I had an appointment with a new doctor this afternoon at 3 p.m. I arrived dutifully 20 minutes early to complete the 800 pages of paperwork, which included an acknowledgment that I could be charged $25 if I am late or cancel in less than 24 hours within an appointment time.
Know where I'm going with this?
Shortly after 3 p.m., I go into the exam room. The assistant takes vitals and tells me I'm next.
The doctor's thin walls allow me to hear his conversation with another patient. He takes her family history and she tells him that no one in her family has had the same problem, blah, blah, blah. My mind travels between their conversation and the unending stream of messages from my company through my Blackberry.
At least I am able to get some work done while I wait.
As my ears travel back to the conversation on the other side of the wall, I note that their topic has traveled from her bowels to real estate.
"You can get a one bedroom for under one-fifty," she tells him.
It is 3:45 p.m. At that point, I decide I've waited long enough. I gather my things and walk out. The office staff is apologetic.
"I can't imagine what is keeping him so long," his assistant says.
"He's talking about real estate with another patient," I say.
I just had a conversation with someone recently about how in today's economy, customer service is what keeps businesses alive. Medical practices, however, are kind of immune to customer service demands. We tend to put physicians on pedestals and treat them as superior to us, rather than people we've hired to do a job.
Would you tolerate it if your mechanic kept you waiting that long? Would you be patient if your dry cleaner left you in the lobby for 45 minutes? If you had a hair appointment at 1 p.m., and 30 minutes late you overheard your stylist chatting with her previous client about, oh, say, REAL ESTATE, wouldn't you be ticked?
The right thing for this doctor to do would be to call me and apologize for keeping me waiting so long. If he's heard of "customer service," he'd do that. But he won't. I'm back at square one wondering whether I should reschedule with him or start over to find someone else. The thing is: They're all like this.