Patients as Customers - through marriage, death, and car theft

When I'm frustrated by mistreatment in a retail purchase transaction, I usually state, calmly, that "I'm just trying to be a customer." Mistreatment to me is when staff (or owner) does not seem to value me as a customer and potential referrer to others. I am a number - just one more transaction to fill their coffers or make the time pass. We all experience this at times - but I am getting an ongoing dose at my optometrist's office.

It can be neglect, as well. Never follow up with me.

Before the middle of June I went into an optometrist's office for a new contact lens prescription. To this day, I am still waiting for it. When I was first there, I received a trial pair of contacts. I really liked the doctor, although he did not introduce himself as a doctor to me, just as, "Matt". I thought, perhaps this is the new way of patient relations - be their friend. He was not obviously different than others in the office - no white lab coat, no name badge - nothing. I asked him if he WAS the doctor, to which he looked puzzled, as if I should have figured it out - and said, "yes".

I got my trial contacts, and Matt (or is it, Dr. Matt) helped me learn an easier way to take my lenses out - which I'd had trouble with for some time. So I left that day pretty happy.

There was a delay getting back into the office because of my wedding, then family death, but I did get back in and a woman helped me this time. She also did not introduce herself to me as a doctor (is it me, or would you like some assurance before someone tells you things and maneuvers around and about your eyes?) I think I've pieced together that this is a husband and wife practice. Obviously they have the same policy about not revealing who they are to patients - or they mistakenly assume that I should KNOW who they are.

I was told my lenses did not fit right, and they would order another pair. I am still waiting for that pair.

When I had the good fortune to drop in when Matt could visibly see my frustration, I told him that I had been through a wedding, a family death, a stolen car and even since the vandalized car was recovered, and nearly repaired before anyone can correctly offer me a prescription for my eyes. Should I just stick to glasses, or how about Lasik?

I've been into the office three more times since, and have called in on four occasions. Rarely am I acknowledged with, "oh, yes, I remember you" or "yes, sorry about this - we are working on it" - it is always as if I'm explaining it again for the first time. I am a number in a busy busy office - which is located inside a much larger business.

It seems to me that this is a perfect example of not being understood as a customer. Patients ARE customers - I can take my business anywhere else - and in a case like this, I don't feel they would notice or care. But somehow, when I first met Matt, I did feel that he cares about patients. If this is true, then Matt needs to know that his practice does not reflect his intention to all.

What would I have liked? How about an unsolicited phone call saying, "I just wanted to let you know that we are working on this and have not forgotten you" - or a handwritten note - two sentences would be fine! Just let me know that you care. Let me know that you value my business - because if you don't, then I don't want to be your patient.

Perhaps this could be a manifesto for all patients? All I know is that I've lost patience!

Topics: Sales Ideas & Skills

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