Saturday, March 31, 2007

Customer service done right

i've never hesitated to write about problems I've had with customer service from different companies. The problems with my insurance provider and Weight Watchers have taken center stage lately. This is why I want to write about good customer service. It needs attention. Most of my career has been spent in sales and customer service. I have high standards for myself in providing goods and services, and I know what it takes to meet those standards. It's not always easy, and that's why I want to give people a chance to make things right and give them credit when they do.

Weight Watchers came through. I'm sure by now that just about everybody at their regional office is absolutely sick of me, and I don't blame them. This was important to me. I felt like I'd met my end of the agreement with my insurance provider and wanted them to meet theirs. Since we're talking Tenncare, a state and federally funded insurance program for Tennesseans who cannot obtain other insurance, I expected bureaucracy and red tape. I actually found very little, and the people at Weight Watchers helped me track the documentation showing where the problem laid.

The authorization period for this program is twelve weeks. During those insurance covered weeks, Tenncare subscribers must attend at least ten meetings and lose a minimum of five pounds. That strikes me as more than fair. Why should insurance cover a program if the person isn't going to work it? In my first twelve weeks, I lost over 30 pounds and didn't miss a meeting. Because there is a backlog of people trying to get approval, it can take several weeks to get authorizations, and there was a lag of one week between the first authorized period and my second. I attended that week in the gap and used a half price coupon I'd earned for losing 20 pounds to pay for it. They started my second membership book that week showing only the twelve week period of pre-approval in it. That left eleven weeks to be filled in. In the next weeks, I missed one week because of the flu and another because of snow. I kept up the weight loss, and when my booklet was filled, I called for another re-authorization. There was the problem. My authorization period lasted one week longer than my book showed, and I didn't attend the final week, thinking that it wasn't covered. That was the absence that disqualified me from coverage.

I spoke several times with Weight Watchers' Tenncare coordinator, and I wish everybody who dealt with the public had her patience and good manners. When she and I still couldn't get it resolved, I called the regional manager. We had several rounds of phone tag, because I'm not the easiest person to catch. Eventually, she and I tracked my attendance and found the problem. She called me Thursday afternoon with my authorization number and asked that I go to that night's meeting. Since that is my usual night, I was thrilled. When I got there, my authorization didn't show up in the computer, and I was grinding my teeth again.

what matters is that
Weight Watchers
got this problem
worked out
The next day, I called her again, and it was straightened out. I made it to the last meeting of the week this morning, where I was in the system and got to receive a refrigerator magnet for losing 50 pounds. It's nice to have that reminder of what I've accomplished on the door to temptation. Oh, I did register a small gain since Thursday, but I see that as just part of the daily fluctuations that are to be expected in any body, and I'm not logging it. What will matter is what my next weekly weigh in registers. How I eat and exercise between now and then matters more than the number on the scale.

People make mistakes. That's just life. We're all human, and if you've ever weighed in at a Weight Watchers meeting, you know that's a hectic time for the employees there. These were little, understandable errors, and I made a mistake of my own in not tracking my coverage period better. I've got the dates for my third round written on the cover of my membership booklet to make sure I don't repeat it. What matters is that Weight Watchers got this worked out, and I'm back in meetings.

I also plan on having a job with Weight Watchers next year after I reach my goal weight. The regional manager and I have already discussed it. She brought it up, not me, and I'm looking forward to it. I really believe I'm going to get to a healthy weight, because I've already made changes in my life that now feel right and natural, and I know that more are coming. I like to think that blogging about my weight loss journey might be helpful to others now, and I think I'm going to be a heck of a Weight Watchers instructor after I hit goal.

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Blogger Lisa :-] said...

No doubt in my mind that you will make a great meeting leader. Your creativity, sales skills and empathy will put you head and shoulders above other leaders.

March 31, 2007 11:32 PM  
Blogger sunflowerkat said...

I know you'll be an incredible Weight Watchers leader. No doubt about it!

April 02, 2007 6:38 AM  
Anonymous said...

Good communication with the people we deal with is so important, that it could actually make or ruin our day. A simple misunderstanding about an issue or an unfulfilled request can be a headache. Whether we like it or not, the kind of customer service provided will make an impact on the customer’s perception about the whole company as well.

July 02, 2012 10:09 AM  

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