being watched while you sleep (marketing adjacent)

Do you ever go through your own sales or marketing process?

I mean, as if you were a customer? Do you make it a point to periodically sign up for something and go through the whole shabang to see what (if anything) breaks?

There’s tremendous value in experiencing what your customers experience, from time to time.

That much became clear to me earlier this week when I made (what I thought was) a simple doctor’s appointment.

We’re about to get personal here… cover your eyes if you’re feeling sensitive to other people’s medical diagnoses.

I have sleep apnea. I’ve been diagnosed before, but since I constantly got into fights with my CPAP machine and my prior doctors didn’t really do much beyond repeat, “well you gotta get used to it” when I told them about not sleeping more than 2 hours a night for a week.

Unsurprisingly, I stopped therapy. I was sleeping way worse WITH the treatment than without.

Until now.

Maybe it’s allergies or the ‘rona or sheer existential crisis… but whatever the root cause I’ve been sleeping more and getting less rest.

So I contacted a local sleep clinic last week to start the treatment process again.

And then realized this week I hadn’t heard back, so I contacted them again.

And then the process REALLY broke.

The office manager emailed me, asking me to call.

I was annoyed, because most of this shit can be handled by email these days, but whatever… I called.

She asked me the standard stuff, name, contact info, insurance, etc. She asked if I’d be coming into the office or doing a virtual appointment, and then she told me she’d be sending the “patient portal”, with all the info I needed to prepare for my appointment.

Annoying, but taken care of… or so I thought.

24 hours later, no patient portal.

So I get in touch again and ask for that.

I get the portal link, fill out ALL THE SAME INFO SHE COLLECTED FROM ME ON THE PHONE (making the phone call EXTRA special annoying), and then get even more confused…

Because the patient portal is telling me to pack an overnight bag, down to a list of what I’ll need to bring for my sleep study. They also provide a handy list of what they supply (bathrooms, beverages, and morning muffins, if you’re curious).

I think… wow that was fast. From zero to sleep study in a week? OK cool, at least we’re taking care of it.

Day of the appointment arrives, and I realize – they want me to come in at 4 for an overnight study. They don’t mention evening meals anywhere on their site. So I reach out and ask if I need to bring a sandwich.

Office manager tells me no, this is just a consultation.

Which makes WAY more sense than going from “hey I just met you” to “hop in this bed I’ll be watching while you sleep”. 

The kicker – she writes back to apologize for the confusion with the patient portal… THEN ASKS ME IF I’M COMING INTO THE OFFICE OR DOING A VIRTUAL APPOINTMENT.

For those of you keeping track, I’ve essentially provided every piece of info she’s asked me for twice, been set up to expect the wrong appointment, and at this point I was seriously starting to question my decision to be treated at this particular clinic.

Since I was only a few hours away from the appointment, I decided to go.


Because I really like the doctor – he listened to me.

And the other office manager was really clear on next steps and what the overall process looks like once insurance approves the study.

Now all that’s left is to wait for the insurance OK and at some point in the near future I’ll be strapped to lord-knows-what and watched while I sleep… which is only mildly creepy.

Here’s hoping the REALLY crazy dreams don’t kick in during the study.

Why am I telling you about my medical diagnosis like some sort of crazy way-too-personal aunt?

Because a doctor’s office is still a business.

And onboarding is part of the client experience, which means it’s part of your marketing.

If you’re not thinking through the client experience, then all the hard work you put in just to get them through the front door has been for nothing. Might as well throw that cash down the drain.

If I had to judge the skill, capability, and trustworthiness of this business based on my experience to date, they’d get a big fat F.

The only reason I actually kept the appointment was because of the $75 cancellation fee with less than 24 hours’ notice.

If there’s anything I’m LESS a fan of than being dicked around by office managers, it’s paying someone to do nothing.

I have slightly higher hopes now that I’ve met the doctor… but I’m still coming into this whole experience as a skeptic, ready to find every little flaw and use it to justify why I should cut ties and find another provider. It’s more work for me, but priceless when it comes to my confidence and the ability to LITERALLY sleep at night.

All of this could be prevented if every once in awhile, someone in the office went through the new patient intake process from start to finish, as if they were completely new to this.

It’s not easy to set aside your own bias while doing this – so if that’s a challenge, you might consider hiring a consultant or customer experience (CX) expert to audit your onboarding. 

Poke holes in your own process. Look for redundancies. Ask yourself if everything is simple, straightforward, and clear. Fix or cut anything that doesn’t make sense.

Be RUTHLESS in your judgment, because your (future ex) customers will be ruthless in theirs.



If you’re an aspiring freelancer who’s working up the courage to leave the day job… good news! I’m sharing all the things I WISH I’d known before making the leap so that hopefully your journey goes a little more smoothly than mine.

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