So you can imagine how tickled I was when I got a referral to one of the top doctors in the US in my needed specialty. Less than an hour’s drive from home, no less! I thought all my problems were solved. Great care from a brilliant physician, conveniently located. All would be well.
It’s true, Doctor X is fabulous. She’s brilliant. Top of her game. Amazing diagnostic skills, and even more, a compassionate beside manner. I love her, absolutely I do.
When I can get to her, that is. And there’s the problem.
Surrounding Doctor X is a vortex of apathy and bureaucratic red tape masquerading as an office staff.
It’s simple stuff, too. Things that just don’t happen in a well managed office. Things like:
When I go for an appointment, I sit in an exam room for three to four hours after my scheduled time, waiting to be seen. Inquiries are met with the response, “She’s worth the wait.”
An urgent call to request records is met with a flippant, “We don’t fax records. You have to wait until next Friday and we’ll mail them.” When I ask for other options, the clerk tells me, “I’m sorry, there are no other options.”
Emails sent to the doctor’s listed email address are not acknowledged nor is any response given.
Calls to speak with the nurse often result in a hold time of 30 to 45 minutes – before being put into voice mail. With no apology from the receptionist.
So far, I’ve put up with this insanity because the doctor IS a rock star. Genius in heels and a lab coat, with answers to a lot of my issues. But after my most recent (frustrating) visit, I’ve had just about enough and am starting to look for a new provider.
Because a rock star ain’t a rock star if the backup band stinks.
And there’s the lesson for all of us in professional services. Just like my medical practice has its rock star doctor, you’ve got rock stars in your firm. Truly brilliant minds with real answers for client questions and a passion for helping people.
But if your gatekeepers aren’t doing their jobs, you’re headed for trouble. Not as quickly as you would if your brilliant partners and staff weren’t so incredibly good at what they do. But eventually there will be a breaking point, where the pain of getting to the great provider is greater than the benefit derived from their counsel.
The brilliance of a few great minds simply isn’t enough to keep clients for the long haul.
The true differentiator of a great firm – the thing that keeps clients coming back again and again and referring over and over – is the honest care and sweat equity of a brilliant support staff for your geniuses. A great backup band for your rock stars, helping your clients get the information they need day after day.
With that in mind, how long has it been since you did a top-to-bottom diagnostic on your firm’s client support?
If it’s been a while, I strongly recommend you make a thorough evaluation of all the entry points into your firm. See how easy it is (or isn’t) for your clients to access the people they want to reach. Learn firsthand how happy, genuine, and willing your gatekeepers are to open the way for clients to get what they need.
If everyone in the firm performs brilliantly, from top to bottom, the firm can’t help but succeed.
But it’s up to you to make sure. BEFORE you lose clients who love your work, but hate getting the runaround.