Saturday, September 01, 2007

RANT: Where's the Communication? * EPILOGUE *

The continuing saga of Kirby's emergency is punctuated by a series of communication gaps...between our vet and the emergency vet hospital, between the people who answer the phone at the emergency vet hospital and the doctors at the emergency vet hospital and between the front office people at our vet's office and the doctor herself. A short communication rundown follows. But what irks me is the fact that these aren't isolated events...increasingly it seems to be the way business is done. Everyone's so busy handling their discrete piece of work, no one is stepping back to look at the big picture, to think about the client experience and make sure the communication flow is happening effectively.

1) Our vet sends Kirby to the emergency vet for overnight observation, meds and IV fluids (which we couldn't administer at home). She tells us: "We open at 8am, so if he's doing better tomorrow morning and you want to get Kirby out of the emergency vet and bring him over, I'd like to give him an exam before releasing him."

2) Emergency vet says: "Go ahead and give us a call around 7am and we'll let you know if he's stable and then you can come and get him."

3) We set the alarm for half past crack-o-dawn to make sure we're ready to go. We call the emergency vet. The woman who answers the phone says Kirby is stable, but still on IV and they don't want to release him until their vet has a chance to talk with our vet, which won't happen until 9am or so, so we should just call back then.

4) We call our vet. Office closed. Doesn't open until 9am.

5) We call the emergency vet at 9am. Emergency vet (now the morning vet) tells us "We thought you were coming to get him at 8am to take him to your vet." HUH? Did anyone tell that to the person I talked to at 7-something this morning?

6) Emergency vet tells us she hasn't heard from our vet. I mention that the person I spoke with this morning said the emergency vet was going to call our vet. She says she'll call now and get back to me.

7) Emergency vet calls back and tells us that they spoke with our vet and agreed that they're going to keep Kirby for a few more hours so they can feed him and make sure he's not throwing up anymore. Call back at 2pm.

8) 10:50am-ish - our vet's office calls to say "We hear Kirby's been released from the emergency vet and we're just checking to see how he's doing." HUH? My husband explains that we've been given the runaround, that Kirby's still at the emergency vet, and what does our vet have to say about all this? Vet's office person tells him "I'll talk to the vet and we'll call you back in 10 minutes."

9) Half hour later, the vet still hasn't called. Kirby's still at the emergency vet. My husband is fuming and I'm blogging about it. So productive.

Where's the communication? I think we have a great veterinary hospital, don't get me wrong. But for the vet to tell us they have great coordination with the emergency vet hospital is a bit of a stretch. Apparently no one is thinking about the whole picture, i.e. Where is Kirby now? Has anyone communicated with Kirby's family? Have any of these vets communicated status to their front office people so that when Kirby's worried family calls they know what is going on?

This is just one thing. And, unfortunately, little Kirby is in the middle of it. But the part the really ticks me off is that we've experienced this TOO MANY TIMES TO COUNT in the past few months, as we've tried to buy a house, sell a house, move into a house, get repairs done on the new house, etc. Businesses who are supposed to be coordinating on things aren't communicating with each other effectively. Within businesses, individuals aren't communicating with each other effectively. And no one is communicating status to the clients because no one owns the "big picture," just their little pieces of the puzzle.

Is this a problem with our individualistic culture? Have we just reached a point where everone is so overwhelmed just trying to manage their own workloads they never pull their heads up to look around and ask if anyone is serving the customer?

Where's the communication? Where's the customer service?

* 10) finally got a call from the vet. She said she understood from the emergency vet that Kirby was OK and could go home. Wires crossed somewhere there. We went to the e-vet, checked Kirby out and took him to the regular vet, who said he looked much better and sent us home with 2 meds and some special diet for a couple of days.

What happened to Kirby is still a mystery. What happened to effective communication is also still a mystery. But at least the vet was nice and we have our little guy back home with us.

1 comment:

KM said...

This lack of coordination has to do with businesses and service orgs trusting in tech to do the hard work of communication, not just data gathering.