until this week, i hadn’t been to a doctor’s office in about seven years. this week, i was reminded why that was the case.

coughs and sniffles and runny noses are just part and parcel of wintertime. our bodies are made to work that way. bad things get in, and our bodies work to clean up the mess, generally by causing some other kind of mess, and then a short time later we’re back and fully fit again. it’s usually never that serious aside from a few key symptoms, so knowing the warning signs, and knowing my own body well enough, i decided a trip to see the doctor was finally necessary.

i got there late in the day and was immediately ushered back into ‘the littler waiting room’ as seinfeld famously joked about. it was there i waited for two and a half hours. with the curtain left open, i could see all the other patients coming and going. i saw doctors pacing past my room, assistants pacing past my room—even the assistant who sat me down hours before and said “the doctor will be with you shortly.”

while the wait was probably for the lab and the strep cultures they were testing for, never once was that information passed along. never once did a doctor or assistant passing by my open room for the fourth, fifth, or even sixth time ask if i was comfortable, or if i would like a drink of water, or if the supply of tissues as sufficient (being there for so long, i was running dangerously low on kleenex). i was just one more patient in a long line of patients they had seen that day.

when i finally saw the doctor, i was examined for perhaps three minutes in total—the longest duration of which the doctor was listening for mucus in my lungs. her directions were to keep doing what i was doing. take over the counter cold medicine and drink juices and, if i wanted, add an antihistamine to my drug cocktail.

two and a half hours of waiting the the little waiting room with no human interaction at all? only a handful of minutes with an actual doctor? yep. i remember why i haven’t been to see a doctor in quite some time.

if your organization is designed for, and operates in, a marketplace that’s intended to help people and treat customers, then start with the customer. always. you can never to go wrong when you put the needs of your customer first.