Maybe I’m “old school”, but I hate bad customer service. Whether it’s trying to get a live person on the phone, trying to find out information about a bill, returning a product that didn’t work, or scheduling a repair, it just seems to be such a challenge. I find it to be a problem both personally and professionally. The time spent on hold alone is ridiculous. Lately, either I am growing more intolerant or the problem is growing, which caused me to step back and find some solutions I thought I would share.
On the service receiver side: A center was struggling to get medical clearances from a specialist consistently. I was having to step in to make calls routinely to request clearances at the eleventh hour so surgery wouldn’t have to be cancelled. It became a routine conversation in the facility..accompanied with rolling eyes and sighs (on my part as well!). I’m sure you know the drill…patient needs clearance…requested it a week ago, left two voice mails, surgery tomorrow. After multiple calls on multiple patients, I decided to approach it differently. I called the facility leader and made it our problem. Yup! I basically stated that I realized that our facility staff MUST be impacting their practice with all our calls and faxes, and that we clearly must not understand their process, and would they be so kind as to help us understand what we were doing wrong? Of course I added an apology for all the time our requests must be adding to their already busy day. We got the clearance within the hour! What I learned? Complaints often get a deaf ear, but making the problem about process may get the attention it needs.
On the service provider side: I had a situation recently where a physician was complaining about something to me that was, in all honesty, a bit nit picky. It was, in my brain, something he should have resolved on his own, and definitely would not be on my priority list. It became clear, however, that it was important to him. I could have dealt with the issue in several ways…procrastination, delegation, refusal and referral all came to mind, but after I let go of my perception of the complaint, I realized that, despite my “rating” of his concern on my task list, it was important to him. I stopped what I was doing, made it my priority, carved out a little time, and got the issue fixed. The result? You would have thought I solved a world problem. I even got feedback from others as to his perception of me getting things done efficiently. What l learned? If it is a priority to my customer (within reason, of course), making it my priority will reflect positively on my relationship, so carve out the time to problem solve.
So, if you are like me and feel frustrated with customer service woes as well, especially if it causes eye rolling and sighing, take a step back and look at it differently. Put yourself in the other person’s role. If you are the customer, how can you voice your concerns in a way that the service provider will respond? If you are the service provider, if the problem is important to your customer, it is important. In either case, a little perspective review, and your customer service problems may get just a bit better.
As always, thanks for reading my posts! I consider my readers my customers, and I’m hopeful that I add a little support and insight in what you do.
I am writing my blog this week as I sit in an old friend’s breakfast restaurant drinking coffee in the town where I grew up. I came here for a long weekend to visit some great friends. It has been nostalgic driving down the streets where I learned to drive, passing the house where I grew up and my old high school, remembering all the experiences that brought me to today.
Many things have changed here. The bridge we used to jump into the river from is gone, now just an overpass.
The orange groves where we would gather on Saturday nights is now a subdivision. The Drive In is now a Home Depot. I’m grateful that the warm gulf breeze is the same, and the gulf sunsets are as amazing as ever.
The town is where I became a nurse, and started in my first surgery center. I began in the PACU, crossed the red line and learned how to circulate, learned Risk and Quality, then became Nurse Manager almost 20 years ago. I considered all the things I have learned in that time, and how I would mentor my new nurse self if I could.
Here are some of my reminiscent brain musings:
Ask for help. When I was new in my role, I thought that asking for help would mean I didn’t know my job well enough. Now I recognize it as a strength, and key to being a successful leader. As a great friend recently told me, the best advice she recieved was don’t be afraid to ask why.
Don’t feel intimidated. When I started my career, I remember how some of the seasoned nurses made me feel. I will never understand why some nurses aren’t nurturing to their peers, but it is a cultural reality. Had my young nurse self not taken it personally, it would have allowed for better learning and less struggle.
Don’t assume. So often, I find that people hang on to “sacred cow” processes. My more mature self has learned to identify this, but, when younger, I trusted the “that’s the way we’ve always done it” or “those are the rules”.
Write stuff down. Update preference cards, write down processes, and update policies as things happen. You never know what will be remembered or who will leave.
Trust your gut. The best advice ever. When less experienced, it is easy to be swayed by others based on their experience or training when making critical decisions. If there are doubts, get some advice or do some homework. Often, your first instincts will be right on track. I’ve always done the…would I be comfortable with this decision if scrutinized? You will be alone in defending a decision made despite the influencers.
Find a mentor. There are several key people that were my go to’s as I was learning. I still rely on great people when I need to make key decisions, and am grateful for the great support and advice they provide. On those days when things get rough, having someone you can trust with experience is key.
I’ll finish this week’s post to return to chasing the ghosts of my past, wondering what my fresh scrubbed new nurse self would think of the now me. I hope she’d approve.
In-services. We all know the importance of training our staff, keeping them updated and communicating regularly. If you are like me,
You swear you just had an in-service recently, go back to your records, and time has flown by. Could that last documented in-service really have been that long ago?
How can you make your in-service documentation better? (more…)