Fish Center for Women's Health - Brigham and Women's Hospital - Very poor customer service for new patients

Posted on Tuesday, September 25th, 2012 at 9:44pm CDT by Kaitlyn Q.

Company: Fish Center for Women's Health - Brigham and Women's Hospital

Location: 850 Boylston Street


Category: Products, Services

To Whom It May Concern:

?Can somebody please just call me back?? This was my simple request made in every one of my six voicemails that I left with the Brigham and Women?s Center for Women in Chestnut Hill.

Having recently moved into my own apartment for the first time, I have realized that it is time to find a new Primary Care Provider (PCP) since my one near home is no longer convenient. After doing some research I found a feature on my insurance company website that allowed me to search doctors accepting new patients. I narrowed my search to doctors affiliated with Brigham and Women?s hospital because of their reputation for quality care. I chose a few doctors to have as options to schedule my appointment with, but I would soon realize that this was completely pointless. Apparently, none of the doctors listed through my insurance company were actually taking new patients. Unfortunately, this was going to be the least of my issues.

I called the Center for Women and was greeted by an automated directory, which is fairly standard nowadays. I selected the option for PCP and then the option for setting up a new patient appointment. The system dumped me into a voicemail where it said to leave my name, social security number and phone number and my call would be returned within one business day. This was not the case. I called and left messages on six occasions, waiting a few days for someone to return my call each time. I knew I just needed to somehow get in touch with a human being in order to schedule my appointment, so I called and tried every possible option on the automated system. I soon realized that there is no option to simply speak with an operator ? or at least not one that I could find.

After all of this, I found an 800-number for appointment scheduling and decided to give it a try. I finally reached an operator and I explained the situation and asked if she could transfer me to a person at that office (not a voicemail) and she said she could certainly do that. I was so relieved until I found myself listening to the same automated system that I had heard so many times before. I called the operator right back and the same woman answered. I told her that I had already left six voicemails and that there is no way to get through to a person in the automated system. Her response was that there wasn?t anything she could do to help me and that I just have to keep trying different extensions until I can get a hold of someone and then maybe they can connect me to a person in the department I need to speak with. I was shocked to say the least. Never before had a customer service representative told me there was nothing they could do to help me and tell me to just keep dialing random numbers until I got in touch with someone. After trying to do this countless times, I was finally able to get in touch with a person who was able to help me.

While I understand that automated systems cut back on the number of phone operators needed and can often be great at directing callers to the right place, they also have faults. In my opinion the majority of companies, especially doctors? offices, should have an operator available to speak to during business hours. Whether it is a problem like mine, where I could not get the scheduling personnel to call me back, or if someone needs medical advice but they are not sure which division to reach out to ? there needs to be a contact person. In the case of Brigham and Women?s Center for Women there is not, and it is extremely frustrating. My suggested course of action should not be to dial random extensions in hopes of getting in touch with someone. I should just be able to get in touch with the extension that I need, or be able to talk to a general operator who can direct me there. I do not think that it is too much to ask to have an operator or two on staff to assist in this way. I would not have minded waiting to speak to an operator. Wait time would not have been an issue for me, because all that I wanted was to have my problem resolved and I could not find anyone who was able (or willing) to help me.

I am suggesting that the Center for Women in Chestnut Hill implement the following two improvements. Both are very simple to add to their current business model, and would not be very costly whatsoever. If they do so, I think they will have much more satisfied patients and be able to provide much greater customer service. First of all, at the end of the opening sequence of the automated system the Center should have an option to speak to an operator for further questions. This person will likely not get completely bombarded by calls because most callers will be likely to choose one of the nine departments listed beforehand. That is why the company should have this option listed at the end or maybe prompt the caller with this option after they have failed to select one of the previous nine options within a set amount of time. If hiring phone operators is completely out of the question, then perhaps interns could be looked at to fill this void. The duty could also be rotated weekly through the departments so additional staff is not needed. The second improvement I am suggesting is much easier to implement and likely will not have any additional cost to the company. I think that management should talk to every department and put in place some standard to ensure that all messages and calls are returned in a timely manner. It does not necessarily have to be within the next business day, but the call back time quoted on voicemails should accurately reflect when the company will be getting back to the callers. When I left my first message, I was happy that my call would be returned within one business day ? but this never happened. If instead the voice recording had said my call would be returned within three business days, I would not have been upset with the amount of time and it is much more likely that all calls can be returned within that time window. I am guessing that no one is checking up to ensure that these calls are returned so this problem is likely flying under the radar, which could lead to a great loss of patients. This is why I am writing this letter. I was willing to keep trying because I had done the research and knew that this was the Center I wanted to be a patient of, but new patients who may not do as much research as I did will likely just give up after their first failed attempt and go elsewhere. With these two simple fixes, the Center for Women can greatly improve its operations in dealing with new patients.


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