Subtitled "I don't know who peed in your Cheerios this morning, lady, but it wasn't me"...
Today's Customer Service Nightmare brought to you by the Pet Shop Boys - goooo 80's flashback!
Now that this is firmly implanted in your brain, let me tell you about ANGRY WOMAN, who spoke to me this afternoon for a mercifully brief, albeit excruciating, time.
In the course of a phone call to place a refill order, I am required to ask an average of 10-12 questions. Some of them, if the customer has played nice with the phone system, I am able to skip. Some questions are a result of the way I choose to go about placing an order, but most are required for verification purposes, either to comply with HIPAA privacy laws, or for our own procedures to make sure we've got the correct address, phone number, and credit card info for our customers.
ANGRY WOMAN did not want to answer questions. ANGRY WOMAN wanted me to do things in her way, in her time frame, and was already apparently in a snit when I answered her call.
First question: "Can I have your name please?" Normally this elicits the customer's first and last name - other reps phrase it as "Can I have your first and last name please?", which I suppose could cut down on the additional questions later... but then, when I have someone calling from another department within the company, or from a pharmacy or a doctor's office, I don't always need their full name. ANGRY WOMAN gave me her first name, and then very curtly stated she wanted a refill order. I could already tell that she was going to be difficult.
Second question: "Can I have your ID number please?" ANGRY WOMAN rattled off the 9 digit ID so quickly I was barely able to follow it - thankfully, I managed to get it right the first time so as to save myself from being berated at this point. That came later.
Third and fourth questions: "And your last name and date of birth, please?" These are things I have to verify for privacy purposes. Most people are understanding about this. ANGRY WOMAN does not care about HIPAA and her internal pressure is clearly building.
My next step (questions #7 and 8) is usually to ask whether the customer has any allergies or health conditions that need to be reported to the pharmacists. According to the training we received, they prefer we phrase the question this way instead of asking if there are any updates to allergies and health conditions, because that could lead to the assumption that we have everything on file already, and we may not. The purpose is making sure any updates get put in the system, of course, and it's another question I'm supposed to ask for every order. ANGRY WOMAN was not in the mood, so I skipped over it, hoping to come back to it later.
So I started a new order in my prescription ordering program, and started to fill out the basic order info: shipping address, payment, and shipping type. These are also questions I normally ask: Are we shipping to your home address... Are we using the credit card on file (or if there are multiple cards on file, can I have the last 4 digits and expiration date of the card we're using on this order)... and is standard shipping going to be OK (i.e. do you need to pay extra for expedited shipping)? ANGRY WOMAN didn't even let me get the first question asked. I started to say (after her STOP ASKING QUESTIONS outburst) that I needed to verify a couple of things, but as soon as I began with the shipping address, she started YELLING IN MY EAR. She demanded that I skip directly to taking down which medications she wanted to order.
Now, in order for me to get from where I was to the screen with the list of prescriptions on it, I have to do one of two things: either make assumptions to finish up the basic order information (only parts of which I can go back and alter if it's incorrect) and get beyond it to the screen where I can add Rxs to the order, or back out of it altogether. ANGRY WOMAN had me rattled by this point, so I hit "escape" and went back to her prescription list to try to follow what she wanted to order.
The first item she listed was fine. The second one she listed was one that we did not have in the list for the strength she was requesting, and before I could ask about that discrepancy she told me her doctor was faxing that in to us today. And sure enough, there was an order in process, still being entered into the system, faxed in today by her doctor. So I informed her that this item was already on a separate order, and prepared to get the information for the next prescription she wanted to fill.
But no. ANGRY WOMAN went BALLISTIC. She started yelling that IN NO WAY were we to ship her multiple packages. THIS IS WHY SHE IS CALLING ME, because SHE WANTS EVERYTHING SHIPPED TOGETHER, and I AM TO ADD HER REFILLS TO THE ORDER ALREADY IN PROCESS OR FACE HER WRATH. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES IS SHE TO RECEIVE MULTIPLE PACKAGES, DO I UNDERSTAND HER? If we cannot do things her way, she practically screams, she will cancel EVERYTHING, RIGHT NOW, and she doesn't care how much extra money she has to pay, she will be going to her local pharmacy FROM NOW ON.
At this point, I am positive I'd prefer her to do just that. The more money she has to pay, the better. Because not only is she being ANGRY WOMAN, she is being ANGRY CONDESCENDING WOMAN. She just cannot comprehend why I do not understand HOW MUCH OF AN INCONVENIENCE IT IS FOR HER TO RECEIVE TWO PACKAGES. I must clearly be an incompetent moron. And she's apparently not in the mood to make any sort of explanation that may enlighten me as to why opening two packages is such a big freaking hairy deal that she sounds like she is ready to cause someone bodily harm here.
But hey. I'm still doing my gosh-darnedest to be helpful and conciliatory, to apologize for incovenience and bend over backwards to assist the customer. Our systems just don't allow for us to stop an order in process and add more items to it, so I told her what I could do (which is how we are instructed to make things better - not by focusing on what we can't do, but what we can and will do to help!). I offered to put in a request to cancel the order in process and put the prescription on file once they finished entering it into the system, and then we'd be able to put everything onto one order. She asked me how long this would take. I really honestly didn't know what to tell her, because being fairly late in the afternoon on a Friday, I wasn't sure whether the technicians who were working on the order entry would finish it and see my request later today, or tomorrow, or even Sunday, when I wouldn't be in the office. I was pretty sure someone would see it and cancel the order well before they got to the dispensing, packaging and shipping part, but how long that would be is anyone's guess. I estimated it could take a day or two. This did not make ANGRY WOMAN any less angry.
I offered to keep an eye on her account for the next few days to verify when the order got canceled and the prescription was available to put into an order for her, and then get everything in there at once. She incredulously screamed "AND YOU EXPECT ME TO TRUST YOU TO DO THAT?"
She then began ranting about how HORRIBLY INCONVENIENT it is for her that she's going to be traveling next week, and she's GOING TO HAVE TO CALL US BACK in 2 or 3 days to place this order. DO I UNDERSTAND HOW INCONVENIENT THAT IS? Why yes, I symphathized, which is why I offered to take down all the information, watch her account and take care of everything so she won't have to call back. Again, she is aghast that I EXPECT HER TO TRUST ME TO DO MY JOB.
By now I fully expected this to turn into a supervisor call, but she never took it to that level. Which I suppose is just as well, because the supervisors are allowed to get a little more firm with the customers and tell them to, in essence, chill the heck out and let us help them. And they would tell her the same darn thing I did, that we have to wait for the item entry to be complete and the order to cancel before we can put everything on the same order. And they might even tell her the honest truth is that even if we put everything on one order, we still cannot guarantee that she will only receive one package, because sometimes they dispense different medications from different pharmacy locations, or split an order when there's an issue with manufacturer supply or they want to attempt a therapeutic substitution or whatnot. Oh, that would be sure to cause a nuclear reaction.
But no, ANGRY WOMAN did not demand to speak to someone else. She continued to be a thorn in MY side. I entered the request to cancel the order from the doctor and put the RX on file for use when she placed her refill of everything at once. I informed her that was done. And then she said "FINE. Are you going to PLACE MY ORDER NOW?"
To which I reminded her that I had to wait for the existing order to actually cancel before I could do that. And she said (with a certain amount of acid in her voice) "So are you going to do anything else?" And I said, as calmly as I could, "Ma'am, from what you're telling me, there is nothing else that you want me to do right now."
And she said "That's right." And hung up before I could very politely thank her for calling and wish her a good evening.
I remember her name. I will remember it long enough that if I am unlucky enough to get her call next week when she decides she's waited long enough for the order to cancel, my finger may just "accidentally" slip and hit the "release" button on the call. Whoopsies.