Great Customer Service During Emergency Medical Visits Really Can Make Your Practice Outstanding

Written by on February 28, 2014 in Insight - No comments

Health Care Professional Experiences First Hand Fantastic Service During Her Out-of-Town Dilemma

After a great flight and taxi ride to the hotel, I was anxious to put the finishing touches for my presentation for a health care conference the following day.   I found a nice quiet spot to review my notes and get into my “zone” as I call it.

All done.  I felt ready to present the program the next day and looking forward to meeting new friends.  My topic was to address experiences that were most important in the world of customer service in a health care setting.

Entering the “sleepy zone” I had begun to prepare for bedtime.  All of a sudden while brushing my teeth, “was that popcorn?” I thought…..but I haven’t had any popcorn!  Please, oh please, tell me it isn’t what I think.  I was so afraid to even look in the mirror that I showered first….shedding tears behind the curtain.

Once out of the shower, I finally found enough courage to look in the mirror.  Then I had to find the courage to turn the light on and look in the mirror again.  It was just as I had thought… tooth!  My front tooth had broken off!   How could this happen?  I’m out of town, speaking at a health care conference the following day and I was thinking, “why couldn’t this be a dental conference?”

I use lots of humor while getting some serious points across so I could see me going up to the podium with a missing front tooth, they would NEVER forget that entrance.  Some people go to great lengths to make a great first impression and I am one of those.  That would top them all.

I cried myself to sleep, not knowing where to turn.  I awakened hours before the sun and as soon as I could, I was making calls.  I called the concierge and they gave me several dentist names to try.  There is definitely job security in answering services and these had not been trained in compassion, customer service or care, they didn’t even listen to my story.

Finally with the 11th number I dialed I reached a person, a real person answering the phone.  She listened and could detect the fear and anxiousness in my voice.   She didn’t rush me, she was quietly taking it all in.   After hearing my story, she responded,  “I am just so sorry this has happened to you.  I can imagine that you would be a little afraid, being out of town and knowing no one.”  I said, “Mam, you are correct about everything except for one thing….I am not a little afraid…..I am AFRAID BIGTIME!”   She asked if I could hold on just for a moment, she wanted to check with the dentist.

She quickly returned to the phone to tell me that he would see me as soon as I could get there.  Knowing I was expected at the conference at 1:00, I was upset, I needed to hurry, I could not stand the thought of someone riding in the car with me, the “snaggletooth speaker.”  My personality is such that I speak to and smile at everyone.  That day, I smiled with my lips closed.   I decided to call for a limo, not wanting to take a chance on others riding along.  I didn’t want to have to explain.  (Now just who do you know that takes a limo to the dentist?)

A very nice limo driver arrived in a sparkling clean black limo, I felt as though I was headed to the morgue.   I did smile and talk to him, explaining what had happened just so he would know we were headed to the dentist vs. the funeral home.  Arriving in the parking lot, sight unseen and only going by the exceptional customer service given by the “girl at the front desk” we were finally there.  There were beautiful urns and flowers by the doorway, a very nice lobby and I was greeted by a wonderful smile from the “girl at the front desk.”

She was very aware of my embarrassment, so as soon as I had completed the necessary paperwork, she brought me around to another room.

I didn’t want to open my mouth, I was just so humiliated and embarrassed but when the dentist arrived, I knew I was in the right place.  He was kind, very patient with me, told me exactly what he could do and said he would get me “up and running my mouth in no time” he said and he did just that.

As I was leaving, I was no longer embarrassed to talk to everyone and you will never believe what I learned.  The “girl at the front desk” was the dentist’s wife.  They were CLOSED that day, but a patient of theirs had a problem and they had opened the office just for that patient, meeting them there early.  I had called while the dentist was seeing that patient.  She explained the situation and asked him if he would see me.   They had a meeting with their builder at their house but they even called to see if he could meet them at their office.

This story is a great reminder of just how important it is to always treat people the right way.  The way that you would hope to be treated if and when you or your family member is out of town and in need of assistance.  Kindness cost nothing and it is very contagious.  And as a health care presenter this experience had taught me first hand that the best way to teach customer service is to experience it and to live it daily.

Their kindness, compassion and willingness to see me, along with his workmanship will always be remembered.  The tooth is still intact and I’m “up and running my mouth every day!”

By Denise Price Thomas

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