One of the major frustrations for any of us is having to wait. For instance, we have all heard complaints such as, "I sat in that doctor's office for nearly an hour before she saw me. It was awful and I had to cancel two other appointments because I was running so late." Then there's waiting for someone to call you back or for a plumber or electrician to fix something in your home. Or the wait in line for a sporting event or to buy tickets to something you then have to wait in another line to actually get into.
In the military they call it, "Hurry up and wait." There are lines for everything, including eating. I remember well being processed through Camp Drake in Yokohama, Japan, during the Korean conflict and being rousted out of bed at 2 a.m. to get in line for breakfast, which didn't start until 5 a.m. Now that was a long line.
How many times have you walked into a store and looked for someone to wait on you, with nobody in sight? If you are lucky you eventually run into someone who might give you service, but you could wind up never being served.
In seems that these days people are more pressed for time, or at least we feel that way. We have a culture of instant gratification. We hate waiting for anything. We want things faster and quicker, and if we don't get it quickly we move on to another vendor or restaurant or plumber or real estate company. We want service and we want it now.
Of course, nothing gets people as upset as traffic tie-ups, which cause road rage. It's no wonder that is so prevalent in large urban areas. Not only are people in more of a hurry, but congestion is much worse because there are more of us in the sprawling cities, and the urban infrastructure hasn't kept up with the growth.
Lately I have been hearing about something different, called "register rage." That's when people have to stand in line at the checkout counter and the line moves too slowly. People explode because they are so stressed or they have someone waiting for them or they are just plain tired.
Surprisingly, many businesses don't understand this, and they don't get it when their business starts falling off. You would think that communicating with your customers would be standard business practice, but it isn't always so.
The fact is, many corporate executives don't understand people's need to be treated promptly and considerately. Look around you at successful companies or individuals and you hear things such as, "He always returns your phone calls in a few minutes," or, "Those people really believe in service. I called them that morning and they told me they would come out to the house by 2 p.m. and they actually showed up on time. It was terrific and they actually fixed the refrigerator in no time at all."
Why is it so many of us in our workplaces wait so long to answer phones? If you're on another call that's one thing, but why the hesitation to answer a phone and either take an order or give someone advice about something they bought at your business? Any phone should be answered after only one or two rings. Plus, there is no excuse for not returning phone calls. Business is business, and unless we understand that people don't like to be kept waiting, we are missing something crucial to success.
And that brings me to healthcare and all the waiting we do as patients.
I have just returned from a luncheon with a couple who are about to be married. They are young and very much in love and fun to be with. In the course of our luncheon, the future bride related a story about visiting a physician a day or two before. It was a routine matter but she was kept waiting for more than two hours, and this young, beautiful lady had the face of an ogre as she told the story of how long she had to wait for a five-minute visit with the doctor. She made it clear she has had it with that physician.
The same thing seems to happen with some regularity when any of us go to hospitals for various tests and, of course, the wait in physicians' offices is something we have all come to expect. I understand that sometimes things get backed up, but when it happens all the time it doesn't make a good impression on patients, who are the customers, after all.
If an appointment is made by a doctor's office or healthcare institution, the patient should be seen in a time frame that isn't counted in hours but minutes and preferably seconds. Who knows, we might start a new trend here?
If you don't respond to customers promptly, you are asking for all kinds of problems. People are busy, and we don't like to wait. There are other businesses waiting to take away that business.
I know everyone is trying harder and many healthcare executives and physicians are very aware of the problems that can occur when patients are kept waiting too long. But no matter what business you are in, if you don't recognize the trend for getting things quickly you are heading for trouble.
Sure it's a shame we are all so busy and so stressed. But that's the reality of modern-day living. We are all trying to squeeze more and more into our lives on a daily basis, and when we don't get served quickly we react negatively. So faster and more efficient is the name of the game, and you had better be prepared to get on the field of play.