of opportunity" everywhere!   PERSPECTIVE..  ie: 'cynicsm' is anti-prosperity  RG'S new book is exacty what this blogpost is all about! I beleive.. 

mike
mike

Randy, I post only because you mentioned you had run a medical office in the past. I am an MD, and medical care in these United States is not what I went to school for, nor want to do (hence currently working on Plan B in MLM).  As mentioned by iceburner, there is an actual law that criminalizes good  basic medical care. And guess who enforces these medical laws - FBI. I mean, do you really want these guys ENFORCING medical guidelines???  I used to spend 2 hours with a patient at their initial visit - and all medical problems were fair game.  I get one - and only one - chance to NOT pigeon-hole the new patient, hence the time.  Sadly, with the recent realities we face, I can no longer do that.  And finally there is another aspect not examined here: The average medical office actually does their best to give excellent customer support - IF you accept the sad reality that in the average medical practice, the customer is actually the insurance company (they pay the bills...).

 

On another note, I am working my way through your body of work, printed and audio. Awesome stuff!!!

BroVic
BroVic

"Now I’m looking around for the hidden camera, thinking this has to be a new prank reality show.  No such luck…" Hahahaha. Truly, this must have been a ridiculous encounter. How mindless!

iceburner
iceburner

Actually there is a law, implemented by congress [R] during the Clinton [D] administration that makes it illegal for a doctor to take cash and insurance payments.  IF they ever take cash, no more insurance [medicare] and if they take insurance they cannot accept cash. ... [copays are another issue part of insurance, not considered cash.]  And people ask me why I left?!

SEOWebGirl
SEOWebGirl

WOW! I'm from South Florida; so unfortunately I can't say I am all that surprised. We lack customer service here in almost every way. It's a terrible shame!

MrsHealthandProsperity
MrsHealthandProsperity

Hmmmm....sure has been a lot of focus on the negatives 'round here, lately.  Here's the story as I see it (I'm a Law of Attraction coach)  Randy focussed on poor customer service from the airlines.  Law of Attraction always, consistently, gives us more of what we focus on.  "Poor customer service?" it says, "OK." 

 I expect Randy will continue to attract more poor customer service; we'll be watching, our friend!

 

You see - the Law of Attraction is like the Law of Flotation - it always works.  If you float around in your kayak, enjoying a lovely day, you are experiencing the Law of Flotation.  If you run your kayak over a rock, and tear a hole in the bottom and sink, you are experiencing the Law of Flotation. It is still working, just fine!

 

The Law of Flotation is about displacing water.  Displace water, you float; don't displace water, sink.

The Law of Attraction is about focus & attention.  Focus on what you like, attract more of what you like; focus on what you don't like, get more of what you don't like.

 

Luckily, our kayaker can flip that kayak over, and use it as a flotation device.

Randy could flip his focus over, and begin telling us about his experience with flourishing businesses that provide  terrific customer service. It would take us to the same lesson, The Value of Great Customer Service, AND it would allow Randy, and us, to enjoy being the recipients of great customer service. To my mind, that is a much pleasanter way to live.  Of course, some folks like the adrenaline/testosterone rush of The Battle.  That's fine, but personally, I prefer peace & happiness.

 

 

 

 

Eszter
Eszter

Randy,

You have an appointment at he Orthopedic Clinic of Budapest, on the 30th of January, 2013 at 11 am, where they can take care of your several parts at the same time.

If you need to change the date, please call at 10 am at the same day, 

Adress: 27th Karolina Rd., XIst distr. Budapest, Hungary. Get better!

Dr Szabolcs Kiraly, +36209254233

Tmima
Tmima

OMG.

Lack of common sense and rigidness is the last thing you need in running a business. 

Sorry you went through that.

Justin Wheeler
Justin Wheeler

Businesses are built or lost in almost exactly the same way, one customer at a time.... Thanks for the share, sparked a few ideas!

ogpeps
ogpeps

Hahaha very funny randy, sorry you had to go tru that but good thing it.wasn't the twilight zone tudo..tudoo.tudodo ..tudodudo...lol

JanisSupe
JanisSupe

I am 100% sure that in this case employees worked for fixed salary and are not receiving % for each customer. They do not feel as co-owners of that process - they are just robots in that company.

Louis H Uffmire
Louis H Uffmire

wow, both - doctor's office and medical insurance need training in efficiency and customer service (and let's picture this situation in an ER - *we are only allowed to treat one condition at a time*

Gary Brewer
Gary Brewer

Thanks for the insightful post I totally agree and have heard this one before!

Bonnie Squires
Bonnie Squires

Randy I know just how you feel. I need to go to the dentist and i called for 2 weeks in a row all i got is an answering service. When i finally got threw I was told I can't make an app. till i fill out the paper work than bring it to them which is an hour away than they will make an app. than i'll go get xrays and that is it than go back to have my teeth done. I couldn't believe it.

Mark Reynolds
Mark Reynolds

Unfortunately this sounds very familiar. I've often had appointments with 'professionals' which have been preceded by extensive conversations and note-taking over the phone, only to arrive and find out that none of that information was conveyed to the 'professional', and in some cases, that the 'professional' could not help me with my particular problem !

Donna Black Bethea
Donna Black Bethea

Have had a similar experience myself. My pet peeve is doctors offices that have a 15 minute cancellation policy (if you are late they cancel and charge you for visit ) but keep you waiting in the exam room. I once asked a physician if he was going to pay me because he was late.

Debbie Falconer
Debbie Falconer

Perhaps you are an holistic healer-I had another cleansing laugh.

When I scanned your blog and saw the phrases "not allowed" that's illegal" "I will just pay cash", I assumed that you were seeking in America what is only happily provided in Amsterdam.

Besides that, the gatekeeper you encountered is not interested in growing business. Seriously, it is best to say ok, no problem, and then when the doctor/therapist arrives, you tell the real story. I think poor Jack Trainor actually wants to help, but his mother-in-law does the intake forms.

From a marketing perspective: his website tagline is "Putting the patient first, is what we are all about!"

I bet he thinks American Airlines rocks. :)

Marian Gurowicz
Marian Gurowicz

I was trying to find the rational side of the doctor's story.  I thought maybe they didn't do the processing online because they were concerned with the person's privacy.  The further into the story the more ridiculous the doctor's office sounded!

William Strong
William Strong

This happens all to often, recently took me 5 weeks to sort a problem which could have been sorted in 5 minutes.

Ty Col
Ty Col

Great example, great story.

ChrisJones
ChrisJones

I can so relate to this ...some people providing services seem to be giftwrapping a clientele to their competitors ! 

 

CarlyAlyssaThorne
CarlyAlyssaThorne

While YES it is true that for INSURANCES Purposes they can ONLY See You for ONE issue, it is BS that You cannot DISCUSS both issues... and Made Plans for whatever Test may need to be given... That Docs office was a Crappy excuse for Customer service and for being a Holistic Doc.   I have had 27 Surgeries and Everytime I see my different docs although We ONLY BILL for ONE Specific issue since any Injury or Illness affect the ENTIRE BODY how DO YOU NOT discuss other issues... LOL....

pandkenterprises
pandkenterprises

Randy:

 

On a different note, if you are interested in healing your back and shoulder, please give me a call. I can refer you to a Class 2 medical device in your area that will eliminate the pain and increase your mobility. I am 56 years old and I am the starting third baseman for the Warriors baseball team. I have bone-on-bone on my left knee and was told I would need a knee replacement. I was constantly getting cortisone and Synvisc shots to alleviate the pain. I was told I would have to give up baseball and skiing. I am now pain free and I continue to run, play baseball, and ski. If interested, please give me a call at 406-581-9200.

Lenore Goodnreadytogo
Lenore Goodnreadytogo

Hi Randy, Insurance and government have ruined the doctor patient relationship! Regards, Lenore Goodnreadytogo

Greg71
Greg71

Lol, I want a holistic doctor.

Chris Inman
Chris Inman

You know -- one of the worst things about this is that the Nurse thinks that she was "in the right" and cant see past the stupidity of it all... I am sure she went home and around the office afterwards telling everyone how "difficult" you were -- some will never get it and don't care to get it- best to leave them to their own extinction.

Leo Basic
Leo Basic

So many places has a service like that

Randy_Gage
Randy_Gage moderator

 @MrsHealthandProsperity I don't focus on poor customer service.  I focus on how to grow businesses and create wealth.  And some of those lessons come from good examples (which I also feature) and some come from poor examples.

 

-RG

CatherineLuense
CatherineLuense

I once asked a physician if he was going to pay me because he was late. That is a good one! What was his reply?

MrsHealthandProsperity
MrsHealthandProsperity

 @Randy_Gage

 Indeed you DO focus on how to grow businesses and create wealth, and oh my goodness we love that (and you)!

 I would posit, however, that it is possible to focus on both Poor Customer Service (and attract more) AND on finding new ways to help your tribe grow businesses and create wealth.  They t'ain't mutually exclusive, are they?

I just attracted a banking glitch;  I know exactly how I did that, and I will use it as a teaching point about how to avoid attracting-what-we-don't-want.

AND I will clean up my act so that I don't attract similar, uncomfortable, teaching-points. Who needs 'em?  People can learn from Negatives, People can learn from Positives.  As a human being as well as teacher, I prefer to experience Positives, and teach from Positives. 

Debbie Falconer
Debbie Falconer

 @MrsHealthandProsperity  @Randy_Gage 

And yet-congruent with Randy's teachings on the value for value exchange, he showed up educated on the product, form-prepared, willing to pay. That value was met with a short list of how we would not receive the product as marketed. Second, RINS wise, it has received many comments on other people's poor service experiences, showing us, the prosperity student, the blue ocean of possibility for us. Really offer value, and you will receive value in return, because so many are screwing it up. 

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