Dear Doctor, Don’t You Know Me By Now?

by Joanna Pineda Posted on January 21, 2010

I went for my annual physical yesterday. I love the practice I go to, but I hate feeling like I’m a nameless, faceless patient, even though I’ve been a patient for a decade. I also hate that I have to fill out the same infernal forms over and over again and write my name, address and insurance information multiple times. My check-in went something like this:

Me: Hello, Joanna Pineda, here for a 3:15 appointment.
Receptionist: Hello, please sign in. Has any of your information changed since your list visit?
Me: No.
Receptionist: Okay. Wait, you need to fill out new forms. (Hands me blank forms)

I sit down and sigh as I realize that I am giving my doctor all the information she already has.  Not one thing in my profile has changed.  I also have to agree to a 4-page HIPAA privacy statement, which infuriates me because I have about three minutes to review the document.  C’mon doctor, can’t you:

Thankfully, because of my work, I’m familiar with HIPAA privacy statements and my rights, but what normal person takes the time to read and understand the document and his/her rights?

This doctor visit makes me think of how Matrix Group clients want and expect that we will know them, their organization, their contact information, their projects. It’s a joke around the office that many clients have achieved one-name status around here, kind of like Madonna or Cher.  All the receptionist needs to say is, “Rajani (Rick, Pat, Sue, Merla, or Adrianne) is on the line” and pretty much every staff member knows who she’s talking about.  Of course, more common names like Dan or Tim need a client name, but if you’re a frequent caller, our First Impressions Officer will probably know you by voice.

And when a client sends in a request for an enhancement to an existing design or application, they expect that we know the app inside and out and will think of all the nuances associated with the request.  Even if the app was created five years ago.  Only makes sense, right?

Remember Cheers?  The bar where everyone knows you’re name?  I think that’s what every client wants — to be known, to feel special, to not waste their time explaining information you should already know. So at Matrix Group, we’ve spent a lot of time on our systems, communications and intranet so that clients always feel known when they call or visit the bar called Matrix Group.

Of course, we stumble every once in a while.  A few years ago, when our current receptionist was new, she asked a longtime client the name of his organization, which of course he provided.  But when he got to me, he needled me about how the receptionist didn’t know him.  Mr. client was very sweet about the whole thing, but the message was clear: I’m a longtime client, your staff should know me.

How about you? What do your clients expect from you? And how do you make them feel comfortable that you “know them?”

5 replies on “Dear Doctor, Don’t You Know Me By Now?”

I’m with you 100%. In our line of work (very similar), we have instituted some new things to make clients feel more welcome, especially now that we have many clients coming onsite for project work.

Staff are encouraged to drop in to say hello to client meetings, we have a bulletin board that greets clients coming into the building, we provide clients visiting us with a “What to do in Rochester” packet.

My personal challenge – is that I’m remote! I have not met many of my customers face to face. At Dreamforce this fall, I met a longtime client for the first time, and I had to do a double take when I read their nametag to put it together. It was pretty funny for both of us and we both got a laugh out of it, but it really made me think… how can I do a better job accomplishing this as a remote employee.

Thanks for another great post!


I’ve always thought human doctors should aim to be more like vets. Taking my dog to her vet appointments is 10 times more enjoyable than going to my own doctor for the reasons you mentioned. At the vet, they know me and my dog. They are excited to see us and see that we are doing well. They genuinely care. If every company could put out that energy to their clients, they’d see an uptick in retention. I guarantee it.

I couldn’t agree more! I recently stopped by the local donut shop for a cup of coffee. I used to stop by every day a couple of years back, but more recently I have been making coffee at home (to save money) or I end up at Starbucks (for espresso instead of coffee). But I was in a rush one morning, didn’t make coffee at home, didn’t want to stand in line at Starbucks so I decided to go to the donut shop. To my absolute surprise, the lovely lady behind the counter greeted me with, “Long time no see – your usual?”

How is it that she is not only able to acknowledge me as a client, but also remember my preferences and yet we become just a “number” to vendors (business or personal – like our doctors)? The companies that “get” this are the ones that will be successful and retain customers year after year.

Interesting post! I agree that it is defintiely a bother to fill out the same paperwork over and over again at the doctor’s office, especially in a setting that requires such a personal interaction-it’s hard to feel like a statistic.

I was inspired to comment on this post because I just recently had a “revolutionary” experience at a new doctor’s office. Upon entering, of course, I had to fill out the usual HIPAA forms etc. but then to my surprise, I was issued an ID card, and told that upon my next visit, I wouldn’t have to fill out the usual paperwork, and instead, this card goes into an ATM – like machine that keeps my medical records, can provide lab results, insurance information etc. This office made it EASY to do business with them!

In addition to saving the paper and saving time, cutting down manual data entry (which is always subject to error, the staff was incredibly helpful and detailed when explaining how the card and process worked, which seemed to make it a very easily adoptable system. The best part out of all of this, despite the check-in process being incredibly automated, the doctor I saw was anything but. By the time I left, I felt like she knew me, my medical history and cared about my issues. This was a refreshing change from the apathetic, rushed, disorganized and borderline rude physician staff that I have been often encountered in the past.

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