Service of Who Cares About the Customer?

December 10th, 2020

Categories: Customer Care, Customer Service, Hospitals, Pandemic, Stress, Support Group, Unemployment

What happened to “the customer is always right?” Here are three examples that illustrate the opposite. One is of a chronic nature; the other two are impacted by or are a result of the pandemic. There are simple solutions to all three.

Rethinking Hospital Tradition

There may be a million good reasons for it but patients suffer because of a tradition by hospitals, in these parts, to notify a patient the day before an operation–sometimes late in the day–about the timing of the procedure and when to show up. Some patients need to arrange for a friend or relative to pick them up if they are an outpatient. Not knowing the time until the last minute ties up the friend’s schedule and adds needless anxiety for the patient.

There must be a way to program operations a few days ahead of time.


I’ve quoted this former boss before. He’d say, “How come you don’t have time to do it right the first time but you have time to do it again?”

A friend has spent hours getting through to unemployment on the phone, waiting on hold for as long as 90 minutes once she succeeds only to have the employee say they’ve solved the problem when they haven’t. This has gone on week after week and the latest glitch is always something simple to fix such as checking a box. The result: Still no money.

With the crush of people needing help due to the furloughs and layoffs resulting from the pandemic, there must be a way to simplify the procedure and to decrease the number of errors that add to the lineup of phone calls.

Weighty Decision

A friend continues to pay full fee to Weight Watchers for the virtual meeting she now attends with a group in which she’s participated for eight + years. The studios are closed due to the pandemic. She is comfortable with the participants/support group she knows and the time for the weekly Zoom appointment fits her schedule.

The company notified the team leader it was cancelling the meeting at her time because they considered 15 to 20 participants too few and offered her other inconvenient times–with strangers. She says she will miss the collegiality of the group–essential for a program like this.

You would think that a big business could operate with a bit more heart during the pandemic, especially since clients are paying full freight while not attending in person meetings.

Why must patients be notified of the time of their operations at the last minute? How come the directors of unemployment haven’t simplified the application process to cut down mistakes relieving the clog in the system? Should a corporation like Weight Watchers, with a mission that involves support, be flexible in its bean counting during an especially stressful time for its clients?

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6 Responses to “Service of Who Cares About the Customer?”

  1. JBS Said:

    In the Twin Cities operations are scheduled days before (many weeks before). You are told when to arrive and when to have your dinner (I assume it’s a morning operation.) I’ve received all the information well in advance of the surgery.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Wow JBS,

    So keeping us hanging about the time of surgery is a NYC thing. Amazing.

  3. Kathleen Said:

    Ironically, we got the call of a friend just last week who was scheduled for a knee replacement and was called by the hospital to cancel that evening at 8 pm to postpone the surgery from the next morning because of an influx of COVID-19 at the hospital. This was absolutely true because later at church there was a special prayer for the numbers of COVID-19 that had been advanced to the hospital. Certainly, it was difficult for our friend who had to be rescheduled for the surgery, but we all understood the reason. We hope that hospitals change of plans on short notice will only be because of emergencies.

  4. BC Said:

    The O. R. has to answer to many types of surgeons. Elective surgeries often get bumped because of emergencies- acute appendicitis, trauma cases, etc. Now with staff being so busy with large numbers of COVID patients, most staff are on deck for them. Elective surgeries, biopsies for cancer patients , are made to wait. Staff get the virus, making the hospital more short of workers, who are risking their lives in the first place.

    Scheduling in the O.R. has been difficult for decades. Friends have gotten hip replacements at 10 pm at nite- only time the orthopedic surgeon could get. This was before the COVID. Some of this has been helped by free standing ambulatory units built by physicians

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I don’t criticize last minute cancellations due to Covid-19. However, the last minute nature of scheduleing during normal times, in addition to specialist surgeries that don’t see a Covid patient, is what irks.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I guess. I remember my husband having surgery on a very early Sunday morning because it was the only time the surgeon had access to robotic equipment. We were alone in the pre-op area in a major NYC hospital. It was spooky and unusual.

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