Lack of Customer Service can kill you

As a consumer I have been overwhelmed with the lack of customer service in today’s world.   One incident I can overlook and with a busy schedule who has time to follow through and complain about the lack of service we get?  My recent experiences have taken on new meaning when it came to care my father received after a stroke or rather the lack of service and follow through with doctor specifications!One incident with a cashier can be just someone having a bad day, but when lack of attention to details involves the health and possibly the life of a loved one, Customer Service takes on a whole new meaning. 

How difficult is it for a cashier at Home Depot to provide assurance that your scheduled appointment actually is confirmed in their system?  One phone call, versus “I don’t know you have to go back to the flooring department to confirm it.”  After prodding for another solution she finally made the call and confirmed my appointment, without a thank you or “sorry for the inconvenience”. 

AT&T has the worse track record for me!  I eliminated our home phone over a year ago because they couldn’t get the static off the line after 3 calls to them.  When I called to remove the phone line, they did so very quickly then asked if I wanted another one connected.  They just didn’t get it!  In July my contract for my office phone needed renewed with AT&T which I did.  When my August bill arrived I was billed at much higher rates than my contracted rate, another call to them and they assured me it was handled.  3 months later and as many phone calls, that problem is finally resolved.  Two weeks ago I couldn’t get into my voice mail; with another call to AT&T I learned they changed the VM system requiring me to setup a new account.  Gee, I thought someone would have notified me of a change but I never got anything. 

I purchased Microsoft Office 2010 last week and upgraded my computer.  After 2 hours of upgrading I got an error that a file was missing and while trying to reconfigure my system to its original state there was another file missing.  This basically meant I had lost email capabilities but everything else worked.  It took me 4 hours of frustration when I resolved to contacted my Microsoft Certified computer company for assistance.  They learned that MS states you can upgrade from MS Office 2003 to 2010, but you can’t.  You first have to upgrade to 2007, and then go to 2010.  Gee, would have been nice for MS to put that on their packaging vs. stating it is compatible to upgrade from 2003.  I haven’t received the bill for my computer company’s assistance, but I’m sure it will be more than the $297.00 for the MS upgrade.

All of these incidents are minor compared to the lack of Customer Service and attention to detail I witnessed in the hospital!  My father had two strokes in the past 6 weeks and has been life flighted to a hospital in Pittsburgh just as many times.  The first hospital experience seemed to be very good, attentive doctors and lots of testing.  But I wasn’t at the hospital following up with the doctors or asking all the questions that I had, instead I was consumed with preparing my parents new home so there would be one less thing for him to be concerned about.  I could write more on the lack of Customer Service I experienced during that two week period but the lack of health care if more important. 

When the 2nd stroke occurred August 18th I became more vigilant and talked to the doctors.  I felt comfortable they were doing everything they could for his health and continued quality of life.  They answered the questions I could think about at that stressful time.  He had been on Heparin while in the hospital to thin the blood.  When he left the hospital he started bleeding, requiring my mother to take him back to his room and they stopped the bleeding.  What?  They sent him home with prescriptions of Lovenox (shots in the belly 2 times a day for 5 days) and Coumadin to get the levels of blood thinners where they needed to be in hopes of preventing another stroke.

When I got back to their home and started reading the doctors’ orders I was in shock.  My dad was supposed to have a heart monitor on before leaving the hospital!  What the heck??  Who was supposed to ensure the monitor was with him?

A home care nurse came to the house the following day to draw blood, send it to the lab to check his Coumadin level and the doctor was to call later that day.  2 days later and still no call, the nurse was back to draw more blood.  When they didn’t call that day, my mother contacted the nurse who looked into the problem and found the hospital where the blood sample had been sent didn’t do the lab work because his medical insurance wouldn’t pay for it. 

The lack of care from the hospital to the home has been more than a little stressful and it appears no one really cares about the patient except the family.  It’s difficult to manage dad’s care from Ohio but that’s just what I plan to do, even if it requires trips to Pennsylvania and attend the doctors’ appointments to ensure he’s getting the support he needs. 

Is it just me or has Customer Service become a thing of the past? 

I’m still trying to figure out what to do with the hospital situation to raise the awareness of lack of details.  If you have any ideas I’d love to hear them.

As for Home Depot, I filled out the customer survey on-line to provide feedback on the lack of courteous and service.  Microsoft, I’ve filed an on-line complaint to the only place I could find on their website and one with Ohio Attorney General.  AT&T is next on my list and I’ll file a complaint with the Utilities Commission.

How is the Customer Service in your business?  If you’re not hearing anything, don’t take that as a good thing… people are very busy today and many don’t take the time to complain or demand better service. 

Be vigilant in the health care of your loved ones, their life many depend on it!  And if you experience poor service, SPEAK up and tell someone!  If you experience excellent service, tell them!


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10 Responses to “Lack of Customer Service can kill you”

  1. Deirdre Says:

    Regarding the hospital issues… Having been through major illnesses of both my mother and father, I have definitely found that the patient needs a full-time advocate (in their room while at the hospital), and overseeing virtually every aspect of home care… It’s the unfortunate truth…

    And, the overnight shift is the worst, I think… (these are in general, the least experienced, MOST tired (apt to make mistakes) staff…)

    I recommend making a one-to-one, face-to-face appointment with the Chief Operating Officer of the hospital… AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, and also potentially, the Head of Nursing… as, the halter monitor thing should have been caught by the discharging nurse, I would think… OR, perhaps they have a DISCHARGE PLANNING department, who should have overseen all aspects of the patients smooth discharge to home, and the setup of followup home care…

    Personally, I have marched myself right down to WHOEVER is the highest person at the hospital and told them in no uncertain terms that I expect that my mother will be taken care of AS IF SHE WERE THEIR OWN MOTHER. That kinda puts things in perspective.

    In general, the higher ups do want to hear of what the staff is doing, and have been accomodating. At the very least, it puts a ‘red flag’ on your dad, and they are apt to be more attentive…

    Similar to when a parent is in a nursing home… where frankly, the ones who get the best care are the ones whose family members have a habit of dropping in unanounced, etc… (Again, the short staff issue comes into play here)…

    The unfortunate situation is that there is SUCH a shortage of health care workers, that (in general), the good ones are sooooo overworked (that details get missed)… OR, the ones that are not-so-good, sometimes are apathetic… it’s sad…

  2. Lisa Says:

    You have really hit the nail on the big old head with this newsletter. I know exactly what you are talking about with the need for patient advocacy. There was more than one time that my father would have bled to death if I had not been his caregiver and right by his side at each doctor appointment and every hospital stay. He was so afraid he was going to die if I wasn’t there that I even curled up on the cold tile under his hospital bed to sleep one night because there was not visitor chair in his room for me to rest in between all of the chaos.

    When I was in the hospital for my hysterectomy I called for the aid the morning after my surgery so I could get up and go to the bathroom (don’t get up unless someone is with you was the rule). So when I asked the aid to lift my legs for me so I could get back in bed, she swung them up like I was a sack of potatoes and it felt like every stitch burst in my belly. How painful that was for me! Ouch! I cried and cried from the pain and she was probably 17yrs old and didn’t think or know any better (I thought they received training for this). She apologized but it didn’t change the fact that I had been subjected to someone with a lack of interest in what I needed for my care. I was weak from blood loss and still fresh from a major surgery. It could have been handled differently.

    I’m sorry you are also having a similar experience with the medical profession and don’t even get me started on the fact that the insurance carriers rule the medical profession. My prayers are with you and your family at this time.

  3. Valerie Says:

    My sister & I had a close problem to yours in the health care arena. Dad passed 16 years ago but at the time, he & our step-mom lived in FLA. The older the patient the less likely to have attention given to them basically due to their age & because of that, they are a “non-productive” part of society therefore just medicate them & move on to the “productive” population. Harsh statement but I assure you very true. Also ( & I did work in the emergency room for 2 years & left) concerning insurance, unfortunately one has to be very annoyingly persistent & nagging everyday to get any accomplishments for reimbursements, otherwise the medical community will put that patient into collections. How degrading for a generation of people whom had given their all so that they could be at least taken care of later in life! I can elaborate more but it just produces very negative emotions & I have to let those go.

    Our advice to you is what we did, even though the results weren’t huge but at least it made it official, is to forward EVERYTHING from the issues with your Dad, phone, Microsoft, etc. to the State Attorney General of PA & send it with a confirmation requiring a signature to prove that someone did accept the material that you sent & then start every week by calling the AG’s office & just being a pest in general. They will get tired of you & maybe finally help you, which in turn, one can hope will help others as well.

    Seems kind of unnecessary to do this & frustrating but it eventually does work.

    Wished I had a better way but it can’t hurt to try. Will keep you & yours in pray, after all when it all boils down to it, HE is the ultimate successor for us all.

  4. Jean Says:

    Thanks for the info. We have been going through just about the same things over here. Just goes to show you have to stay right after these people or get screwed.

  5. Cheryl Says:

    It’s an awful shame but, ditto, ditto and ditto! When my mother was sick with cancer, 7 years ago, we quickly found out that we needed to be her advocate and for 14 months until she passed away we had someone with her 24/7 when she was in the hospital and someone always went with her to dr. apts. If it weren’t for a sister keeping watch on one particular night shift she would have died from an overdose. Instead of 1 mg they gave her 10mg, 10X the amount. My sister happened to notice her respirations had dropped down around 4 – 5 per minute, notified the nurse who immediately got a respiratory therapist who gave her something to counteract the drug.

    The one time we did leave her alone they gave her too many pain meds, after we had warned them of her sensitivity, making her loopy, out of it and acting belligerent. I got a call from them saying she was acting very strange and needed to be restrained because of her behavior. I told them don’t even think about it and that I was on my way! Duh, did it occur to them that it was the meds if her personality had changed so dramatically? Obviously not. Fortunately, I did not get a ticket on the way to the hospital and was able to control my anger so as to not need to be restrained myself during my conversation with them.

    The most surprising revelation of all was that there are “internal ambulance chasers” in the hospital. Mom was scheduled for some very delicate, special test. Someone came in to the room, I signed the consent form for her and away she went. Apparently it was a different department than who was supposed to do the test because later in the day the dr. came and asked me why I signed off for them to do the procedure as if it was my fault. I had no idea who was supposed to do it. I asked him how the other department even found out about it and why did they come get her and do it. He was very upset and said he would look into it. I was shocked!

    A couple months ago I was having heart problems and needed to have a monitor put on. After I made several calls it still took almost 2 weeks to even get an appointment scheduled. After wiping my skin with alcohol and rubbing with sandpaper to insure a good connection (oh, my skin was clean alright, several spots became scabbed over as if I’d fallen off a bicycle!) and being hooked up to 6 or 8 wires I was the one who realized that they had put on the wrong monitor!!!

    The medical people are always asking questions, your name, dr. name, birth date, etc. to make sure they have the right patient. I now ask them questions as well – what meds are you giving me, what’s the dosage, what test is this and what is it for, etc. I’ve gotten some strange looks but I don’t really care.

    Yes, there is a problem but I don’t have any idea what the solution is. The one thing I do try to do all the time is to model appropriate behavior like kindness, courtesy, respect and consideration. I’m amazed at the number of positive responses I get back. As if they are shocked that someone would act like that. One small thing but maybe it will help.

  6. Don Says:

    Sue, Caring for parents can be traumatic…

    I know. I cared for both my Father and Mother before they passed on.
    I want to say a prayer for you…

    “God, You who love us more than we can understand, I pray in the blessed name of your beloved Son, the Christ Jesus, for Sue… and for her parents… for You thru your Holy Spirit to bless, comfort, console, counsel, and strengthen Sue… to provide for her needs for You know our needs better than we do… and enable her to provide for her parents, for herself, and for her business. I ask for your favor and for your peace to rest on Sue and on her parents more than your favor and your peace ever has… thru your grace to your glory. As Mary said in Luke 1:38, let it be unto Sue and her parents in accordance with your Word… for You are not a person that you will lie. Thank You.”

    Sue, I have attended the Charis Bible College in Colorado Springs, CO for the past two years. It is a non-denominational and non-doctrinal bible college. It just teaches the Word as written… particularly the New Testament. I have seen so many signs, wonders, and miracles I don’t know where to start. My sister recently came to visit me for the 1st time… and was healed of nose bleeds and Crohns disease! A colonoscopy confirmed it!!!

  7. Gila Says:

    What you have written is so important.

    Thanks for the awareness because I think this is a universal issue of how materialistic and inhumane the world has become where the lack of care and value to people has dissapeared. I have had such incidents as well and felt that at those times I have been living among robots or aliens from a different planet where emotions are absent.

    Nevertheless I have also witnessed the opposite too and have gained hope that there are some people like me. My wish for you is for the universe to give you opposite experiences from this day onwards. And yes Curtomer services and relations is such an important part organisation need to focus on because of the impact they create.

    As coaches, consultants and trainers we have a huge job to do.

  8. Sharon Says:

    I do have an answer to offer with regard to your father’s healthcare, but it probably won’t be something you want to hear. First, let me say how truly sorry I am to hear about the physical suffering your father is going through, and the emotional stress it is causing you. I have an elderly parent, and cared for another who has passed, so I can empathize to a certain extent. We do end up feeling so very responsible for our parents as they age, and, inevitably, so very frustrated and inadequate. Unfortunately, as the world gets more and more chaotic, which it will, because we are going through an energetic shift on the planet, life will continue to become more and more stressful, if we engage in the world the way we are used to engaging in the world. The shift in energy requires a shift in consciousness. The chaos is only increasing on the lower levels of manifestation. We are actually moving to an age of greater harmony, but everything that is not of the new consciousness is being forced to the surface to be released. The only thing that you can do with the things in your outer world that are causing you more and more stress is to let go of them and go within. As for your father, the best you can do for him is to send him your love, and surround him with your prayers. I’m not touting religion, because I am not a religious person, but we must reinforce our spiritual practices of breathing, grounding, and maintaining our center. Whatever your father is going through on the physical plane does not affect his essence, which is pure light. Don’t focus on the things that are going wrong or might go wrong. In the most practical sense, these things are a product of our imagination. They are not real. The more you spend your time fretting and trying to control other people’s behavior, the more energy you give to the chaos. Bless his caregivers. Believe in miracles. Know that, even if you can’t see the miracle, it is still there. Your father is a divine child of God, and the entire company of heaven watches over and protects him. Feel it in your heart. Be centered in your heart.

    I know this is much easier for me to say than it is for you to do. I can only imagine how I would feel if I were faced with the same situation with my own parent. I offer this advice in the spirit of support and sisterhood. I have so much respect for the work you do, and the positive impact you have on those of us who are blessed with knowing you, and receiving your words of inspiration. I have one more thing to add.

    The Hopi elders have given advice that is more powerful and more eloquent than anything I could say, so I’m sending a link to it.

  9. Vicki Says:

    I will give you feedback on my experiences, both with customer service and with Daddy’s care when he had his aneurysm. First, when Daddy had his aneurysm I was living in Baltimore so I was geographically closest of any of their children. I was in Pittsburgh when he had the surgery and for a few days thereafter (it was left to me to tell Grandma that he probably would never be able to take her to the store again) and then I went back every other weekend while he was in Harmerville Rehab. Because things were SO incredibly bad, I made several trips during the week in order to, along with Mum, meet with doctors, ask questions, understand what they were saying and what the prognosis was. In my opinion, there are no choices because there are very few doctors that truly care, particularly when dealing with the elderly. Often the attitude you encounter is essentially, “they’re old, they’re going to die anyway”. You have to really research the problem for yourself so you know what to ask. I have to say that the care Bill received here while being treated for lung cancer and then in intensive care for 10 days before he died far exceeded what Daddy received. Of course, he had been seeing that doctor for nearly 6 months so the doctor was a little more “invested” than the doctor who had never seen you till you were carried into the hospital. Conversely though, the oncologist I was most impressed with was from Kenya and was covering for Bill’s regular doctor who was on vacation when Bill went into crisis…he was truly the most caring doctor I have met. But they all seem to expect you to know about the condition and to ask the right questions. I think doctors, like mechanics, just lose sight of the fact that the rest of us hire them because we DON’T know and need them to explain things to us. I cannot tell you how many hours I have spent sitting in hospital rooms and doctor’s offices with Daddy, Bill and then Mum, trying to understand, trying to know what to ask, trying not to slug the ones who are condescending and abrupt or the ones with a God complex, trying to know what is the right course of action and especially trying not to step on toes, trying not to upset the parent who is already upset and desperately wants to believe the best case scenario even if it’s not realistic. All I can say is good luck, do your best and I am thinking about you all and praying for you.

    Customer Service…a pet peeve of mine and mainly lacking in this society of “me, me me…I come first”, “don’t bother me”, “WHAT…you expect ME to help YOU?” Customer Service seems nearly none existent, especially since so much of the telephone tech support has been outsourced to Sri Lanka or Delhi or some other God forsaken place. I have cancelled service contracts and filed complaints due to poor or nonexistent customer service because there is nothing more frustrating than to have bought something or to be paying for a service and not be able to use it because no one can be bothered to help you, tell what to do with it, or how to change/repair/return it. Land’s End is one company that gives amazing customer service and I give them accolades. On a more local level, in this relatively small city (about 100,000), Burns Commercial Properties is a well-respected, well-known company and being the Operations Manager, my comments tend to carry a little clout. By now, everybody in this town knows, if I am doing business with a company and receive outstanding service, I let that person’s supervisor know how much I appreciate it; likewise, if I get terrible or a less than expected level of service, I let them know that too. Case in point, ironically, I had scheduled most of our employees into a seminar regarding Customer Service, something this company feels very strongly about (and yes, I have gotten very good feedback on ours and when we get negative comments we act on them)…some were attending in the morning, some in the afternoon and there was a luncheon session for those of us on the managerial level. The seminar was sponsored jointly by the Chamber of Commerce and Express Personnel. The seminar was REALLY good and very informative on every level but when we received the invoice for our attendance, it was incorrect. I asked one of my assistants to call the Chamber and request a corrected invoice; the person she spoke to at the Chamber was so amazingly rude and uncooperative (despite the fact that we have been a member of the Chamber for YEARS and Taylor Burns is extremely active) that I emailed both the president and the public relations coordinator at the Chamber complaining about this woman and suggested that she should have attended the seminar instead of sitting out in the hall (which I knew she had done). I also commended them on the seminar and told them how much we both enjoyed and benefited from it. The response from both was very positive; they each called me personally, the president from out-of-town, thanked me for letting them know about our experience and they took steps to make sure it would never happen again. I have done the same with the bank we use most frequently although that was pure positive since they give excellent service, as well as the employment agencies I use and others.

    All you can do is INSIST on good service or complain…ask to speak to a supervisor or manager…assure them you will file a complaint against them and, just as important, commend those who do give good service. Yes, it is a real inconvenience to have to go to the length of filing a complaint and I let them know that too and yes, in this busy, busy life it is easier to just let it go but if you do, you can be SURE that nothing will change. At least by taking the time complain, you can HOPE for change…although in the case of Sri Lanka, it is doubtful!

  10. Sue E. Thomas Says:

    This newsletter stirred a lot of responses. Each person provided permission to post them on the BLOG.

    I so appreciate all the heartfelt responses and prayers given.

    Dad is doing much better. His blood pressure and heart rate seem to be leveling. His primary care physicial has him on a regiment of vitamins which are helping. He has regained 10+% of his left pheripherial vision back, and they expect him to continue to improve. His doctor expects he’ll be driving again in 5 months.

    Again, many thanks for your continued blessings and prayers.

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