I try to talk to clients about the new reality in business. Customers have more power than ever before.
You used to be able to treat your customers with disdain and it wasn’t really a big deal, because you had all the power. Now, the dynamic has switched 180 degrees.
When Finnegan was born we looked around for a pediatrician and settled on Schmidt & Catchings Family Practice in Cary, NC. The first appointment we had there went pretty well. Then each appointment got longer and longer. Finally we were waiting an hour before we would finally be seen. As bad as that is normally, with a squirmy 1 year old it should actually be criminal.
So finally we decided to leave the practice because of the horrendous waits and also the poor office staff in general. We had actually liked the woman who saw our baby, but the aggravation outweighed that.
So how did the business try to keep us as patients? They didn’t.
Did they ask how they could have done better? No.
What they did do, is tell us that before they could release our records to the new doctor, they would have to make photo copies of everything and mail it over (even though he is in the same medical complex). I was a little surprised since the doctor always had a laptop, and everything was stored electronically, but I figured they had their reasons.
A few weeks later we received a bill for $28.25 for photo copies.
The pediatrician was taking the opportunity of us leaving to stick us with one final bill. My wife thought $28.25 seemed a bit excessive for making some photo copies and sent them a long letter explaining that this was the type of crap that finally pushed us to find a new practice, and sent them a check for $10.
In another gigantic show of ignorance and hubris, they sent us another bill with the $10 credited. No letter in response, no call, no nothing.
Schmidt & Catchings has driven me to writing blog posts on how to screw up with a customer, and then keep screwing up even after they are no longer your customer! I thought this only happened with cell phone companies.
So what is Schmidt and Catchings getting out of this?
- They have alienated a former customer, who used to be mostly neutral about their practice, and made me speak out as an opponent.
- I have filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau
- I have gone online and posted my story in dozens of forums where people ask for recommendations for pediatricians
- I have told dozens of people this story, many of them with small children as well.
- I have written a blog posting that will now live forever on the web
- They may someday get an additional $18 from us.
So what Schmidt and Catchings has done is stopped thinking and fallen back to “this is how we always do it”.
When any business stops seeing it’s customers as people, they get in trouble, and I think that’s what happened in this case.
I just checked their website to get their email address, I wanted to let them know that I had posted this. I guess I shouldn’t really be surprised that they don’t have anyway to contact the office via email – sheesh.
I received their response to my complaint to the BBB, which included this piece of superb customer service…
The complaint about the fee for processing medical records. Mr. Buckley signed the request form, and just below his signature, very clearly, it states our policy and charges for processing medical records. This is a practice that is very common and not done only at Schmidt and Catchings.
First off, “very clearly” may be a bit of a stretch, but even better is the “everyone does it” defense!
Was that typo in your name on the BBB site done on purpose? Also, they are just preparing you for the socialized healthcare that is right around the corner. If you think the waits are bad now, just wait till the people who think they are “entitled” to healthcare for their children start getting in line. Nothing improves the service of an already flailing business like the incentive of paying them regardless of the quality of their service, and overloading them with a bunch of people with their hands out. You can complain all you want, but things aren’t going to get any better. Quite the contrary, you can point out all their flaws, and they figure similarly to the cellphone companies, that eventually all healthcare providers are going to stop caring, stop providing decent service, when they become so overrun that it honestly won’t matter anymore. Where else will you be able to go if everyone is mediocre and busy?
i think your message is a little overboard. maybe one day they would create drive up clinics for you and your family. since the wait time for you is the most important thing. since you are so unsatisfied why even consider sending the 18 dollars…..
its more serious things in life then stressing over a bad doctor visit. maybe you should view the march of dimes website (karma)that should give you something to stress about!!
and just a word of advice coming from a caring parent i would never give my child a tub of duncan hines whipped chocolate with cake to eat. wow look at them calories.
@shy, my message is simple, treat your customers better, I don’t think that message is overboard in any type of way.
Second, I’m not considering sending them the $18.
Third, I’m not stressed out about the situation, as much as I am amazed at the terrible way the business is treating one of it’s customers.
Thankfully we have “caring” parents out there to lecture us “non-caring” parents.
What in God’s name would make you think anyone in their right mind would give a toddler an entire tub of Duncan Hines whipped chocolate frosting to eat? Maybe you jumped to that conclusion because you have decided I’m a terrible person for pointing out a business that treated me poorly, so therefore I feed my son that way?
Did the idea ever enter your head that I gave him the near empty can after frosting a cake for the photo opportunity? Nah, that couldn’t be the case.
If you like Schmidt & Catchings, then I’m glad for you. It’s important to like your doctors, but why do you need to attack me for pointing out why I left them? I find that a little weird.
My wife and I deal with medical practices all day long. Most often the Dr. doesn’t even know that their customer service is bad. It’s all the front office people and the Dr. never knows (even though they should). Dr.’s are clearly not business people. You should write a letter addressed to the Dr. or try to email them directly.