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I went to donate blood yesterday.  I’ve been donating blood since I was a teenager, so I’ve dealt with many blood donation organizations.  Some, of course, are better than others.  By better, I mean more professional in the way they treat the donors from the beginning to end.

For example, I have been to blood centers where they make you wait forever and a day even if you have appointments, and I have been to places where they know me by name!  I’ve also been to places where the phlebotomists seem unsure of just how poke you (or worse, they make such messes that you end up with bruising for days if not weeks), and I’ve also interacted with those who are not only completely at ease with their job, they engage you in conversations so as to make you feel more comfortable during the ordeal.

In my opinion, blood donation should be treated like any other businesses — customer service is key.  If I were to run a blood donation center, I would put all my staff through customer service training.  In particular, I would make sure:

  1. The check-in personnel politely greet the potential donors. I have been to donor centers where the check-in personnel appeared as if they rather be anywhere but there!  Not only is that bad for business, it’s unprofessional!
  2. They speak proper English. “I ain’t got no time for this” is fine for conversation between friends, but it is subpar at best and downright unprofessional for conversations between the personnel and donors.
  3. They don’t chew gum. Not only is this unprofessional, this crosses the line of being unsanitary!
  4. They don’t discuss donors situation with each other. Ever since I returned from my vacation this past summer, they’ve had to double check my eligibility to donate due to the location I visited while I was on vacation.  However, there’s never a need to broadcast that to everybody in the vicinity while discussing my eligibility!
  5. The phlebotomists are well-trained. Being poked by an 18-gauge needle isn’t fun, but it can be made more palatable if the person doing the poking is experienced.  I actually have very good veins, so I can say this: if you have to poke me more than once, you don’t know what you are doing!  Unfortunately, I’ve been to places where they poked me more than three times, inserted the needle into my vein upside down, and lacerated my vein by puncturing it through and through.  That last one resulted in several bruises around the point of entrance bigger than any of my bike and rollerblade accidents in the past.

By the way, most of what I listed happened either yesterday while I attempted to donate blood or the last time I donated blood with them.  If I were a supervisor at Blood Centers of the Pacific, I would really re-evaluate my mobile units to make sure the level of service they deliver is up to par.  Needless to say, I won’t be returning to BCP again!

Recently, I went to my doctor for an annual check-up.  Yesterday, I received an EOB (explanation of benefit) from my insurance company (Blue Shield of CA) which yielded more questions than answers.  Rather than tying myself to a phone for endless hours to get some answers, I opted to write them via their online form.  Today, I received an email response, and I want to share it with you to show you how ridiculous customer service has become!  First, the email was obviously a canned response because they asked for something that was already referenced in the email.  Second, the information they seek is readily available at their fingertips, yet instead of looking them up, they opted to write to me to ask for them!

The part that really gets me is, there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it short of quitting my job and finding a new one that has an insurance plan with better customer service.  I would love to hear your thoughts on how to make a stance against this kind of poor (non-existing) customer service.  Or if you’ve been on the receiving end of this kind of poor service, please share them too.  Please leave them in the comment section — thanks!

Dear Ceres Chua,

Thank you for your inquiry regarding services provided on August 27.

In order to better assist you, please provide us with the exact date of service (my note: hello? The date was referenced in the previous line) and the name of the physician (my note: this information IS in their database and accessible through a few keystrokes) and we will be happy to assist you further.

Please do not reply to this email as replies to our responses are not monitored. Thank you for using blueshieldca.com to assist you toward a speedy resolution.

If you require additional information please call the member services number on your Blue Shield ID card. We are here to help. (my note: really, now?  Call me a skeptic, but if this email is so utterly not helpful, what could possibly make me believe that you will be helpful when I call?)

Sincerely,
The Blue Shield Customer Service Team