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As many of my readers know, six months ago I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. Now, two biopsies, numerous diagnostic imaging tests and doctor visits, one outpatient surgery and seven weeks of radiation treatments later, I’m getting my strength back and feeling happy to have the worst of this behind me.

One thing that has really struck me through all of these medical appointments is the tremendous variations in “customer service” I experienced from one office to the next. Just like in the business world, some medical practices really “get” customer service and some clearly do not. Here are the lessons that I learned.



WHAT CANCER TAUGHT ME ABOUT CUSTOMER SERVICE


Situation: Confusing sign-in procedures
– After signing in at the doctor’s office I was completely ignored for 15 minutes. No “welcome,” no eye contact, nothing. Finally someone acknowledged my existence – and chastised me for signing in on the wrong clipboard! I hadn’t noticed the second clipboard, on which my surgeon’s name was covered by the sign-in paper.

  • Lesson Learned: User experience isn’t just for websites. A small sign stating “Please sign in here for Dr. C” would have really helped the “user experience” of this office’s check-in procedures.

Situation: Long waits – Two doctors kept me waiting an hour from my scheduled first visit appointment time before seeing me. The oncologist and his staff each apologized for the wait, explaining that there had been an emergency at the hospital. No one at the surgeon’s office said a word.

  • Lesson Learned: An apology goes a long way. If this surgeon didn’t have such an excellent reputation, I might have chosen someone else.

Situation: Completely avoidable complications – When I first heard the schedule for my two-part surgical procedure, I expressed concern that I’d need to be started on an IV early, as I tend to pass out if I don’t eat and drink. Unfortunately, the staff where Part 1 of the procedure was performed were emphatic that “we don’t do IVs here.” You can guess how this story ends.

  • Lesson Learned: Listen to your customers. If a customer asks you to make a slight modification to your processes to accommodate their special needs, make an effort to do so.

Situation: Exciting milestones – When I completed my 34th and final radiation treatment the staff surprised me by handing me a “Certificate of Completion” and singing “Happy Graduation Day to You!”

  • Lesson Learned: Celebrate your customers’ achievements. Even small and somewhat silly gestures can make a wonderful occasion even better.

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CUSTOMER SPOTLIGHT: CARDIAC MONITORING SERVICES

Cardiac Monitoring Services, a company that makes it easy for physicians to provide cardiac monitoring services to their patients, is all about customer service. They supply all of the necessary equipment, supplies and software at no cost to the physician; provide same day test results; and ensure their phones are answered by a live person 24/7. To learn more about this great example of a customer serviced-focus company, check out the website and tri-fold brochure that I wrote for them.



What Others Are Saying

"Each time I work with Linda, I am reminded just how well she understands marketing. Linda understands the principles of marketing on a psychological level. She sees the bigger picture. She is pragmatic, insightful and incredibly fast."

Kristine Putt,
Owner and Brand Identity Designer, Paragon Moon