Walking out to the supermarket with a bag in each hand, I felt “pain” as I took a step. It was like a snap in my foot and PAIN, like a pinch – ouch! I got to the car and drove home. My foot was swollen and it hurt–especially if I put any weight on it. As soon as I put the groceries away, I called and got an appointment with the Physician’s Assistant at my doctor’s office.
(A little bit about my doctor – looking at the photo collages on her office walls, you could have cut her face out and put mine in. We had lived such similar lives – I could have matched her photo for photo. We were close in age, both first born, and I felt very connected with her. She was a good listener – I thought…)
Back to the pain in my foot – the PA walks into the exam room, takes a look at my foot and says, “What happened? This looks like edema.” I told her I was walking and something happened in my foot – something broke, snapped, pinched, and it really hurts; I can’t walk on it.
“Well, you’ve got some edema going on,” she replied. “Which could be because when you turned your foot it aggravated something.”
“But I didn’t turn my foot. I just took a normal step and something happened,” I explained. “I felt it, and then the pain.”
She sent me next door for an X-ray and gave me a prescription for pain. Back to the doctor’s office – the X-ray didn’t show a break. The PA calls in my doctor to have a look.
“Yes, looks like edema, could be something vascular going on, I’m going to recommend a vascular specialist.”
“But doctor,” I tried to explain. “Something happened in my foot when I was walking, something snapped, broke, pinched – I felt it.”
“The X-ray doesn’t show a break; let’s get you to the vascular surgeon,” she concluded.
At this point I had been walking/limping on this foot for about 8 days. I couldn’t do it any longer. I arrive at the vascular surgeon’s office and prop my foot up on a chair. The surgeon walks in looking at my chart – not my foot – and says, “Why are you here Barbara?”
Once again I tell her what happened to my foot and that my doctor and her Physician’s Assistant don’t seem to think so. She said, “You’re right, something did happen in your foot. There is an excellent podiatrist across the street. I’m going to call him right now and send you over. I’m sorry you have been so misdirected.”
A quick X-ray, taken while I was standing up (which is how it should have been ordered the first time), showed a stress fracture. It took less than 12 minutes from start to finish having the diagnosis and the black boot strapped on. Then the pain was gone.
Being a very loyal consumer, it is hard for me to make a change, especially when I think there is a strong connection. But I did make a change to a new doctor.
What could these health care professionals have done differently to keep me loyal?
- Listen to me. Hear what I’m telling you. (Something happened in my foot when I took a step.)
- Acknowledge what I’ve told you. Respond as if I know what I’m talking about. (I can’t walk on my foot, and it’s swollen.)
- Care about me. Let me walk out feeling like I came to the right place and got the right answer.
- Take some action to relieve the problem.
- Follow up.
These simple things can apply to anyone serving others in any industry. Are you leading a team of people who serve others? Are they creating loyalty? Listening. Acknowledging, Caring, Taking Action, and Following-up are a great way to begin evaluating and building a process that keeps people coming back.
About the author:
Barbara Notre is Director of Corporate Communications and Initiatives for The Ken Blanchard Companies. You can read Barbara’s posts as a part of our customer service series which appears twice a month here on LeaderChat.