It’s always a shock when service businesses do not understand the concept of customer relations. Although it shouldn’t be; we’ve had enough proof of it over the past 20 years.
So here’s what happened:
We left a big, corporate vet for a smaller, holistic one we got to know when our late Little He was getting canine acupuncture. We’ve been pleased with our visits there, and it turns out, we’ve been there a lot as Riley has undergone extensive diagnostics. On one of those visits, they did a procedure that involved putting a needle in his bladder to get urine for a test. Needless to say, it was stressful for him. So we were very surprised that they wanted to get a blood pressure reading on him directly after.
What wasn’t surprising is that they tried three times and got exceedingly high readings.
I thought it was unwise to take his BP after a stressful procedure and once I saw the $150 line item for that, I really thought it was unwise. Blood pressure would be an important diagnostic number for his kidney issues and no one felt we’d gotten a valid reading. Why did they even think we would after he’d been stressed out by a procedure?
When his vet (whom we like) called back with test results she mentioned that they wanted to do another BP. I told her my feelings about how that test went down and that I would be glad to bring him in but was not willing to pay another $150 because I’d thought it was a bad call to time a BP the way they did. I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal, that they would understand.
Like most modern vet offices, this one has a “business manager” and the staff vets can not make decisions like this. It’s the business manager’s decision. It was my first warning sign: I’d left big, corporate vet because of just such a bureaucracy (among other reasons).
A few days later our vet called to tell us the business manager’s decision. She hemmed and hawed and the message we got was that the business manager had grudgingly said we could bring Riley in as long as there weren’t anything like five to 11 tries, there was one try/one time and this was a one time offer. It was–a sour offer– and it hit me the wrong way. Five to 11 tries?? How did they come up with that number? When did a $150 procedure become such a big deal?
“I’m shocked,” I told our vet, “at this response. We have never balked a single time at the thousands of dollars we have spent at the clinic both for Little He and now the over $2K it’s pushing for Riley’s diagnostics. It would have been a small thing, but a gracious one for her to have said ‘absolutely, bring him in.” Our vet said she agreed with us and hadn’t wanted to deliver this message to us. I asked her to tell the business manager what we thought.
Half hour later, the business manager called. The upshot of the conversation was that she said she didn’t know WHO had “approved” the prior procedure with conditions but she wanted us to know we could bring Riley in without charge for another BP.
Wait a minute. Wasn’t she the original decision-maker? She didn’t say she wasn’t, she said “she didn’t know.” Someone was lying. I am pretty sure it wasn’t the vet. Then again, maybe it was. But I don’t think so.
She said we could bring him in at a time that he wasn’t stressed and that we needed to figure out what stressed him out that time.
I couldn’t help it.
“Maybe it was the huge needle he’d just had jammed into his bladder to take a sample?” I asked. She played dumb. Maybe she was, I don’t know. But, just like insurance companies that make medical decisions without a medical degree, was this business manager making a decision without understanding what had transpired? The whole reason I’d asked for another session was that I thought it was a bad decision to take a reading right after a stressful procedure. That much, I’d thought, was obvious.
I declined the appointment, since Ri was to see a specialist elsewhere who would want her own BP. But I have to tell you that it left a bad taste in my mouth and really colored my view of this clinic, a place I’d always seen as a kinder, gentler option.
It’s a dilemma, this vet care thing. I want the best for Riley and sometimes a sole practitioner isn’t the best choice. Sometimes you really have to go a bit bigger. And this is what you get. I just didn’t expect it from this holistic vet.
“Customer service has been declining for years,” my husband told me. “Remember full -service gas stations? Or professional clothiers at department stores who had been there for decades? Everything is more anonymous now, and meant to put distance between the customer and the provider.”
This is one of the great losses in our lifetimes–personal service that really cared about customers and their individual needs.
It would have cost that office $150 retail to have given us a BP appointment with the vet tech. Now, it has cost them so much more than that in our good will.
This is Riley at the specialist vet, where the entire consultation–including a review of his voluminous records, a full exam and a blood pressure cost us only $121. Total. Her take on his health is that he’s fine. There are some things we should watch but no reason to treat anything as he had a relatively normal exam for a middle-aged dog. He is eight years old. And he wasn’t anywhere near as nervous as he looks in this photo.
What’s your take on the cost of good will?