Just Trying To Keep The Customer Satisfied

The institution that employs me is very bullish on customer satisfaction.  Having come from a fourteen year stint in private practice before I came back into the University fold six years ago, the little things that make a practice run smoothly come naturally to me. Patients are typically seen within a week of the consultation request—same day if they are in an emergency situation.  My front office staff actually answer their phones and my nurses and I return phone calls from patients, even if we have to do it after regular business hours.  The physicist and dosimetrist make sure that the radiation plans are optimal and that each plan undergoes intense scrutiny and quality assurance before the patient ever lies down on the table. The therapy staff work hard to make sure that the patients are treated with dignity and on time, at an hour which is convenient to their schedules. Despite my natural inclination towards dawdling and chatting, I try to keep to my schedule.  At the end of a patient’s treatment course, I personally ask him or her to fill out our patient satisfaction survey because the University bases my staff’s bonuses on the results. So far, I have never been disappointed.

Recently we treated a patient who had some significant physical challenges.  He was extremely overweight, with severe arthritis in his hips and knees.  In order to get to the “vault” to be treated, he had to be wheeled in a wheelchair, which required the coordination of several people since our doors lock for security.  Each day, a therapist would come up the elevator to get the patient, and our receptionist would hold open the door so that it would not close and bang into the wheelchair.  Time changes were made in his schedule to accommodate his other numerous appointments.  His wife partook of our Halloween potluck party and shared tidbits about her day with our front office staff.  His handicapped parking space was never occupied, and he never waited for treatment.  To all outward appearances he and his wife were treated like members of our family.  At the end of his treatment, the results of their patient satisfaction survey were eagerly awaited.  We knew it was going to be spectacular.  And it was.  On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best, each question was answered successively with a 5.  Was it easy to get a convenient appointment?  5.   Were you welcomed in a friendly manner? 5. Was the center comfortable and clean?  5.  Did the physician clearly explain the treatment objectives to you?  Again, 5, of course.  And so it went.  Until we came to the “Comments” section at the end.

Dated 11/15/13, the comments were written with perfect penmanship and read as follows:  “We thought your pink wall might be better if it was more of a rust color, to match the chairs and vases.  The color that it is just didn’t seem to go with the room.”

I’ll probably run out and pick up the paint chips at Home Depot this weekend.  We’ll get right on it!

Other People’s Money

I love to shop with other people’s money.  My father and I spent the weekend shopping to outfit his new apartment.  After living with me since January, when he was hit with the double whammy of my mother’s death and his own need for open heart surgery, he is ready both physically and emotionally, to strike out on his own again.  During our trip back to Colorado last week, we realized that there was very little, apart from his collection of Western art, acquired slowly over a lifetime in a labor of love,  that he could use.  Everything in their home there was exactly to my mother’s specifications, that is, feminine in tone and color, and scaled to the vast vaulted ceilings of a ski chalet.  It is all staying behind for the new owner.

My sister had tried to help with the outfitting of the new place.  She lives in close proximity to the Short Hills, New Jersey mall, where you can buy just about anything, including, last time I was there, a DaVinci Robot for robotic surgery.  Well maybe you couldn’t actually buy it, but you could play with it.  Hoards of teenaged boys stood in line to work the controls while their mothers vied for the latest Louis Vuitton.  I felt certain that between Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, and Restoration Hardware, they could buy what he needed in the air conditioned comfort of the mall, and have it delivered via the stores’ California warehouses.  But alas, the couches and chairs at these furniture stores, were all “special order”, meaning a six to eight week wait for delivery.  My father is a surgeon:  it goes without saying that he is not very good at waiting for anything. Just ask his scrub nurses.

So off we went to my own personal idea of shopping heaven, the Cedros Design District in Solana Beach, a place where I have had so much success in my own decorating efforts that not one, but THREE stores give me a decorator’s discount, though anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I am no interior designer.  I just know what I like.  My eclectic repertoire ranges from simple Shaker wooden furniture to faux lux upholstered pieces that need only a Scottish deerhound draped elegantly as an accent.  Dad was game and had the high limit platinum credit card, which he jokingly explained to a baffled salesgirl that it was “just a little something I found on the sidewalk outside.”

One gorgeous distressed leather couch, a free form coffee table cut from a single slab of acacia wood, a leather covered burnished walnut desk and console fit for a Fortune 500 executive, a new queen sized bed with a padded taupe linen headboard, outfitted in high thread count linens in a cool beige, accented by a silk burgundy prayer rug on the floor later, Dad is nearly ready to move in.  The art collection will arrive in August, courtesy of an artist friend who is willing to make the drive from Colorado to San Diego and who will actually take CARE of the art.  I made the new bed in the new apartment today, stepped back and with my Dad, took a look at our work.  He said, “My new place is beautiful. Do you think it might attract any of the ladies in this place?”   He’s baaack!