Reasons to You are Excuses to Your Clients

I visit a lot of doctors’ offices.  Not for me, but with a member of my family who is a cancer survivor of 13 years.

Good news, he survived cancer; bad news, the chemotherapy caused severe neuropathy in his feet and hands.  It also destroyed his intestinal track and immune system while causing major havoc with his eye sight, balance, strength and ability to walk.  We go to a lot of doctors’ offices.

We have been to Neurologists, Oncologists, Pain Management Specialists, Gastroenterologists, Dermatologists and Ophthalmologists just to name a few.

Oh, let’s not forget the Orthopedic surgeon!  A few months ago marked his ninth foot surgery – yes, nine major foot surgeries.

I now have a whole new level of emotion and passion for insurance companies, and not in a good way.

The point being, I have been to a lot of doctors’ offices, dealt with a lot of healthcare professionals and am recognized by sight at the pharmacy.  Over the past 13 years I have dealt with a lot of healthcare professionals.

Let me reiterate that this is a member of my family.  My family is my core.  I give whole new meaning to the phrase Momma Bear when it comes to my family.

One thing that brings out the Momma Bear is when someone in my family is treated with disrespect.  A few of the times Momma Bear came out due to poor customer service from healthcare staff:

When a new treatment facility ignored all the documentation that we and the original provider gave to them and double dosed him on some major meds.

They didn’t see the paperwork the other facility sent over.
They didn’t see the copies of the meds and dosages that we provided.
The list we provided didn’t make it into his chart.
My favorite was it was his fault, he should have known not to take what they gave him.
The woman who told me this was fired shortly thereafter, again, Momma Bear.

When the surgeons office did not contact his employer about him being on sick leave for the most recent surgery thus causing him to have his pay severely delayed.

They didn’t know.  (This was his 5th surgery with this group – not new)
No one told them. (I personally handed the paperwork to an assistant and it was faxed by his employer)
The nurse didn’t know (I left her three voice-mails that day)
Oh, well, she did get the voice-mails, but the information was not provided (I left detailed messages, my son explained this to her as he was with me when I made the calls).
They never got the form (confirmed sent by the employer and again, I gave it to them)
Oh, they got the form, but the woman who takes care of it is super busy doing three jobs and doesn’t have the time to go through the 2 inch stack of paperwork coming through the fax.  (ok, seriously?)

Yesterday, Momma Bear came out again.

He contacted the doctor’s office last Wednesday to tell them he was out of one of his scripts.  Friday, I left two voice-mails.  Monday I paid a visit to the office.

The person was out of the office, come back tomorrow (I don’t think so)
They didn’t see the original communication. (and yet had record of the two other communications)
They are going through a transition.
They are short staffed.
They wanted to look it up. (This could have been done Wednesday, Thursday or Friday).
Their staff is really overbooked.

As a person who tries to generally look at the bright side of things, give others the benefit of the doubt and in general strives to be a kind person I just have three words for the providers and their reasons:

I don’t care!

Every single reason can be valid.  It can be a true and genuine statement.

But they all turned into excuses because:

There was no ownership
There was no accountability
There was blame
There was no apology

You are accountable to your clients, not for them.  There is a line there; however, there is defiantly accountability.

There are life events that at times hamper us from fulfilling commitments. That is understandable and unavoidable. These events represent a reason, not an excuse.

An excuse is blaming for not doing the work; a reason is a delay with the work completed.

I have the best clients, they are amazing human beings.  When I had an event transpire that caused a delay, my clients were compassionate, which I appreciated deeply.  But on some level I also knew they don’t care.

They don’t care if my dog passed, my kid is sick or there is some major event going on in my life.  They may empathize and truly feel bad; but bottom line, they still want the service I promised and they deserve it.

When an event happens that makes you break your promise to your clients, it is your responsibility to take immediate action.

Communicate: let them know what is going on.  If it is going to be delayed they want to know sooner rather than later.

Apologize: do not blame, do not try to get sympathy, simply apologize.

Own it: let them know what you are doing to make it right, right now.

Follow through: thank them for their patience or understanding, deliver the goods and continue a professional relationship.

The next time you find yourself explaining a delay to a client, ask yourself, “Am I giving a reason or an excuse?”

The answer will be in what you have done since the event and what you do next.

One last thing, you may not like it when the patient/family/customer turns Momma Bear on you, they most likely do not like it either.  I hate the fact that I have to go into that mode to get proper treatment!  I do not know anyone who enjoys being mean to get what should be a given: proper service.  If the service is continually below par, your client may feel this is their only resort.  That should speak volumes to you.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer

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