Circle hands smBy Eric White

As a Client Services Data Analyst, I spend my days dealing with clients and their issues. I was thinking the other day about a few of our “problem” clients and realized that, in many ways, our “worst” clients are our “best” clients.

Our worst clients are demanding. They call us all the time. They want to be sure that we “get” what they’re wanting and/or needing for both their providers and their patients. They’re constantly in contact with us, on the phone with us, discussing any problems that have arisen, questioning the data on their reports or their patient’s triage charts, and making sure that we received the on-call schedule change or modifying a med order or directive.

Compare these boisterous, time consuming customers to our “best” clients. You know…the quiet ones who run on auto-pilot. We rarely ever hear from them other than our regularly scheduled meetings and conferences. If a minor problem crops up, they send us an email. When we call them, we’re told that somebody will call us back.

Our best clients communicate sporadically with us. Our worst clients communicate with us all the time. And, yes, they do communicate. They tell us what’s going on, how they feel about our service, what we’re doing right. And, if we’re doing something wrong, they want to know what we’re doing to correct it. They’re always doing things ahead of time. They send their on-call schedules before the first of the month. They notify us of closings in advance so that we can schedule staffing. If they have to close suddenly, they call us and apologize profusely for having to do it. They answer our level-of-service surveys.

Our best clients have no demands or requests, apart from an occasional tweak here and there. We routinely ask, but usually they lay low until an issue arises and then we find out that Dr. ABC has not been with the practice since May; that the practice moved last month and has a new phone or fax number; that they’ve changed their answering service protocols; that the on-call schedule we have has been modified; or that our primary contact is no longer there as of yesterday. Oh, and the practice isn’t associated with XYZ Hospital any longer. Our problem clients stay in contact and make sure we have and prove we have their multiple updates. They give us a chance to hone our skills, to make the changes that we often need to make and to improve our services. They ask us to rise to the occasion as a top quality service provider.

If the worse clients bring out the best in us, maybe they’re the better clients in the long run and so I’ve been thinking, which client would I really rather have?


Eric White is a Client Services Data Analyst for TeamHealth Medical Call Center.