Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Insulting your customers with poor process

Most process and customer service is bad, so it's more often exceptionally good things that are worth noting anymore. It takes something really bad to make me annoyed enough to tell everyone. But today I am with my Dad getting an MRI for his ongoing cancer thing and we had to go to Shawnee Mission Medical Center. Most hospitals seem to have gone to this system, which I guess they think is providing extra customer service, where you have to check in at the front desk. Then they have you fill out some paperwork in a cubicle and someone – usually the person who has been with you the whole time – walks you to the department you are visiting. SMMC tried this, and failed. It's particularly galling as they are just finishing a huge expansion, and the hospital is now topped with a large, green glass polygon. The reception desk is immediately inside the front door, so you have to wait in the drafty lobby. Did I mention the waiting? Two stations only, and you apparently (we pre-registered) cannot get out of there in under three minutes. Some people take over 10 minutes. We were in this line for a long time, and there's no need for it. We didn't fill out paper at the cubicles, but I was there long enough that it was clear what was happening. The reception desk people, who take too long anyway, then make you wait in a waiting room. Eventually (based on the number of people there and how deeply they were into their magazines) they call you. Privacy of course means they cannot, so they say "Sheila, last name starts with D." Escorts are the worst part though. As in some places, they are senile volunteers. But these guys sit there behind the main reception desk, drinking coffee and joking. So you come up and see a long line, two people working (and sometimes they walk away so its only one) and a bunch of folks not apparently helping. This is expressly annoying, and was overtly so not just to me. But the poor escort system doesn't stop! The old men are not paying attention, and are hard of hearing. So, the reception person gives them a folder of critical info you need to get your procedure done (they give you nothing) then he wanders off and comes out several yards away and starts yelling your name. Even after I said it, and raised my hand he was confused and stopped everyone to ask "are you Scott?!" Then he helps you by walking slower than even old, sick people, and points out the way to the MRI department, which otherwise you'd never find, I guess. Poor process can prevent people from concluding tasks, or it can be part of something they are already dedicated to or are required to do, and it just insults and annoys them. Don't think just because there is no immediate measure like dropped-carts and churn that poor process isn't affecting your customers and your bottom line.

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