It pays to speak up when you’re involved in a situation that’s really wrong. I’m not talking about nagging and griping about every little thing that doesn’t go your way, but when something is truly unfair, we should not just suffer in silence.
Three weeks ago, I posted a blog about my complaints about my experiences the day my wife Sharon had hip replacement surgery—and about the hospital’s response to my complaints. They took what I said seriously and began an in depth study to see how best to correct the problems.
As I mentioned in that post, they invited me to a meeting of senior department heads to discuss it. In fact, a follow-up meeting was scheduled to take place as I write this, but they postponed it to keep me from having to drive on snow and ice to get there. They will reschedule for next week and still want me to attend.
More recently, I wrote a letter to the president of Care ‘N’ Care, the insurance company that provides our Medicare advantage plan. Both Sharon and I had spoken to lower level employees about grievances that had gone uncorrected. I was angry and wanted something done.
Fortunately, I managed to maintain a level of calm while I wrote the letter, but I did spell out the grievances in some detail. I assumed my letter would be recycled into some employee’s trashcan, but it wasn’t. I received a call from the president a week or so later. When I told him I was in a meeting and asked if I could call him back, he said he would call me back around the time I told him I’d be available.
He was going to the airport later that day to fly somewhere, so I didn’t really think he’d call me, but he did. He told me he was in the car en route but wanted to address my complaints. We had a very good conversation in which he agreed to pay a claim that had been held up for six months by the dental insurance company his company dealt with. He also told me they realized my complaints about the dental company were well deserved and that they were in the process of replacing that company as we spoke.
By the time we finished our conversation, he had addressed every issue I had raised. Lacking a magic wand, he couldn’t promise to make every change I requested, but he told me what they could and would change and gave me solid reasons why they couldn’t change the ones they couldn’t.
Before we hung up, he thanked me for my letter. He said that when people call or write to say everything is wonderful it makes them feel good but that it doesn’t help them identify problems and search for solutions. He said letters like mine were very helpful in pointing toward things that needed to be changed.
Neither the hospital nor the insurance company has suddenly attained perfection, but that’s okay. I’m not quite perfect either. The point is that in both cases, what I had to say was important enough that they gave me a fair hearing and told me what changes they would make and why they couldn’t change the rest. In the process, they made me feel much better about them.
How do you deal with shortcomings of companies you deal with?
For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.
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Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.