Thursday, November 7, 2013

What Does Customer Service Mean At Imagine!?

Last week, I was meeting with Carla Rapp, a member of Imagine!’s 2013-2014 Leadership Development Class. She had brought along a book she thought I might enjoy: “Management Lessons From Mayo Clinic,” by Leonard Berry and Kent Seltman.

Now, I have a confession to make. I don’t always love management books. In fact, I think they tend to be a dime a dozen, filled with vague and generic advice, overused inspirational quotes, and tortured analogies. But I felt I owed it to Carla to give it a read, and I am so glad I did. I haven’t even finished the book yet, and it has already made me rethink the way I look at Imagine! and how we deliver services.

The book starts out by describing how healthcare consumers (or customers) are different from customers in other service industries. For example, healthcare customers are usually sick or injured, and under stress. Healthcare customers don’t just enter the healthcare facility, they often end up staying there for extended periods – they live there. Healthcare customers are there to fulfill a “need” rather than a “want,” and often enter into service very reluctantly. Healthcare services are inherently personal and require a more holistic and customized service than in most other service industries. And finally, healthcare customers are at risk of being harmed beyond their existing medical problems when they enter a medical facility.

As I read through that list, I realized how much that list parallels what we do at Imagine!. And because of this, it dawned on me that we can’t interact with the people we serve as if we were trying to sell them shoes. We need to have a much different understanding of their needs and approach to meeting those needs. In many ways we already do that, but in other ways we may be falling short. I look forward to reading more and sharing with you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what customer service means to an organization like Imagine!. And thanks Carla, for introducing me to this book!

Then again, what do I know?

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