Show bad clients the door

Show bad clients the door

May 01, 2006

The other day i was talking to one of my clients. She was very upset. One of her receptionists had come to her, also very upset. This receptionist was dealing with a client who was also very upset—it was one of those days. The long-term client, who owned a number of pets, came in without an appointment. She was complaining that her dog just wasn't acting right, and she wanted the doctor to see her dog immediately.

The receptionist offered the client the option of dropping the dog off so the doctor could examine the pet as soon as possible—but the client would have none of that. The client wanted to see the doctor immediately: "Oh, she always sees me. Just tell her I'm here."

The receptionist went to the doctor, and the doctor said, "Oh, Mrs. Trouble. She's always doing this. Tell her I'm in surgery and ask her to leave the dog." The receptionist told this to Mrs. Trouble, who wasn't happy and declared that she'd wait until the doctor was out of surgery.

Once again, the receptionist went back and spoke to the doctor about Mrs. Trouble. The doctor said she'd have to wait.

Every five minutes Mrs. Trouble gave the receptionist a hard time and asked if the doctor was out of surgery yet. Finally the client became very agitated and said if the doctor wouldn't see her she'd find another one who would.

At this point the doctor walked into the reception area and, in front of the receptionist, apologized to the client. She said, "I didn't know it was you Mrs. Trouble. If I had, I would've been up here sooner. The receptionist didn't tell me you were here." With that, they proceeded into the exam room. When the client came out, she gave the receptionist an I-told-you-so look and said, "Next time, tell the doctor I'm here." The receptionist was livid!

Later that day, she approached the veterinarian, asking why she'd lied and hadn't stood up to the client and backed her up. The doctor explained this was a "good" client who'd been with the practice for years and spent substantial money there. She didn't wish to lose the client. "Don't worry about what I said. I was only trying to make the client happy. You're a great receptionist."

After the discussion the receptionist turned in her notice. The doctor, who was now on the phone with me, didn't understand why the receptionist quit.

We talked about several issues: backing up your receptionists and being honest—to name two. But the other big discussion centered on clients, specifically when does one cross the line, and when is it appropriate to "fire" a client?

Who to fire

Termination of the doctor/client relationship
Now, you know as well as I do that the words "fire" and "client" are seldom used in the same sentence. Normally you try to acquire more clients and bond them to your practice. But there are times when a client is just more trouble than he or she is worth and needs to be fired. Here are a few examples of these situations and advice on how to actually let that client go.