Respecting your customer’s time

I had occasion to visit my doctor’s practice yesterday for a routine blood test.  They’re in a shiny new medical centre, closer to my house, and a far cry from their previous dingy illness-inducing premises.

They do everyone’s bloods between 9:30 and 10am, but you still have to book in beforehand.  I turned up, bright eyed and bushy tailed, at 9:28.  I was still there after 10am.

The lack of respect for people’s time in the GP industry is the heart of the problem.   We’re busy people too and our time is also money.  I dread to think what the national cost is of delaying the productivity of thousands of people a day.  Appointments routinely over-run, and the industry is content to let it happen because no-one else is sticking their neck out to try and make a difference, and because they have us patients over a barrel.  Switching your doctor is time-consuming, and you’re generally in there because you need treatment, now.

I once cancelled an appointment with a specialist shoulder consultant because he kept me waiting over 40 minutes for a €150 appointment.  The office never called me back to reschedule.  They obviously don’t need the money or care about the patient experience.

I’m not talking about A&E or ER and hospitals here.  In my experience they are well oiled and much more finely tuned machines.

It’s pretty straightforward really.  Make longer appointment times and sacrifice a little revenue for happy, satisfied, repeat customers, and more of them.  That way you can also schedule in emergency visits without ruining the day of everyone else who comes after.  Even more straightforward, would it hurt to provide free wi-fi so that in the event of a delay you can either get work done or pass the time?

The easy, small things can make all the difference.