It was several years ago but Ill always remember a discussion I had with a seasoned, high-profile healthcare executive. In my opinion, he was one of those who personified the definition of a leaderone whose reputation was above reproach.
In a casual conversation, we started talking about how patients are treated in hospitalsnot in a clinical sense but the level of customer service they encounter. In a presentation I made during a meeting attended by this executive and his peers, I talked about the dismal state of customer service in hospital settings. I used examples of above-average service in other industries and how companies that worked tirelessly to practice customer service almost always saw rewards in higher market share and profitability.
There have always been plenty of data available to support top-quality service as a path to stronger employee morale, greater efficiency in operations, and improved loyalty and satisfaction among customers. Much to my surprise, after I had made my case regarding treating patients as customers, the leader I referred to above came to me after my presentation and more or less told me his organization had over the years done a poor job of treating patients like customers. We should try and do better, I remember him saying. From many other stories friends have told me more recentlyafter experiencing hospital customer service firsthand as a patientIm not sure anything has improved.