Customer service in health care

Last week I spent four days at Disney World with my family.  It was amazing see the magic of it all though my four year old’s eyes.  One of the biggest things  I was amazed by was how friendly everybody was.  And their friendliness made even waiting for over an hour for a three minute ride tolerable.
I saw people yelling the Disney employees and cursing them out, and the employee would just smile at them and say thank you.  I saw employees whose job it was to empty trash cans smile at my daughter, call her “princess” and make her feel happy.

As we all know, much of what health care is now, especially in hospitals, is customer service driven.  We work in a competitive industry where many consumers can make the decision to take health care dollars to another hospital if they don’t get what they want from your hospital.  And, we know that many of the people we take care of can be mean and many times hateful to us as their caregivers.

Imagine the impact we could make on our patients, the organization, our co-workers and healthcare as a hole if we could keep a smile on our faces.  When that homeless patient is cussing you out and calling you a worthless idiot and you just look at them, smile and say “thank you for your feedback, what can I do to make you stay more enjoyable. “

My grandmother always told me, “kill them with kindness” when it comes to dealing with nasty people.  Now, I am not the type of person to take a bunch of abuse from people, I will push back immediately and show them that I don’t take any crap.  But there have been times, especially as a manager, that I have done this and many times those people will back right down, and be willing to have a reasonable conversation.

At times those Disney employees were almost robot like, and I would never suggest that, there has to be a happy medium between that smiling zombie and a doormat that continually gets abused by their patients.  Give it a try this week with just one unruly patient and see how it works.

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