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Rule Number Two: Be courteous, especially when you’re frustrated.

One of my jobs is to gather records on our clients. This entails ordering them, paying the copy fees, and following up with the providers (because we all know how forgetful they can be sometimes). I usually don’t have a problem with the process. Sure I wish I didn’t have to call people to remind them to send the records out (especially after I’ve paid them) and I wish they would bill me instead of needing to be paid in advance, but overall, it works itself out in about eight weeks.
And then there are those that don’t.

There are those who say “it’s in the mail,” and two weeks later I have to call again because I STILL haven’t received them. There are the ones where the person processing the request is no longer working there. And of course there are the ones where you have to fax a copy of the request three times to three different people because every time you call the person you spoke with before is out of the office (that was a fun week).

Then there is Healthcare Recoveries, who, granted, does a lot of work. They are responsible for third party billing at Kaiser. Yeah, all the Kaisers. Now, they do have divisions… by state. So, still a lot of work for these people. They ask that you give them sixty days from the request date to receive the billing. I’m thinking, that’s fine, eight weeks is my normal turnover. And then of course there’s a problem with your request, they don’t tell you that though, until you call up eight weeks later looking for your records. Once you give them the information they want, they get another sixty days to process the request. Okay. Barring any other disasters, you get your records sixty days later, but things go wrong all the time, and it’s not very likely. At this moment in time I requested a bill from HR in January that I still haven’t received.

So my advice when dealing with frustrating custodians:
Smile when you talk to them on the phone.
Don’t call them liars (even though they are), tell them you understood something else and say why you thought that.
Try to be positive and “on their side.”
Try to get them on your side, explain why you need the records (ie: settlement, mediation, liens). Tell them your boss will fire you if you don’t have them by next week if you think it will help (CRY if you have to).
Tell them that you appreciate the hard work they do.

Breathe deep, be nice and try to bare it. More likely than not, you will have to deal with these people again if they are local. Don’t make enemies of the custodians, they can make your life hell. If you start to feel like you’re about to snap- get off the phone, DON’T take it out on them (even if it’s their fault). And if you really can’t stand it anymore, go to the copy room, rant and rave to your coworkers (trust me, they’ll sympathize) and then get back on the phone and call the next person, you may get lucky.

How do you deal with people who frustrate you?

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