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Flat Tire and Exceeding Expectations: How Empowerment Paves the Road of Patient Satisfaction

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

by Steve Smith, Healthcare Success Senior Consultant

steve smith healthcare success

Steve Smith, Healthcare Success

Recently, I told you about the negative impact of five cents worth of coffee. That story was really about how a missed opportunity can be costly.

Today, I am pleased to tell you about the opposite, about how a few cents worth of product and labor can make a huge difference in the perception of your healthcare enterprise.

First, though, you should know my policy on reporting good and bad customer service. If I have service bad enough to report to you, that is, when some business has gone out of their way to make a bad impression, I will not reveal their name. Even the best companies can have a bad day, even a few bad days. Revealing the name of a company for one bad service event is like reviewing a movie after watching one frame. So, I don’t do it. Besides, the value is really in the lesson, not in the company’s identity.

On the other hand, when I get exceptional service, as I did last week, I am pleased to tell you who provided it because they not only deserve the recognition, they deserve our business.

So, here’s what just happened…

My wife and I were waiting for the valet service to bring our car around after a visit to a hotel. As I approached the car, the valet driver told me that I had a flat tire. I am going to skip over the next 45 minutes of dealing with the hotel and the tire so I can get to the good stuff.

After my spare was on, we drove to a local outlet of Discount Tires, a chain of tire and auto service stores. Luckily for us, I had purchased my tires at Discount Tires, and even though I was not at my local store, they honored their policy of free flat tire repairs on tires for their customers.

But that’s not all they did.

This Discount Tires location also checked and adjusted the air pressure in the other three tires and, almost unbelievably, sprayed each tire with tire cleaner and polisher to make them sparkle. Total cost to them: About fifty cents of product and five minutes of time. Their return: This story is now a national customer service blog post and I will likely be telling clients across the country about their service for a long time.

The moral of the story is--well, actually there are two. The first one is to make sure that you don’t let a small expense get in the way of a huge return. The second is that you should always be looking for ways to shine.

In your health care enterprise, the key to creating a memorable or disastrous patient experience is empowerment. Empower your staff to know their boundaries, that is, what they should and should not say to a patient and what they can and cannot promise a patient. More important, they need the confidence that they will not be reprimanded if they act in the best interests of the patient, but perhaps outside of policy. Setting the patient experience boundaries is usually a trial and error process, so have patience.

When your staff has a clear idea of the behavior you want them to exhibit, your business grows through word-of-mouth, which is the best business to get because the new patients are already predisposed to like you. Why? Because someone they trust has endorsed your services.

Exceptional patient experience and patient satisfaction comes from good training. Give us a call about the easy-to-remember and easy-to-execute program: Ten Seconds to Great Customer Service. Call or click here for more information.

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