(Please Don’t) Keep Me Waiting (Issue 1140)

In which are reminded to not to leave clients and prospects in suspense when they’re waiting for our responses, proposals, or deliverables.

My appointment was set for 9:50 am. A simple blood-draw appointment, maybe 10 minutes long. Plenty of time before my 10:30 conference call. I parked the car at 9:45, confirmed on the lab’s phone app that I had arrived, and walked from the parking lot to the lab. Across the street, up the steps, through the lobby doors, and down the hall to find…seven people sitting in the small waiting room and two people standing in the hallway.

9:50…. 9:55…. 10:00…

At some point, more than two years ago, this particular lab office reduced staff to a single lab technician. No receptionist. Only signs taped to the reception counter wall – how to check in, what to bring for employment screenings, priorities for being served (people with appointments before walk-ins).

… 10:05… One of the people in the waiting room left. Three more arrived, looking a bit pinched. 10:10… 10:12…10:15….10:17…

The door to the appointment rooms opened and the lab tech emerged, calling “O’Connor”. O’Connor rose from her chair.

“Excuse me,” I called out, possibly a bit too loud. Everyone froze. “Good morning and I’m wondering how far behind you’re running. My appointment was at 9:50 and…”

“There are other people in front of you.” The lab tech’s response seemed a mix of that-should-be-obvious and you-should-know-better-than-to-ask.

“Yes, I see,” I acknowledged more gently. Kinks in the system. “I’m just wondering whether you can give us a sense of timing so we can plan.” [Tired of waiting…. tired of waiting for you.]

“No, there are other people in front of you, everyone is different, I can’t tell you how long or when it’ll be your turn.” He turned and closed the door behind himself and O’Connor.

Three more people rose from their chairs and left the waiting room. I called my 10:30 appointment to apologize and say that I’d be 15 minutes late and that I’d call again if things changed.

At 10:24, the lab tech emerged, calling “Miller”. I followed him inside.

Nick Miller is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. He assists banks and credit unions to generate more and more profitable relationships, faster, with business clients, their owners, and their employees through better sales strategies and execution. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.


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