Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Follow-up at BCBS of Rhode Island

You might remember my post in August, with Nancy Thomas, President of Tapestry Communications, reporting some unpleasant customer experiences at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island.  Well, I am pleased to post this follow-up from Nancy, and I join in appreciation to her and to the folks in the company who made a difference:


My mother liked to write down quotes and post them - on the mirror, on the door of my room, inside a book, etc.  Her two favorites, which have stayed with me a lifetime, were:

"Your brain is a muscle.  If you don't use it, you lose it." 
"The squeaky wheel gets the grease."

My own children have benefitted by the first one many times, but the 2nd one always seemed to need explanation.  Needed example. 

While its origins are not known for certain, according to Wikipedia, the phrase is most often attributed to Josh Billings, an American humorist in 1870, from his poem, "The Kicker":
I hate to be a kicker,
I always long for peace,
But the wheel that does the squeaking,
Is the one that gets the grease.

In any case, you will remember my "squeakiness" about my visit to brand new Blue Cross skyscraper in Providence.  We affectionately call it Xanadu.  I wrote about it and actually was annoyingly squeaked enough to take photos showing the disregard for those of us who have to visit the building to make a payment, or deal with an incorrect bill or charge.  You'll recall that you cannot "go upstairs for an appointment" so you stand in groups waiting the availability of the two customer service reps, who will try to rectify our problems once we reach their counter.  Before that time, upwards of an hour or more, we would be standing in wait - no chairs, no tables to write on....with thoughts about our cars being towed in the downtown or parking charges accruing. We shifted from one foot to the other - young, old, parents with children, children with elderly parents.

The other day, yes, there I was again!  Thank you to Obamacare for keeping my college student daughter on my policy, but she had obtained her very own now and we needed to remove her, so back for a visit I would go. 

I walked in and something seemed oddly different.  I heard what sounded like a radio behind me. I turned and saw a mounted flat screen television with CNN news echoing in the austere lobby.  I saw chairs and every one of them had someone in it.  I started to smile.  Another turn and now, directly in front of me was a long work table with four or five chairs on one side of it and people seated and writing....I guessed they were letters of appeal which beforehand you would write out on a legal pad using the wall or one's bent leg for a hard surface. 

Another smile.  Then, an audible chuckle.  I actually experienced a moment of squeaky wheel glee!  I left the lobby with uncharacteristic cheer, vowing to come back with "secret" camera in hand. 

I've included photos for you to see - taken at the beginning of the month...alas, the long writing table is gone, but now there is valet parking!  And - with Blue Cross BLUE cones marking the way! Love that branding!

Do you think the blog entry made a difference?  Were 'we' the grease?  Yes, I squeaked and you replied, then twitter chimed in, then Facebook, then a few other blogs commented on it, and then a Blue Cross "anonymous" showed up to respond, too.  Anonymous took this to heart.  Anonymous probably was pretty powerful.  Anonymous didn't grind it his/her heels but created change.  And pretty quickly, too....

So, for my daughter and for others who think change just can't happen, or their voice just isn't being heard, try a little squeak.  Use your blog (or someone else's), tweet a little tweet, write a meandering post, or two.  Make a little noise. 

With kudos to BCBS's "anonymous" and a nostalgic tip of the hat to my mom, who was wise, indeed, let me say, there is power in your voice, in your words. Sometimes people listen and sometimes corporate walls hear the reasonable squeak and respond. And I have an example for my children that in this large world of megasystems, do not be afraid to gently nudge that wheel, even if it seems up hill all the way....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

All too often wheels don't want to squeak for fear of being thought a whiney wheel, but consider that the wheel that isn't squeaking not only doesn't get the grease, it doesn't even get noticed.