The Value of the Intangible

I'm pleased to introduce Marilyn Suttle, as my first 'guest blogger'! Marilyn is a work/life success coach and coauthor of Who’s Your Gladys? How to Turn Even the Most Difficult Customer into Your Biggest Fan Custom Learning Systems and Sky Lakes Medical Center’s culture change success is featured in her book. For more information, visit www.WhosYourGladys.com or preorder your book at your favorite online book store.

Every couple of years, I have a client who brings me back to run a personal development program for her staff. Since I don’t see the client often, I always reference a file I keep on my computer to help me remember details about the company and my contacts there. About six years ago, on a crisp fall day, I brought in a large bowl of caramels to place at the registration table for participants to enjoy. My client made a bee-line for the caramels saying, “These are my favorite candies.” At the end of the training, I asked her if she’d like to keep the handful of left-over caramels. With a big smile, she whisked them into her bag.

What did I do when I got back to my office? I put a note in her file that said, “Kate loves caramels.” I knew it would be unlikely that I’d remember that a year or two later. By typing her preference in her file, it’s easier for me to delight my customer by bringing caramels every time I train there. It’s a small thing, but I’m pretty sure that from the time she calls me to set up a training until the time I show up, she looks forward to the caramels. It’s a small thing, but it makes a difference…or does it?

What would really happen if I didn’t bring the caramels?

What if you didn’t greet the next patient who walks through your doors with eye contact and a smile within five seconds of their arrival?

What would really happen if you simply said, ‘Goodbye’ when a patient leaves the room without asking, “How can we make your experience with us even better next time?”

What would really happen? Well, probably nothing…but that isn’t good news.

Even if your hospital has an outstanding reputation for service, it’s easy to slip out of a service excellence mindset when you’re under a time-crunch or dealing with the pressures of a downsized staff with a full-sized workload. You let one thing slip, and nothing seems to change, so it becomes easier to let it slip the next time. Before you know it, that intangible something that keeps patient satisfaction scores high is missing. By the time you realize it, some of your patients and their referrals may be missing, too.

When you’re dealing with urgent matters like ordering supplies or getting scheduling issues resolved, the finer nuances of customer service may seem less important. How do you measure the impact of pleasing a patient by remembering his name or following up her visit with a thank you card? It’s human nature to consider: “Maybe if I forfeited my extra attention from a few patients today, I’ll have time to get the backed up paperwork completed.” However, it’s an act of service excellence to remember that it’s the intangible – the feelings, the emotional connection that patients experience with you – that tells them loud and clear that they matter.

What do you think? Remembering the finer points of service excellence isn’t easy when you’re busy. How do you remind yourself to focus on the patient’s experience?

For more information, visit www.WhosYourGladys.com or preorder your book at your favorite online book store.

1 comment:

kare anderson said...

Finding ways to show one took the time to remember something personal - especially about preferences - "even" using the "high tech" storage of such reminders makes the high touch thoughtfulness possible