Was just on the phone with my hand surgeon’s office making an appointment. Turns out, I need x‑rays before the appointment. The receptionist says “would you like to hold so I can call and make the appointment with the x‑ray lab for you?”
She must have taken my stunned silence for yes, because she efficiently left and returned confirming my appointment and answering my question before I could even verbalize it (Yes, I do need to wait for the film to be developed and then bring them and my hands to the office).
How’s that for service? Surprised. Maybe you wouldn’t be if I told you that this doctor is not in my insurance plan.
That explains it. See, I originally chose her for her reputation. I’ve had a 12 year relationship with her since then. Combine that inherent value with the level of service demonstrated by today’s conversation, and I’m fortunate that I’m a single white-collar worker who can “splurge” on health-care to treat what I fear is a debilitating degenerative disease (arthritis).
How’s an insurance company supposed to value these softer bits, like reputation, relationship, or service? They can’t. Or, they choose not to. They charge a flat rate for both the doctor fresh out of school with no surgical experience and Dr. Susan Scott, the former 8‑year team doctor for the New York Liberty.
Doesn’t make sense, does it?
How about this one… I noticed a conversation on twitter about a problem Christina was having with Comcast. Due to “system limitations” she’s had to pay a $495 bill twice to keep her account from being closed (funny tweets — read this, then this, then this, but notice the tone shortly after here and here). Like my arthritis that can’t be ignored, phone/internet access is a requirement in our culture (she and the person she lives with both work at home, so it’s critical they get online). Yet Comcast is telling Christina that their account problem is really her problem and until they work it out, she has to pony up the cash or be left in the dark.
Crazy right? Well, all too common. But, what I find more interesting…
@ComcastCares got on it, reassured her by listening, and I suspect solved the problem rather quickly.
I had a similar issue with Wells Fargo a month or so ago. Called customer service and the person was an Idiot. (Yes, that is “Capital‑I idiot” on purpose.) @Ask_WellsFargo listened to my (rather logical) explanation of what was going on, and it was more-or-less fixed rather quickly and with a whole lot less frustration on my part.
Why is that? Why can things be fixed on twitter when they can’t be fixed in multi-million-dollar call centers?
Now this is important…
I believe it’s because the people between customer service reps and the customer, you know… those people who are supposed to make things more efficient and consistent, they haven’t yet tried to “fix” customer support on twitter and what you’re actually seeing is raw, and beautiful, problem solving. Twitter, for the time being, cuts across all the crap to simply connect two people who want to get things done, and let’s them use their own common sense to figure it out.
And, the action item?
Well, simple. Give people guidelines and an escalation path in case the guidelines can’t be followed, and your staff will astound you with results. Give them “decision trees” to follow and they’ll respond by dumbing themselves down to match the decision tree, forgetting the objective is not to follow a decision path, but to make customers happy.
This may seem less efficient, but it starts to consider some of the softer values that are not easily quantifiable. And in the end, I believe it’ll make a world of difference.
PS @ComcastCares seems to be one smart guy, but @WellsFargo has a team, and they change their photo at the beginning of their shift, so you’re tweeting with a person. Very nice touch.
Update: May 20th. Just came back from my “insurance plan regular doctor” (checkup, nothing major thank you for your concern) and the receptionist made me sign a waiver that said the doctors office couldn’t keep up with my plan details, and if they did something that wasn’t on the plan (or needed a referral, etc) it was my responsibility. Fascinating. The doctor that doesn’t take insurance can keep up with the details as a way of providing a higher level of service, but teh doctor that is in the plan cannot.