Customer Service Fail!! Customer Service Lessons are Everywhere!! – Part III

Sadly today, I experienced another serious Customer Service Fail.

Well not just one, but rather two. Two serious customer service fails in the same day. Help me!! What is the world coming to?

I really believe in both instances, that the cause of the poor customer service was easily reversible.

However, in both instances, serious reputation damage has been done.

Systems. Systems failed. Systems were either non-existent, or were not followed.

And probably without the business owner, or manager being aware of this breakdown.

And there in lies the problem, or definitely, a major cause, of the problem. Sadly, when there is a system breakdown, these breakdowns can be easily remedied if there is supervision in place…

Being Customer Service Focused myself, I view the world through Customer Service Eyes. And most days I survive, I get by easily. But today was different, very different….

I had a specialist orthopaedic appointment about my right shoulder this morning at 10:00am. After an examination and consultation with the doctor, he brought me back to the front reception area. The receptionist who had greeted me before seeing the doctor was not there, but another woman was present, doing battle with a printer machine there.

The doctor asked her to book my surgery in three weeks time, as well as a consultation with him to review an MRI next week with him. This woman wrote these instructions on her hand and then told them to the receptionist, who had just appeared carrying a tray of four purchased coffees which she was intent on distributing. The receptionist’s instructions to me were to have a seat, and that the woman who was battling with the printer would see me shortly, in her office, to organise my appointments.

Fifty minutes later and I’m still waiting. During this time, there is a procession of patients being called by the doctor, as well as a handful seeing the “printer woman”, who I later find out, is a registered nurse.

Anyway, after fifty minutes, the printer woman emerges from somewhere to behind the front counter to ask the coffee receptionist what happened to Mr. Moffet as he had left without making his appointments?

At this point I rose and spoke up, that I was still here, fifty minutes waiting!! With some degree of flabbergastation [is that a real word?], I was ushered into the printer woman’s office with a very weak apology, if that, almost blaming the coffee receptionist.

I told the printer woman that her scenario was not correct, and leveled blame on her with both barrels. I told the printer woman that I had seen the doctor give her the instructions, and that I was expecting her to have acted upon them.  She seemed to want to transfer blame to the coffee receptionist, seeing that once she had given the instructions to the coffee receptionist, then she implied that it wasn’t her responsibility any more.

I told the printer woman that she had been too busy with the printer and had failed to serve me the customer. I was also concerned that my parking meter had expired outside some forty-five minutes prior, and was concerned I would have a ticket. “Can I bring you the ticket if I have one?”

“Oh just give it to Nikki!”  [the coffee receptionist]….

My appointments were made, and I left their office.

I had a lunch appointment meeting with my wife an hour’s drive away, and the fifty minutes stolen from my day had upset me.

Now the thing about this specialist’s office was this. I’d previously seen this doctor in 2005 and 2011. In 2011 he’d told me I needed an operation, and any alternative treatment, such as cortisone, or physio, would not improve my condition, as surgery was my only option.

This morning, I had walked in to see him, saying, “I’m back” and “book me in”. Now maybe he tainted me, as his examination showed to him that the deterioration of my shoulder since 2013 was not so significant. He explained to me that surgery might not give me more mobility, or the mobility that I had lost. He explained to me that he preferred to operate on people in more pain than me, because he could bring them down to the pain level that I was tolerating. But my pain level was not so severe. Maybe my pain threshold was higher?

So maybe I was tainted….

My own doctor, had referred me also to another specialist for a second opinion, who I saw four weeks ago, prior to a holiday I just had. Nice friendly specialist. Had explained to me I needed a joint replacement. This second specialist knew I was seeing him for a second opinion.

After leaving the rooms from today’s specialist, I rang the second specialist’s rooms to talk to the doctor, as I had confusion now with two opinions.

I have made arrangements to talk on the phone tomorrow. The service from the second specialist’s receptionist has been professional and friendly and courteous. And did I say professional?

So what’s my hang up with the printer woman and the coffee receptionist?

They lost me. They physically lost me within their office. In a large *waiting room* of probably twenty seats and possibly ten people, [mostly elderly patients with an accompanying person], they forgot I was there. Too busy with their printer and their run to the coffee house to ensure that the customer was served.

Fifty minutes is a long wait. A long wait indeed for a two-minute process to make a couple of appointments.

But we’ve all been guilty of this. Getting distracted by our own small world that we forget about the customer and satisfying them…. yes, we’ve all done it!

Well let me tell you. There are plenty of specialist orthopaedic surgeons around, just like there are plenty of dental offices and plenty of restaurants. There is plenty of everything!

What there is not, is an endless supply of customers. Customers are gold! They need to be valued.

The printer could have waited. The coffees? Who know what went on there?

Certainly for me, visiting this specialist’s office was not a *WOW* experience!

“Make me feel important”, as Mary Kay Ash said? Did not happen for me today!!

At this specialist’s office, the minutiae got into the way of the systems. The systems that need to be rock solid for creating an Ultimate Patient Experience.

Hopefully they’ll learn from this, the way they let their customer down. Maybe they don’t care? From the way they failed with their Service Recovery, I don’t think they will learn. Or do care?

How sad is that thought?

P.S. I’ll discuss my other Customer Service Fail of this day, next week…until then…


The correct use of systems is just one of the  many straight forward and easy to implement  protocols and procedures that make up The Ultimate Patient Experience, a simple to build system in itself that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb.  If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

Email me at

Did you like this blog article? If you did then hit the share buttons below and share it with your friends and colleagues. Share it via email, Facebook and twitter!!