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    When Going the Extra Mile isn’t Enough

    What do you do about the customer who is never satisfied?

    Sunday dinner was always a big deal to my Mom. After Sunday morning Mass, she always had a big meal, usually roasted chicken, or roast beef and all the trimmings. My brothers and I went to late Mass one morning and got home just in time for Sunday dinner. We were mortified that of all things, Mom made a meatloaf.

    We groaned “that is not Sunday dinner—meatloaf is for Wednesdays!”  Mom shot back “I could give you kids the world with a red picket fence around it and you would complain that it wasn’t green” My Dad a little rougher around the edges would always say “You’d complain if I hung you with a new rope.”

    We pharmacists always want to go the extra mile for our patients, and seldom get the gratitude we desire. Truth is, we have some customers who are never satisfied. I have one we’ll name “Martha.”

    She is one of the wealthiest women in my demographic, she is older, and never happy.  Something is always wrong. She wants a certain brand of Mag-Ox 400mg, she and her husband cannot tolerate generics! Yes, they need brand name Norvasc, Prinivil, and Evista. So abusive is this lady that I forbid my staff to talk to her on the phone. When she calls, they smile broadly and say “I’ll get Pete for you.”

    Related article: How to Deal with an Angry Customer

    Last week I get the call again. Our driver delivers the brand names, the correct brand of Mag-Ox, and she calls and is furious. Why did we send her tablets of Vitamin-D?  She wants gel caps. I informed her that she requested Vitamin-D 400 IU, which from our sources is only available as a tablet. If she wants gel caps, we’d have to change the dose up to 1000 IU. She screamed “I want the gel caps. Give me whatever strength you have. It must be gel caps!” We send the driver down with Vitamin-D1000 IU gel caps and pick up the tablets.

    She calls back, “Why did you send Norvasc? My husband no longer takes that.” I said “Martha, you must work with me. You get so upset when we don’t send meds that are too early to fill when your doctor orders them. We sent these because he ordered them this morning.” She said “I don’t want it. He no longer takes it.” 

    Rob, our CFO at Thompson Pharmacy, is a super bright businessman. When I was discussing some of my super-wealthy (and super-unhappy) customers, he shared this information. “The magic number for happiness is $160,000 annual income for this area. Once that level is reached the next dollar does not buy any more happiness. You have provided well for all your needs. An ‘uber-wealthy’ business owner can’t be any happier than a two-income family making $160,000 per year. They just have more money to waste.”

    We all have our “Marthas.” They are those customers who are just so demanding and impossible to deal with. I do not argue with them. Yes, I am firm, but I have a saying: “I don’t argue with people dumber than me. Just because I quit arguing doesn’t mean I agree with them.” Some super-rich and super-entitled folks are so accustomed to everyone bending for them they will never appreciate our efforts. Be firm, let them talk and vent, but we have a job to do within the realms of the law and standards of practice. Then you have material to discuss with your wife, over Sunday dinner … just as long as it isn’t meatloaf!

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    • SETHLEFKOW@------.COM
      My pharmacy was in one of the highest income neighborhoods in the county. Some of our customers were national household names. When we had (for too long) a difficult customer, and it became no longer profitable to cater to him/her, I would call and explain that we have done everything in our power to accommodate their needs but we seem to have come up short. I would tell them that I value their business and I thank them for it, but as a professional I cannot accept this behavior. I would suggest they might be happier if they tried another pharmacy and that I would welcome them back if they choose to return. We would discuss our differences -- my concerns and theirs. Not once did we lose a customer. In fact they became far more amiable and understanding. Pharmacists, unless you put a little steel in your spine some of your customers are going to take advantage of you. It took a bit of guts to do what I did the first time, but it paid off.
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