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Paddi Pages E-Zine - Issue #11

Filling in Forms - I absolutely HATE IT! And I'm Not Alone!

Dear Reader,

“Just fill out these forms and hand them back when you’re done…” say the medical receptionists handing you a clipboard with the pen on a string.

I don’t know about you, but I hate when I hear these words, and I get them a lot!

I don’t like them for several reasons:

  • I look at forms and go bug-eyed – literally I find most of them difficult to comprehend and a pain to fill out. Apparently I’m not alone in this regard!
  • Questions on medical forms are often complicated or difficult to understand – ie they’re often poorly written and confusing … and seemingly irrelevant!
  • There’s rarely enough space for the questions that matter, as if I can figure out which ones do matter.
  • I just “KNOW” that no one will look at these forms ever again. I “know” that because no one ever seems to mention that information again, and I’m often repeating the same answers verbally later.
  • It seems that even though I’m on time for my appointment, I only get my place in line after I complete the forms – anyone who comes in while I’m writing gets in before me.
  • Now, because I’m writing so fast, I’m certain my already scratchy hand-writing is doubly illegible! Nobody ever asks for clarification. Nobody seems to care.

(Can you tell I’ve been to the doctor a lot with my kids recently!)

I think completing forms is one of the most obviously frustrating customer service problems that exist in the world today. Big statement, but more so because it’s so obviously unpleasant and yet no one seems to want to do anything about it!

Well Paddi did, and how he fixed the problem is so simple and seamless that it’s admirable and worthy of specific mention.

~~~~~~~~~~~ Back to your Walk Through of Paddi’s practice ~~~~~~~~~~~

You rang the doorbell and were personally greeted by Merilyn, your Care Nurse. Merilyn showed you to your Personal Lounge, and she has just poured you a cup of Special Blend Tea from the lovely Royal Doulton china and silver tea service.

As you chat over your cup of tea, Merilyn is affable and genuinely interested as she asks about you and shares a little about herself (mutual disclosure is another of Paddi’s principles of building trust). You already have a few things in common because of your friend who invited you to the practice.

In the first few minutes Merilyn explains, “As it’s your first visit with us today, as we get to know each other I’ll be asking a few questions about your medical history that might be important for us to know.”

At this stage, Merilyn draws your attention to the laptop computer on the coffee table in front of her that you noticed as you sat down.

“I’ll just take a moment every now and then to type the important information directly into your file. Please don’t think me impolite, but we think it’s better than giving you forms that we’d have to type in later anyway. Is that ok with you?”

“Hmmmmm,” you ponder. You might have to think about that one for a moment!

And that’s Paddi’s answer to the problem of forms. They don’t have them. His Care Nurses have wirelessly networked laptops they carry around with them so they can update client’s records in real time, even in the dental surgery.

It’s perhaps a little detail, but it makes such an impact on anyone who dislikes forms as much as I do. The pain that once was filling out forms has been transformed into a pleasant conversation with a very likable Merilyn over a lovely cup of tea and a fresh baked dental bun.

And it’s a much more efficient use of everyone’s time:

  • Merilyn doesn’t have to find time later to decipher your handwriting – let alone another admin nurse who doesn’t know you at all.
  • The data is recorded accurately the first time, no additional questions later or mistakes from mistyped information.
  • As your Care Nurse, Merilyn is with you your entire visit – in the Personal Lounge and in the dental surgery –you’ll never have to repeat information to Paddi that you’ve already told Merilyn.
  • Hence, you only have to share the information once, enjoyably and accurately, in less time than it would take to write the same history.

And the privacy of the Personal Lounge is so much more appropriate for these somewhat personal conversations than the conventional all-in-one waiting room. As Paddi likes to say, “Treat in public, communicate in private.” (More on this in an upcoming issue.)

People really seem to open up when they’re comfortable and in control, in their personal lounge talking with their Care Nurse. It’s an important part of building faith and trust in Paddi’s expertise.

And because it’s enjoyable, customers are quite happy to spend the time chatting – anyway, they were told in advance that they should set aside 90 minutes for their first appointment, so no one is watching the clock wondering how long all this will take.


For more on the importance of addressing key customer fears and frustrations, see Paddi’s Advanced Manual, Training Customers to Treasure Your Business.


~~~~~~~~~~~ What this means to you? ~~~~~~~~~~~

If you’re in professional practice where new patients fill in forms, you might consider how Paddi’s solution to this key customer frustration might work with your service systems. Paddi has found it a far more simple and effective way of doing things, and the extra 20 minutes or so that Merilyn spends chatting is time and money well invested in the future business relationship.

But even if you’re not in a medical related business, you might consider these points:

  • What key frustrations do your customers experience when doing business with you? (ie what are your businesses “Forms & Clipboards”?)
  • How can you change your service systems to turn those frustrations into enjoyable parts of the service experience? (If for no other reason than your obvious care in addressing an otherwise common problem in a creative way.)
  • How can you integrate your new process into your systems, procedures and checklists so that the problems never arise for your customers again?

Why not make a list of what you think are the most common key service frustrations in your industry and send it to me by e-mail. I’d be interested in comparing notes.

Coming up in the next issue, we’ll visit the one room in Paddi’s practice that has the most impact on how customers perceive his business.

Until then,

Kind regards,


Fletcher Potanin
Managing Director
Solutions Press Business Publishing

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