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Tale of functional and dysfunctional medicine reveals abysmal customer service gaps


In search of a qualified functional medicine specialist with whom I could partner to improve my health, I discovered a huge abyss of customer service attitudes.

The first candidate lost the opportunity to serve me after saying the doc didn’t offer short, complimentary meet-and-greets to determine if a positive connection exists. Oh, and I would have to pay $450 for an initial consultation to find out.

The second candidate offered a free 15-minute meet-and-greet via Zoom. We connected perfectly, I feel comfortable and I trust him. My initial $180 consultation occurs this Thursday.

This is a tale of two totally different attitudes that reveal the inability or unwillingness of companies in certain industries to offer top-notch customer service.

Healthcare is renowned for practitioners following the pay-to-play model. I have refused to work with a variety of docs who required an office visit fee to meet me. Obviously Dysfunctional Candidate #1 falls into this category.

In contrast, my current primary care doc is wonderful. I’ve never had better care and I’m completely satisfied. Not surprisingly, she was very willing to meet before the meter started running.

In the age of COVID, one would think that healthcare practitioners would revisit their policies and attitudes. With huge budgetary pressures, many people who might have signed up before everything happened are less likely to do so now. Caring and compassion, and being willing to offer terms they can meet, can to a long way to bridge the gap.

The second doc, to my way of thinking, already offered a very affordable, fair model before COVID and is continuing to serve people in this way. The first doc evidently wants people to serve him—basically saying, “Take it or leave it.” They either don’t need or don’t want new clients, and this is their way of conveying the message.

Even if the first candidate shows stellar reviews and has good word-of-mouth, this alone likely will eventually not save their day.

In part, here’s why:

As a result of COVID, customers/clients will become more savvy and discerning about the businesses they patronize. A customer service attitude that shows no desire to serve, just sell, will become a deal-breaker. Gone will be the days when healthcare practitioners, in particular, can act like arrogant, presumptuous mini-gods and continue to show a profitable balance sheet.

Prospective customers will continue to up their compare-and-contrast customer service models. In light of this comparison, it’s likely that the second functional medicine doc will run circles around the first. As part of this effort, of course, needs to be an apples-to-apples comparison to ensure that providers offering top-notch customer service also deliver top-notch healthcare solutions.

As a practical matter, the second doc comes with an excellent pedigree—a well-established, long-time practice endorsed by two of my closest trusted advisors. And he and his staff have shown compassion, caring and a stellar bedside manner—which is what healthcare should be all about.


Have you gone out of your way to provide more compassionate and caring customer service during the COVID-19 crisis? If so, those efforts can become a cornerstone of customer loyalty and buying. In addition to those who already know, tell the rest of the world about it! This is a case where prior “good acts” can stoke the fires of ongoing sales and word-of-mouth kudos. But, you gotta let everyone know first. One of the most credible and compelling ways to do that is to develop thought leadership articles, blogposts, social media content, podcasts, and even short videos to address what you did—and hopefully are still doing—to show your appreciation of and respect for those who keep you in business.

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Mark Lusky | 303.621.6136 |

Veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience. Author of A Wandering Wondering Jew… and co-author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Leverage. Mark (aka The Happy Curmudgeon) is the owner of a Denver-based marketing communications firm.

One reply on “Tale of functional and dysfunctional medicine reveals abysmal customer service gaps”

I have always thought that medical service is a “take it or leave it proposition” in this country. It is the only time that you don’t have a price given for services. Of course it would have to be an estimate because without a crystal ball, it isn’t possible to know exactly what is wrong, but even auto mechanics give an estimate before starting work.

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