Don’t ask your customers to be prepared unless you can do the same


After my previous doctor decided to relocate out of the city, I needed to locate a new primary care physician. Based on a very positive referral, I selected a doctor at a different practice. Prior to my appointment, I downloaded all the new patient forms from the doctor’s website and filled them out. But when I arrived at the office, they presented me with yet another batch of forms, all of which required me to hand write my name, address and more at the top.

Like any logical person, I asked the receptionist why they couldn’t just use the forms I brought with me. In a condescending tone, she said that the forms I printed already weren’t all of the ones they needed, and insisted that I fill them all out completely. So I wasted another fifteen minutes writing the same info yet again.

This process left me feeling a bit insulted. After all, I followed their instructions and came to the office with all the forms filled out. I did my part, but the doctor’s office didn’t do theirs. Would it have been so hard to just include those extra forms on the website? Of course not. They were just too lazy to be thorough about it. Because of this, I was much more annoyed than if they never asked me to fill out anything online in the first place.

The takeaway here is obvious: if you’re going to ask your customers to complete a task like showing up to an appointment with forms already filled out, make sure you hold up your end of the bargain and give them all the tools they need to get the task done. Otherwise, if they show up prepared and find that you want them to jump through even more hoops that you never told them about, you’ll end up with frustrated and angry customers who can’t understand why you even bothered to ask in the first place.