Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Insights From My Allergist

Sneezing, congested, runny nose, itchy/watery eyes. Can't think. Can't breathe. Help!

My wife talked me into going to her allergist yesterday and WOW! what an experience.

Here's how it went:

- I sign in with a less than pleasant receptionist

- I start reading a rather out of date magazine (while grumbling to myself)

- A nurse calls my formal name and

- Amidst pleasant small talk, she escorts me to an examination room (this isn't so bad after all)

- I wait and read another out of date magazine (my grumbling resumes)

- There is a staccato knock at the door and an energetic, friendly bearded and bespectacled doctor bounds in the room

- Questions and answers fly (with quite a bit of laughter mixed in)

- Testing is explained and

- A nurse starts scratching my back with things to which I may be allergic (it's not so bad actually)

- The nurse leaves and I'm alone for 15 very itchy minutes without a shirt in a rather cool exam room (I pace back and forth telling myself not to scratch)

- The doctor and the nurse come back and say, "Whoa, looks like you're allergic to quite a few things" (I think to myself, "Brilliant deduction Sherlock.)

- The doctor explains the test results and

- We discuss his recommendations

- He writes prescriptions

- He smiles, we shake hands and he says goodbye (I'm rather excited about the possibility of breathing again)

- I wait in line to see the rather disinterested receptionist (How could such a great doctor have such a bad receptionist?)

- I pay my copay (no biggee)

- I leave to visit my friendly, neighborhood pharmacist. (Hope springs anew)

My reaction (no pun intended)? What a great allergist! but what a missed opportunity to surround himself with an environment and people who could create an equally great experience at each point in the process.

I've talked since with several friends who are patients of the same allergist and they all said that when they first walked in and came in contact with the allergist's receptionist they were very apprehensive about the entire practice. All of them also said that after meeting with the doctor himself they were very happy with his work. However, none of my friends have gone out of their way to recommend this particular allergist. I didn't even know they had gone to him until I asked if they had heard of him.

How much positive buzz could be created for this practice if they just took the time to think through the experience their patients have with them?

How about you? If you're a business owner or have a role in making decisions about how you do things at your company, have you taken a thorough look at your business through the eyes of your customers? If you have, pat yourself on the back because you're the exception. If you haven't, take the time to identify the areas that customers love, areas of disconnect, and areas that have no impact one way or the other. First fix the disconnects, then take a hard look at the ones that have no impact. Often this is where the real opportunities lie. Make sure though that you continue to look at how it all fits together. Remember, each piece affects the others.

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