I’m a nice person, most of the time. But I recently had a disturbing experience that I need to discuss. It involved customer service, or should I say, a lack of customer service. As a result, I want this woman fired from the dental practice. Customer service is critical to a dental practice. If you provide lousy customer service, you might as well just close up shop right now and be done with it.
Here's what happened: At my dentist, I had a billing problem from my last visit, so I brought it to the attention of the billing department. Then something happened that made me want revenge. When I pointed out the problem, the staff person wouldn’t listen to me. I calmly told her what had been explained to me by the office, but it didn’t matter. My statements were falling on deaf ears. She couldn’t even look at me while I spoke to her. Instead she said, “I’m off the clock.” If you’re off the clock and trying to leave for the day, then don’t offer to help a patient! Ask someone else to step in. I get it. She wanted to go home. Trust me, by the time she was done with me, I wanted her to go home as well. Permanently!
But I just couldn’t take her rudeness. I literally stood there in shock. How does one adult treat another adult like a child? She talked as if I was 10 years old and didn’t know anything. Then her boss joined us. I thought, great, now we can get to the bottom of this. But the staff person started talking to her boss and acting like I wasn’t even there, and her boss never said anything.
I watched this woman escalate in front of me. She even said, “I’m starting to get mad.” I was thinking, “I’m already mad.” It didn’t matter. For all she cared, I was invisible. The boss didn’t do anything. He should have said, “Jane, go on home and I’ll take care of this.” But, nothing! I could tell he was afraid of her! When she finally made her exit, he didn’t say anything to me right away. I made a few lame jokes, and he said this has happened many times before. What kind of excuse is that? If this happens repeatedly and she’s driving away business, the boss needs to DO something!
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I told the boss that Jane’s behavior should be addressed. I’m not a vindictive person, but this episode really annoyed me. What’s wrong with people that they treat patients like this? Who do they think they are? They drive away business and are a poison that affects the entire office. But the bigger question is why is it tolerated? Jane’s behavior was abominable. She should be fired. But the boss not stepping in when he witnessed the poor behavior? That is inexcusable. The message he’s sending is that doing nothing endorses bad customer service.
I was horrified. It made me think about looking for a new dentist. Going to the dentist is stressful enough for many people. Patients should not lose faith that the office will keep their billing straight, or work out any problems that arise, or whether they know what they’re doing regarding your dental care. This is at the very core of the dentist/patient relationship.
What should have happened is the boss should have intervened immediately. He should have sent Jane out the door and attempted to address the problem with me. Doing nothing lost the practice a patient. And guess what? I doubt they’re even capable of realizing what they did to lose me. If you’re a supervisor/boss, act like one. That means protecting the business and protecting the patients. That means taking a stand and not allowing insulting behavior to happen. If you can’t do that as a boss, then maybe you shouldn’t be the boss.
Editor's note: Originally posted in 2015 and updated regularly