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Is anyone STILL reading this?

I like to read the news and I like when they feature obscure studies about how much time you have spent on various activities in your life.  Did you know that by the time you are aged 50 years you have slept 6000 days, worked 6500 days, walked 800 days, and sick for 500 days?  You may have also spent 69 days brushing your teeth and up to six weeks tying your shoes, unless you wear Velcro, of course.

What I would like to know is how much time I have spent listening to contemporary jazz, recorded advertisements, and periodic affirmations of how important my call is while I wait for the notorious “next available representative”.  Hours, days, years?  In old age, will I look back on my life and wonder what remarkable things I could have accomplished if I was never on hold?

As a consumer, I try to simply take my business elsewhere, but unfortunately the hold has become the new norm.  It’s like a rite of passage or initiation that must be suffered for the privilege of speaking to someone who (hopefully) can help you.  These days, an office without extensive hold times can be few and far between.  Yet, I make it a point to find one, and when I do they get my business.

Just a couple of months ago I woke up one morning to terrible heel pain; plantar fasciitis.  I Googled podiatry for Phoenix and started calling the list.  I called at least 8 podiatry offices hoping that someone could get me in that week.  I should have lowered my hopes to simply finding an office that would answer the phone.  Half of the offices immediately put and kept me on hold for at least five minutes before I hung up and moved on.  The other half didn’t even answer the phone at all; no recording, no music – nothing but ringing.  I couldn’t believe it!  I finally reached an office that answered and four appointments later my unlucky foot is feeling much better.

I don’t think I am being unreasonable or pretentious to feel that my four copays, plus whatever they billed my insurance for the visits, ultrasound, and cortisone shots would have covered the cost of another employee to answer the phone; or better yet, an answering service.  I realize that these are tight times but these offices are stepping over dollars to pick up dimes.

So who is to blame and what do we do?  Simply put, this is collectively our fault.  Every time we have settled for apathetic service we have condoned and allowed it to propagate.  Here are some solutions:  Consumers, we need to stop settling for less and start supporting the office that values its patients.  Office Managers, evaluate your level of service.  Consider your office’s hold times and abandon numbers.  Those abandons are lost patients, lost consultations, and lost revenue.  Find ways to streamline your processes so calls are less lengthy and your staff more efficient.  Lastly, if you need help, get it.  An answering service is a great solution; just ask our offices’ patients.

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Tom S -

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