How Long Is The Wait?
In this modern day of technology and exhaustive efforts by AI (Artificial Intelligence) companies to leverage their customer service deliverables it appears the integration of said efforts isn’t working as intended. As we move through our days and experience the self - checkout lanes at many stores or the airline check in kiosks or the proliferation of internet based resources, it appears that the experience of interacting with a live, qualified person is more the exception than the rule. And herein lies "the wait"…..
Let me share a few recent personal experiences which begin with a call to my auto insurance carrier:
The service request I made via phone was fairly simple, however, I was moved to three separate insurance company representatives only for the third representative to request that my query be researched, and he would "call back in fifteen minutes". After two days, I’m still waiting for his return phone call. Their automation has not sped up their service, nor fine-tuned the art of following through on a commitment. (Old school stuff).
To best that story, I recently changed my primary care physician to a highly recommended local doctor. My first appointment was 4PM. After sitting in the patient lobby for 50 minutes I inquired about whether the doctor was still planning to hold his scheduled appointment. His receptionist shared a well too often coined phrase, "the doctor is running a little behind schedule". My time that I will never get back was 1 hour and 45 minutes that day. So, to thwart this delay and "best the system", I decided to make my follow-up appointment first thing in the morning when the office opens at 8AM. (I’m gonna get on the front end of this!) However, at 8:40 am I am STILL in the patient lobby. I inquired with the very tired receptionist, and was subject to the same phrase "the doctor is running a little behind schedule". Another hour and 15 minutes that day lost and a real wrench in my morning meeting schedule. There were no emergencies thwarting my scheduled office visits. Whatever the issue, it was systemic, and made me feel that my time was not worth anything, and an appointment had lost all meaning.
And now for the most recent story about wait and hold times… This event involved renewing a prescription which is SOP (standard operating procedure) for many of us. For this monthly refill, the insurance company requested a prior authorization from my primary care physician and requested evidence of success with the medication prescribed. My thoughtful doctor’s office (mentioned in previous paragraph) shared the requested data with said insurance company after a week of attempted faxes and calls. As you may have experienced yourself, the issue quickly became price. I was shocked as nothing has changed in the last 5 years, and I decided to become more proactive. I had to dig down to see what the 200% increase in cost was really about. (It’s just my nature). The average phone call was forty seven minutes with the record duration being one hour, nineteen minutes involving four insurance company representatives who kept transferring my call to someone who might care. After a nine day period with eleven calls to the doctor’s office, five calls to the local pharmacy and four calls to said insurance company, the issue seemed to "melt away" along with the countless hours of my life I’ll never get back "waiting". While I’ve reached resolution, my personal opinion is we’ve long oversubscribed to mediocrity and I’m not sure automation and AI have offered any real customer service centric solutions!
How Long Is The Wait?
It is not OK to let the people we serve wait. When we meet new family members for the very first time, I intentionally share that our office does not subscribe to voice mail nor uncaring client service associates. All of those we serve receive respect for their time and commitment to this journey. Our families enjoy our steadfast commitment to being prepared, holding calls and meetings on time and never allowing anyone to feel left out or disregarded. We do not take or place calls during our meetings. We do not answer email or text during our meetings. We focus on the important people we are with. YOU. We stand behind what we commit to help accomplish together. Our entire team is dedicated to serving in an efficient, friendly and timely manner each and every day.
One of the first questions I am asked when a family member or friend you’ve referred visits for the first time is "What makes your group different?" I’m always proud to respond with "We enjoy being at your service. It is our business model." While that may not seem like a big deal, I invite those looking for first class service and attention to their financial needs to think of a time when they felt cared for. Are you on hold? Are you still waiting?
Happy New Year!
At your service,
Steven T. Wilmarth, CEP®, WMS
Any opinions are those of Steven T. Wilmarth and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice.