Process Automation Gone Wrong. A Cautionary Tale…


It began as a shoulder ache.

Now I have a headache. 

And it’s all because of process automation gone wrong.

I woke Monday morning – after a restless, painful night – with a sore shoulder. The pain had spread down my forearm,  to my hand. 

I knew these symptoms. I’d had them before – 15 years ago. That led to surgery for a torn rotator cuff and labrum. 

Sleep-deprived and cranky, I visited the website of the orthopedist who operated on my shoulder. 

I filled out the looonnnggg appointment request form, pressed submit, and waited…

…and waited…

…and WAITED.

No email acknowledging my submission. 

No phone call from the doctor’s office. 


Maybe I didn’t submit the form properly, I thought. 

(Confusing. Frustrating. Stressful.)

Monday came and went. 

Same with Tuesday. 

On Wednesday morning, I tried the old fashioned way. I picked up the phone. 

The automated “attendant” answered after one ring. 

I pressed 1…

…then 3…

…then 2…


…I was on hold. 

Minute after minute with the automated attendant telling me “your call is important to us.” 

(Yeah, right!)

After 10 minutes on hold, the automated attendant asked me to leave a message. 

I did. 

And – miracle of miracles! – someone called back 20 minutes later. 

Finally, I booked the appointment. 

Three hours later, I received an email from the automated intake system.

But, get this…

The email wasn’t confirming the appointment I booked.

It was confirming the appointment request I submitted two days earlier. 

Subject line: “We’ve received your appointment request!” 

The email said: “Thank you for submitting your appointment request…We have received your request and are working on it. A practice representative will contact you within 3 business days to schedule your appointment.” 

You’re “working on it?” 

What are you working on? 

I imagine the “practice representative” working on…


…How to pick up the phone and dial it…?

…How to open the booking calendar on their computer…?

You’re not “working on it.” 

Your robotic process has been programmed to make me wait.

For what reason? I have no idea.  

Your robots take more than two days to acknowledge my appointment request and up to three days to contact me. 

Meanwhile, the schedule-by-phone system doesn’t sync with the online system. 

(Confusing. Frustrating. Stressful.)

I looked up the process automation company my doctor uses. The website says this: 

“Short staffed? Hire (us). With automated tools for intake, access, payments and more, we help you deliver the modern experience patients expect.” 

Ahhhh…the MODERN experience. 

The experience patients expect. 

Yeah, I guess this is the experience I EXPECT. But it’s not the experience I desire.

Here’s the thing about automation:

It always starts with the VENDOR’s desire to get more done with less effort (“Short staffed? Hire (us).”)

But, too often, it does NOT deliver the experience prospects and clients desire. 

Less friction for the vendor. More friction for the prospect and client. 

It happens at the doctor’s office.

Is it happening in your business? Important question. Work on that. 

I have nothing against automation. I automate many processes in my business.

I couldn’t scale my business without automation. 

But reducing process friction for myself doesn’t mean I have to create MORE friction for my prospects and clients. 

What do your prospects and clients desire? That’s the first question to ask and answer.

If you understand their desires and deliver…

…your marketing will be better. 

Your automated processes will be better. 

Your business will be better. 

p.s. I help coaches, consultants, and business leaders discover and deliver powerful stories that captivate prospects and inspire them to act. Whenever you're ready, here are several ways I can help you become a storytelling stand-out so you'll land more clients without pitching and prodding:

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Tom Ruwitch

Tom Ruwitch is the founder and CEO of Story Power Marketing. For more than 30 years, he has helped businesses grow by delivering powerful stories using a variety of different media.