Monday, January 7, 2008

This is why I'm best suited for this job

Near the end of the day today, a woman called the pharmacy to check if her prescription for Botox was ready to be picked up. She brought the prescription to us on Friday 12/28. We explained to her that Botox had to be drop shipped to us, and since it was a holiday weekend, it may take several business days for us to get it. Initially, she seemd OK with this explanation.

On Wednesday of the following week, she called the pharmacy asking if the Botox came in. Of course, it had not. We told her we weren't sure when it would get here, but probably within the next couple of days. She called the following day (Thursday). Once again, we told her we did not receive the Botox yet.

Friday is when things started to breakdown. She called late in the day on Friday, and unfortunately she spoke to a clerk who is fairly new. The clerk looked in the computer, saw the prescription on her profile, and told the woman it was all set to be picked up. The woman came in the next day (Saturday) looking to pick it up, and mass confusion ensued. The woman kept telling us that someone told her the presciption was all set, so the pharmacist and technician on duty tore the place apart looking for it, and after 20 minutes of looking to find out what happened to the Botox, they came up empty.

The woman was in a rush and left before the problem could be resolved. Eventually, the tech figured out that we never received a shipment of Botox, so she called the woman and left her a message telling her the Botox still hadn't come in and that she would call our warehouse first thing Monday morning and figure out where the hell it was and why it was taking so long.

When Monday (Today) came along, the tech did exactly that. In fact, she called several people and eventually learned that the order should be arriving via FedEx by 3:00PM on Tuesday.

This all brings us back to the woman calling the pharmacy at 7:30PM today. She was extremely pissed off at us for "messing up her order." I guess because the shipment took so long to get to us, she had to cancel and reschedule her doctor's appointment twice. At the time, I didn't know much of the backstory with the prescription. All I knew was that she brought us a prescription, and it still hadn't arrived. I also knew we called all over the place trying to figure out what happened to it.

Apparently, the woman misunderstood the message our tech left her and interpreted it as us getting the order some time last week, but we sent it back because we got some sort of wrong paperwork with it. She was raving mad. She told me that not only would she never use our pharmacy again, she'd tell everyone she knew to never trust us.

The whole sequence of events didn't make much sense to me, so I told her that I was going to call the technician who worked the weekend and find out what happened. I told the woman, I'd call her right back.

When I spoke to the tech, I learned that whole backstory I already described. I quickly called the woman back (after no more than 5 minutes), and explained to her what really happened. I told her that one of our inexperienced workers incorrectly told her on Friday that the Botox came in, and I apologized for the confusion it caused. I calmly explained to her that we never received the Botox, and we have been going out of our way to find out where it is and when we're going to get it. I further explained that unfortunately, the timing of the order was really bad being that it was on a Friday right between Christmas and New Year's. It usually does not take us over a week to get a product in after we ordered it, but the holidays must have thrown everything off. Finally, I told her that we got a confirmation from our warehouse that it should arrive by 3:00 PM tomorrow, and I promised we would call her the second we received it.

Within the span of 10 minutes, this woman went from being really pissed off to actually apologizing a little to me for misinterpreting the message left on her machine. While, of course, she wasn't happy that her prescription was not ready, she came to understand that it wasn't really our fault.

I know that this may sound trivial to some people, but being able to calm down a pissed off customer is harder than it may seem. A lot of pharmacists simply do not have this ability. Had a certain other pharmacist I know got that phone call, she would have made matters 1,000x worse. This situation was a tough one because I had to find a delicate balance between being apologetic and assertive. I owned up for our part in the whole confusion, but at the same time, I asserted that we did everything in our power to get her order to arrive as soon as possible.

Many pharmacists think that any moron with a pharmacy license could count pills all day and that you aren't truly practicing pharmacy unless you're in a more clinical environment. Maybe some of that is true. Maybe you do have to be smarter and more knowledgeable about drugs to work in a hospital or be a consultant pharmacist. However, one thing I know for certain is that not many pharmacists could have handled that situation as well as I did, and quite frankly, I take much more pride in that than I do in knowing a million pharmacy interactions. If you think about it, any pharmacist can look up any piece of drug information in a book or on lexicomp. However, you can't just read a book to find out how to relate to your patients and diffuse a potentially explosive situation.


pharmacygirl said...

That's why those drop-ship special order things are always a pain. I have the same problem with Botox, and sometimes when I order Enbrel it takes longer than usual to arrive. I always remind my patients to order those products well in advance.

Good job, Mike, on handling this situation. You are right, if a pharmacist is overly confrontational or overly apologetic it can lead to future problems with that patient. Sounds like you know how to handle the difficult situations.

Anonymous said...

You're special. I've always hated that part of the job. I feel like I'm enabling their tantrums. I don't enjoy hand-holding after a certain point. It takes a special personality to diffuse those emotional bombs. Much respect!

Ashley said...

I love this! Its rare that a person has the calming ability that you have. I'm similar to that and while I'm just a technician, I still find myself stepping in front of my loud-mouth-chronic-customer-pissing-off Pharmacy manager to explain situations.

I also BEG for people not to tell him when something goes awry...simply b/c the man will be overly dramatic, cause a scene, and cease all productivity.

It makes me SO happy to see others that are aware of the talen they have and actually use it!