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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Trying One's Patience

I'm a huge proponent of client service and really try to get everyone on my team to go the extra mile in little ways to show our clients how much we appreciate them.  But there are limits to this.  And I hate to break it to anyone who has illusions, but your physicians and vets don't like every client they see.

I have a particular client whom we'll call Ms. Howlett (not her real name).  She can be a real trial to deal with in several ways.  She can be demanding of my time and insists on always seeing me.  She is reluctant to spend money and has legitimately limited funds, but also wants problems with her cats fixed.  She doesn't seem to understand relatively simple things I tell her and I have to repeat myself several times whenever I talk to her.  She gets copies of her medical notes and nit-picks every little thing I have in there and every slightly abnormal lab value.

One of her cats was diagnosed with diabetes last week and she came back in today for me to go over with her how to administer insulin.  That took many tries of demonstrating the injection, having her try it with some saline, and going over the instructions several times.  What should have taken me 10 minutes with an average person took me about three times that long.  Another of her cats has had chronic diarrhea and we're trying to work through a possibility of inflammatory bowel disease.  This has necessitated several rounds of testing and may including having to do intestinal biopsies.  But it has also involved lots of discussions on diet and other therapy, which of course leads to repeating information unnecessarily.

This afternoon she was at our hospital for over two and a half hours, in what for an average person would have been less than an hour, even waiting for lab tests.  At the end she wanted us to fax her insurance forms in, a total of 15 pages.  We were already about 10 minutes past closing, so we declined to do so, which upset her a bit and caused her to spend even more time trying to convince us to do this.  If it was just a page or two I wouldn't have minded, but this was her responsibility and I thought it was rude for her to insist on us doing it for her.

Now based on what I've put here there are probably many reading who wonder what the big deal is.  Those of you who do veterinary work can certainly identify your own Ms. Howletts and know exactly what I'm talking about.  We can't like everyone, and sometimes a certain personality rubs us the wrong way.  However, we still have to treat them with respect, and this really isn't a business for professionals with poor people skills.