34. Nice comes standard

Have you ever had an unpleasant customer service experience in a health care setting?  Not saying it happens everywhere or every time but such an experience has been known to occur.  All too often at some organizations.

Seth wants to know the price of nice:

So, here’s the question: if all I want, the only extra, is for someone to be nice to me when I visit your business, how much extra does that cost? How much extra to talk to a nice person when I call tech support? How much extra to find a nice receptionist at the doctor’s office? Would you pay $9 extra for a smile when you dealt with the Social Security bureaucrats and were filing a form?

The occurrence of unkindness is inexcusable, really.  No one (at least the sane no ones) expects anybody to go above and beyond in every service opportunity.  But patients should insist upon a pleasant interaction every time; a smile would be a good touch, too.

Some patients are willing to pay extra for it, they shouldn’t have to, but they are.  Insurance complicates (per usual) this thought in the health care world, but think of it like this: would you be willing to drop a five-dollar bill in a collection plate as you enter the organization’s door in order to be treated nicely throughout your visit?  Many would.  It may be surprising what people would be willing to pay for enjoyable service.

Seth finishes:

I think there’s a huge gap between what people are willing to pay for nice (a lot) and what it would cost businesses to deliver it (almost nothing). Smells like an opportunity.

Principle #34: An opportunity it is.  At our own system nice comes standard.  It’s not even (entirely) about the financial opportunity that comes with being nice, it’s (mostly) about the way people should be treated in their time of need.  We will include “will be nice to everyone” in the first paragraph of the job description.

2 thoughts on “34. Nice comes standard

  1. While I agree with your basic premise that customers in this case patients should be treated with respect and that staff should be “nice”, the problem arises with the kind of day to day exposure that so many healthcare professionals deal with. I am speaking about the huge amount of stress that envelopes the healthcare environment. Long term exposure takes a heave toll on one’s attitude. Furthermore those of us like myself that work in some of the front line areas of healthcare – emergency medicine – deal with many patients that are rude, curt, lying, physically violent and verbally abusive every single day. Sometimes several times a day. One of the EDs I worked in, a nurse was stabbed by a patient. Hard to be nice when that happens. In fact it is difficult to be nice to people that are not extending the same courtesy.

    Clearly there needs to be away of managing the stressful environments in which healthcare professionals work and to have patients at least conceptually agree with the give and take that is required so much of the time in delivering care.

    But you’re right about being nice, everyone – customers and employees need to be nice. In terms of cost, some days there just isn’t enough money with the type of people you meet. Everyone has a limit.

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  2. Mike, I agree with you. The last thing I want to do is undercut the people who actually do the work in health care. Problem patients make it harder for everyone. Those difficult situations perpetually build upon each other and pretty soon no one wants to come to work…and then no one wants to come your hospital, either.

    You hit the nail on the head with this: Clearly there needs to be away of managing the stressful environments in which healthcare professionals work and to have patients at least conceptually agree with the give and take that is required so much of the time in delivering care.

    I think we have done a poor job in managing expectations in health care. The root of that problem is that patients think doctors are miracle workers. While they do some amazing things, doctors don’t always have all the answers. A better understanding of what health care is able to for people would do everyone some good.

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