I had an appointment with the eye doctor this morning. It was a familiar experience, one that I wrote about 2.5 years ago in a post called Eye Yi Yi. Not a thing has changed – not the timing, not the staff ignoring patients and chatting over coffee, nothing. I reread what I wrote then and it still applies. I wish the doctor himself wasn’t one of the best eye docs in the state. While the exam went longer this time, the principles haven’t. Great docs obviously don’t make great business experiences. We can learn from this, however, no matter what our business might be!
Nothing like a bad customer experience with a medical professional to begin one’s day on a happy note! OK, so I don’t wear sarcasm well, but it’s either snark or anger (it’s a fine line!) so I’m going with the former. Let’s get your take.
I generally schedule my medical appointments early. In fact, I try to be the first appointment of the day if possible. In theory (and today proves it’s JUST a theory), I should be able to get in and out quickly so the entire day isn’t disrupted. As it turned out this morning, not so much. However, it is a nice lesson on how not to treat your customers.
The doc opens up at 8 which is the time of my appointment. I present myself on time, walk to the reception desk, and am greeted with…nothing. Oh, the receptionist is there, but she’s arranging papers, printing out forms (and not the day’s calendar of appointments – that’s sitting in front of her), and generally doing her best to ignore me. After a minute or so, there’s a mumbled “I’ll be right with you”. Three minutes later (I only know because it was 5 after 8 when she spoke to me) I get a “yes?” OK, so I get it’s a little weird that I’m noticing how long I’m waiting, but remember the premise: first in, no waiting, out quickly.
I tell her “I’m Keith.” “Last name?” My immediate response: “the schedule is right in front of you. How many people named Keith are scheduled to be here at 8?” stayed inside my brain while I told her. “Have a seat.” 8:06
I know who is going to examine me and she’s right there in the office. Chatting and drinking coffee. For the next 10 minutes. 8:16 is when I was called into the exam room. I don’t generally bill by the quarter-hour, but if I did, these folks would now owe me more than I’ll owe them for the appointment. It was a 5-minute eye exam, and when I asked about some results she informed me she didn’t have my chart because the doctor had it at his house. Oh. But he’d be right in. OK.
5 minutes later, in walks the doctor, chartless. Looks at the results of the exam, takes a quick look at my eyes, and says he’ll call me but if he doesn’t I should call him to discuss the results. Visit over.
Here are my takeaways that I think apply to any business:
- An appointment is something that’s binding on both you and your customer. You expect them to be there on time, you need to be as well. I totally get that people might be delayed due to traffic or other issues. Which leads to the second point.
- When you break the above agreement, a little apology is called for. I got none.
- The person greeting customers (and patients are customers!) needs to be personable and customer-focused. Grumpy, even first thing in the morning, is never acceptable.
- When you are not prepared, don’t put the onus on your customer to fix your mistake. Not having the chart is your problem – don’t make it mine by asking me to call you.
- Finally, no customer should ever leave your business angry. Not ever.
Maybe I’m overreacting, but compare it to yesterday’s experience. I walked in at the required time and within 5 minutes I was out of the waiting room (in the middle of the day in a busy office) and into an exam. Well-run businesses are easy to spot!
That’s my take – what’s yours?