I literally just got off the phone with OmniPod/Insulet as I’m writing this post.
I jumped on the computer right away because I was so impressed with the speediness of their customer support team.
Normally, I only call customer support to report the occasional pod failure. I had my first one of the year over the weekend, so I made some time during the week to give them a call and tell them about it.
I’m used to being hit with all kinds of questions when I call customer support: Where were you wearing the pod? What were you doing when it failed? How long were you wearing it for? What kind of insulin were you using in it? What’s your date of birth/shipping address/Social Security Number? (Okay, they don’t ask about that last one, but they need so much information from me that they might as well get that, too!)
This time, after I verified my shipping address, I was simply asked to rattle off the alarm code that triggered this pod failure, and state approximately how long I wore the pod.
Just a couple easy questions that I could answer straightaway because I had my PDM on hand (I always do when calling Insulet because 9 times out of 10, they’ll need information from it). The rep I spoke to on the phone just had one final question for me: Did I mind ground shipping for the replacement they were going to send to me, or did I need them to overnight it?
I let her know that standard shipping was just fine, and then I felt compelled to tell her that I was appreciative of her swift solution and professionalism. She thanked me and also clued me into the fact that Insulet’s worked hard to streamline the number and type of questions asked when customers call in, which made someone like me doubly happy.
I thanked her for her help again before hanging up the phone. Then I noticed: The length of our phone call was just under 5 minutes. It takes me a bit longer than that, on average, to apply a new pod.
In 5 minutes flat, a replacement pod was on its way to this satisfied customer. It’s nice to know that when pod failures happen – they do, and they will happen again – it’ll be much easier going forward to get them replaced.
It started with the emails…then progressed to phone calls.
Voicemail messages were left and I tried calling back. No answer.
Emails were sent (yes, multiple) and still…no answer.
Am I describing a creepy, stalker-y movie plot OR my experience with Dexcom customer service???
If you guessed the latter, then ding-ding-ding, you’re right! (Sorry if you’re disappointed it’s not the former, this blog post is most definitely not about to take a When a Stranger Calls type of turn.)
No fewer than five Dexcom representatives have tried to contact me in the last month and up until a few days ago, I had no freakin’ clue why.
Let’s go back to the emails: I got THREE that said something along the following lines:
We have a new update regarding your pending Dexcom order. We have attempted to reach you but were unsuccessful. Please call me or respond to this email…
I haven’t placed a Dexcom order since the year began because 1) I wasn’t eligible to order new supplies yet and 2) I have enough sensors and a brand-new transmitter that will tide me over for the next two months at least. So I really didn’t understand why my order was already pending and, more importantly, why the “new update” wasn’t just written out in the email.
So I responded to the first two emails that I received that were like this, and was annoyed when nobody ever replied. But then I got an email about a reimbursement that really sent me into a tailspin. What reimbursement?!
I called Dexcom myself and spoke to a real, actual human being who told me that the reason why Dexcom reps were reaching out is because they did my annual review of insurance benefits and determined that I was eligible to reorder my supplies. Oh! I explained to the rep that that made sense to me, and now I understood why they were trying to get in touch with me…but what was this reimbursement business?
Unfortunately, she couldn’t tell me and instead informed me that I’d have to call the Dexcom billing department. This irked me, but I accepted it and began to wonder whether maybe the email was simply another notification that I could go ahead and reorder my supplies. I decided that I wouldn’t give Dexcom a call back, making the assumption that they were done with me.
Boy oh boy, was I wrong!
One night, Dexcom called my cell phone, and then my parents’ home phone (they must have it stored in their records from when I lived there), and then EMAILED ME AGAIN saying that they have an update on my pending order. By this point in time, I was furious. I tried calling back the TWO DIFFERENT NUMBERS for TWO DIFFERENT REPS and one line never even rang, while the other one went straight to voicemail (I couldn’t even leave a message because the inbox was full). I vowed to call back Dexcom customer service the next day to get to the bottom of this, once and for all.
When I called, I explained the situation – how I’ve received a handful of phone calls and emails that I’ve tried to reply to but never got answers. I also detailed how I’d spoken with a company rep in the last week and I thought I made it clear to her that I take care of my own Dexcom ordering using their online system, and that I don’t need a rep to walk me through the process. It was a longer-than-it-should’ve-been phone call because I felt like the rep wasn’t really listening to me: She kept talking over me and couldn’t seem to grasp that I’m perfectly capable of handling reorders on my own. Finally, things got resolved in the end when she told me that she just emailed my account representative and informed him that I can handle my reorder in my own time, and that should he need to talk to me, please get in touch with me as soon as possible.
Listen, y’all – I love my Dexcom CGM. It’s one of the first diabetes devices that I wore and it revolutionized diabetes care for me. I also appreciate Dexcom employees for their hard work, and as someone who used to do customer service over the phone, I seriously value the amount of time and energy that it takes to deal with dozens of customers each week and try to walk each of them through a satisfying solution. So the point of this blog post is to not dis a company that I like, but merely to point out that there are clearly some flaws in the customer communication system.
I mean…going back to my earlier point, if Dexcom knew what the “update” was, why didn’t they specify it in the email or the voicemail message?
I’m not sure I’ll ever know the answer to that, but I do know this and I’m making a mental note of it now: Remember that next January, an insurance benefits check will be completed by Dexcom and I’ll probably be contacted about it – even if they don’t tell me that’s why they’re trying to get in touch, at least I’ll now have a sense as to what it’s about the next time around.
The other day, I nearly LOST IT on the phone with an Insulet representative.
I’m not proud of it, but I also was not sure why this particular phone call was taking so long.
I was calling in regards to a pod failure – something I’ve had to call and report many times before, so I’ve become very familiar with how the usual phone call goes:
Me: Hi, I’m calling to report a pod failure.
Insulet Representative: Okay, could I have your first and last name, date of birth, and shipping address?
*I provide the information.*
Insulet Rep.: Thank you for verifying your information. Could you please tell me about the pod failure incident?
*I explain what happened with the pod failure. The rep will ask me a series of follow-up questions, such as where was I wearing the pod? How long was I wearing it before the failure? Did I notice anything unusual about the pod activation? Did I need to seek medical assistance for the pod failure? Typically, this is the list of questions I’m asked, and then I finish my call with the rep.*
Insulet Rep.: We’ll be sending you a replacement pod. We will send it via standard shipping, meaning it will arrive in 7-10 business days. Is that okay with you?
Me: Yes, thank you.
*And then after exchanging pleasantries, the call is over. Standard running time on the phone is about 6-7 minutes. No big deal at all.*
So imagine my surprise, and growing ire, when a phone call that should’ve only lasted a few minutes stretched just beyond 20 minutes.
I still don’t really know why it lasted so long. The agent I spoke with was asking me WAYYYY to many follow-up questions regarding the pod failure, and what made it especially irritating was that I’d already explained every single detail surrounding the whole incident. It was like she was questioning my reporting abilities. Either that or she was really slow with taking notes, and maybe I was talking too fast for her? Who knows. All I knew was that I was calling in the middle of my workday, and I had to get this wrapped up ASAP so I could turn my full attention back to my work.
That said, it was difficult to stay patient, and I probably slipped up toward the end of the call. Actually, I totally slipped up, because my answers to her questions became very curt in my attempt to expedite the call…which didn’t work, by the way.
I felt a tinge of guilt for my brusqueness. After all, I used to be a customer service representative who spoke with her fair share of irate customers. I knew it would be appreciated if I at least said a sincere thank you before hanging up. So I did, and even though I wasn’t exactly proud of myself for losing my cool, I was glad that I could turn my attitude around in the end.
It’s kind of a metaphor for how I’m trying to handle my diabetes these days…allow myself to feel how I want to feel, but then go about handling whatever situation is in my way using a level head. Because that’s how to make things happen, IMHO.
When it comes to obtaining my diabetes supplies – life-saving pieces of medical equipment – I’ve discovered that it’s not a simple process. It’s not exactly like purchasing something on Amazon with a single click. Rather, it’s a convoluted, head-scratching, infuriatingly long procedure that apparently involves multiple calls to a variety of companies.
As of this writing, it took approximately 4 calls to my endocrinologist’s office, 12-14 calls to Insulet (the maker of my OmniPod insulin pump), 6 or 7 calls to Dexcom (for my CGM supplies), 2 calls to my health insurance provider, and 1 call to Express Scripts just to get everything all straightened away. These calls took place over the course of 2.5 months, and as they grew in frequency, so did my overall frustration and confusion.
The biggest headache was definitely caused by the lack of effective communication between Insulet and my endocrinologist’s office. I needed to get a new PDM, and Insulet’s job was to contact my doctor’s office and get a letter of medical necessity in order to get a PDM shipped out to me. Simple, right?
Far from it. About a week after I placed the order for the new PDM, I got an email from Insulet saying that my doctor’s office had failed to return their faxes. I was advised to contact them to determine the delay. When I did, I spoke with a receptionist who, despite my clear explanation of the issue, misunderstood what I was asking for and left me a voicemail to say that she didn’t know what Insulet was talking about seeing as their information showed that I had received a shipment from them. (For whatever reason, she thought I needed more pods, which I did have delivered around the same time that all of this was going on.)
After several more back-and-forth phone calls, I cracked the case wide open: Insulet had the wrong contact information for my doctor. While my endocrinologist hasn’t changed in about a decade, her office location has, and Insulet still had the old one. I felt like an idiot for not realizing this sooner, but then again…why was I the one who was jumping through so many hoops and making so many contact attempts in order to figure out what the hold-up was? It was absolutely ridiculous, but I certainly felt relieved – and satisfied – to have personally solved the mystery.
I wish I could say I had a better experience with Dexcom, but that proved to be similarly headache-inducing. I thought that I was set to receive my supplies after I’d signed a payment plan for a 90-day supply of sensors and transmitters, but when they didn’t show up after a month of waiting, I knew something was wrong. I called Dexcom and discovered that the order, for reasons unknown, just didn’t process, so I had to sign a brand-new payment plan and had my case assigned to a different customer service rep. I was pretty pissed off by the lack of communication, but the one silver lining was that I’d already managed to pay my deductible in full (ha, no surprises there), so my Dexcom supply order would cost me less. Again, it was unbelievable that I never got an update from the company regarding my order’s status, but I did feel a sting of pride in myself for getting it all worked out on my own.
I don’t know why everything about this process is so agonizing. But what I do know for sure is that it seems that the only person I can count on to get my supplies ordered properly, in the end, is myself.