Featured Articles: PCMH

Peanuts and Pretzels

Tuesday, June 20, 2017   (0 Comments)
Share |

Ann Hogan, Ann Hogan Consulting


Do your employees have the tools they need to succeed at providing your patients an Excellent Customer Service Experience?   Often times we expect our employees to have the Customer Service skills needed to perform their jobs, but we forget we have the responsibility as a manager to give them the tools to ensure their success.


As a consultant, I travel quite a bit for my job.  Recently, I was able to observe the stark differences in the Customer Service Experience first hand.


On a recent flight, everyone boarded and was sitting in their seat awaiting take off to their destinations.  It was a small commuter plane with about 15-17 rows.   The plane was full and we had one flight attendant for the small plane.  When we reached altitude, it was time to hand out snacks and drinks to the all the passengers.  I realize that while on a plane, the flight attendant’s primary job is to ensure the safety of all passengers and handing out peanuts and pretzels is not a “primary” responsibility, but the airlines do this as service to their customers.   Therefore, it is a reflection of the company whether they want it to be or not. The time came for the attendant to walk through the aisle and begin to hand out pretzels to all passengers.  It was a short flight, and she walked with a quick step through the aisle with a clear plastic bag that had been ripped open on the side.  She was pleasant as she asked each of us if we would like a snack but the presentation of the pretzels was a bit lacking being pulled from a plastic bag.   Then it was time for taking drink orders.  She very quickly went to aisle one and asked for their orders, repeated them back to each passenger and very quickly walked to the drink station, filled the order and came back again at a very quick pace.  Because she could not carry all the drinks at once, she had to make two trips for each aisle.   Those of us in the middle and back of the plane began to discuss how bad we felt for her as she scurried as fast as she could to get everyone served.  It was uncomfortable to watch her make multiple trips back and forth and try to carry the drinks.  It was visible on her face and her walking stride that she was stressed by the job at hand.   Again, she was pleasant always, but as a passenger you felt like you wanted to help in this uncomfortable situation, however, there was no way to help but just watch the uncomfortable situation unfold.



A few days later, I was on another plane.  This time it is was a much larger plane with a lot more passengers.  Again, the plane was full and we all were seated awaiting take off.   Once in the air, the plane reached that magic 10,000 ft. and it was time for this crew to begin their process of handing out peanuts to all the passengers.   The crew was pleasant just like the plane before, although their presentation of the peanuts was a stark difference then on the previous plane.   The crewmember walked down the aisle at a comfortable pace and had a basket full of peanuts and asked each passenger if we would like one.   I couldn’t help but think how this was such a better presentation of peanuts and how the simple basket could have helped the flight attendant on the last plane.   Then it was time to take the drink orders and fill them.  The flight attendant walked up the aisle turned around and begin to ask each passenger what they would like, but they wrote it down on a seating chart, which they held in a clipboard, organized by aisle and seat and took the drink orders for several rows at once.  They then returned to the drink station filled all the passenger orders for approximately 12 people and placed them on a tray that had holes cut out for each drink to sit in.   All I could think of, was WOW this is a very stark difference in the Customer Service Experience from the other plane. 


As managers of our people, we need to listen to their ideas of how the Customer Service or Patient Experience can be made better.   In this case, a simple $8.00 basket and a plastic tray made all the difference in the flight attendant’s having the tools to do their work.  By no means is handing out peanuts and pretzels what they are on the plane for, but on an uneventful flight, this is what the customers see and experience.  In healthcare you’re there to save lives, which is similar to the flight attendant roles, but our patients experience so much more when they enter the clinic.  When patients enter your clinic, are they met with disorganization?  Is your staff able to print and scan forms within reach or do they have to constantly spend time walking back and forth to the printer or scanner while the patients wait to be registered?   Does your Medical and Dental staff have the resources they need in the exam rooms, or are they constantly in and out to get the supplies they need?   So I leave you with one last thought: are you giving your employees the necessary tools and resources to ensure that your patients are receiving the Excellent Customer Service Experience? 



NWRPCA welcomes and regularly publishes white papers and articles submitted by members, partners and associates with subject matter expertise. The appearance of any guest publication in our Health Center News database represents the views of the author and does not constitute endorsement by NWRPCA of the stated opinions or perspectives, nor does it suggest endorsement of the contributor's products or services.

Membership Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal