Hospitality In Healthcare
by Jorge Vazquez-Lopez
What comes to mind when you think of “Quality Customer Service?”
Do you think of suit-clad waiters serving shrimp cocktail over crisp white table clothes and 7-piece table settings? Do you hear the warm welcome of a hotel receptionist and see the smile that goes with it? Maybe you recall the taste of a fantastic meal or the smell of fresh linens on a cloud-like hotel bed.
On the other hand, this phrase might conjure up a completely negative set of images and memories. That dirty look your waiter gave you when you politely pointed out that you ordered your steak “medium-well” not “well-that’s ruined.” The store clerk who answered your question with disdain and a conversation ending “I don’t know.” Or maybe it was that call to the cable company that kept being transferred over and over again to another department.
Whether you are reminded of positive or negative service interactions, the reason why you remember these in the first place is because of how they made you feel. How we feel before, during, and after a service interaction truly is one of the most important factors of any customer service experience. More than taste, sight, smell, sound or touch, it is our emotional state that dictates how we ultimately judge an overall experience. But how do we engage a person’s emotions?
Achieving Emotional Engagement…
Emotional engagement is achieved by strategically meeting the tangible needs and wants of our customers, (i.e. luxurious amenities, beautiful offices, comfortable furniture) while simultaneously addressing their intangible needs, expectations, and wants.
Though intangible needs are made up of many factors including culture, expectations, preconceived notions, and individual wants, they can be summed up by the following as highlighted by William B. Martin, PhD. in his book Providing Quality Service: What Every Hospitality Service Provider Needs to Know*. In it he presents the “Four Basic Customer Needs:”
- The Need to Be Understood
- The Need to Feel Welcome
- The Need to Feel Important
- The Need for Comfort
These basic customer needs are especially evident in the fields of hospitality, food & beverage and healthcare. In the hospitality and food & beverage industries, customer service is held to the highest standard for a simple reason: If a client is not satisfied, they will be less likely to come back and more likely to take their business elsewhere. However, providing quality customer service is not usually emphasized in the healthcare industry.
Why Not Emphasize Hospitality In Healthcare?
It may have to do with the fact that service providers are struggling with higher stress levels due to the nature of the work. Another reason may be that the patients (customers) are usually carrying a lot of stress as well and that may make them harder to serve. The reality, however, is that due to a lack in competition, the complex and technical nature of the field and the high demand of services, healthcare providers can become complacent in their interpersonal interactions and treat people as an afterthought to their work rather than the reason for it.
This most certainly should not be the case and it is not true of every healthcare organization. There are those who understand that treating people with “care” goes beyond their physical needs. We choose to be the latter.
Love People Back To Health!
At Family Recovery Specialists(FRS) our goal is to “love people back to health.” This underlying value affects everything we do and how we engage with our guests and their families. Through genuine empathy, clinically sophisticated programming, and the preservation of dignity, we seek to positively impact the lives of our guests and their families for many years to come.
From the moment a person walks in the door, it is our aim to welcome them as we would a family member. Immediately making them feel welcome, important, comforted and understood. This in fact is the most important part of what we do. To provide a space where a person who has been struggling for so long can finally feel like they are understood and are safe to truly express how they feel.
Breakdowns in communication, such as language barriers and cultural differences, can amplify these needs in people seeking treatment. Our multicultural programming addresses both of these needs by providing most treatment services in both English and Spanish and engaging families in a culturally sensitive treatment approach that takes into account the particular dynamics of each family system. Taking these extra steps not only meets our guests’ need to be understood but also allows our guests to feel valued and important. Another way to make a person feel comforted, valued and important is by not treating them as a diagnosis.
A Person…Not A Diagnosis
Though our guests may be struggling with a substance-use or mental health disorder, we believe that this does not define them. While our primary goal is always to address these issues, we believe that a person is much more than their condition and will always treat them with the utmost respect and dignity. In that spirit, we refrain from using labels such as “addict or “alcoholic,” opting for treating our guests as people who may or may not have a disease and working with them to find a solution. By including guests in the treatment process we empower them and make them a valued part of their own recovery process.
Becoming Part Of The Family…
In contrast, substance use usually creates shame and low-self esteem, which isolates the individual. At FRS, we want our guests to feel like part of the family. Even more so, we want our guests to be able to reconnect to their loved ones and reintegrate to their own families. Using dynamic tools such as The Daring Way ™, SMART Recovery ®, and intensive family therapy, our program allows guests a unique venue to tap in to the love and support that is offered to them and learn to use it to propel themselves towards a successful recovery.
By keeping the four basic customer needs in mind we create the ultimate service experience that lays the foundation for truly transformative treatment. Being intentional about our approach is how we create the proper environment for healing to take place.
Prioritizing these details, rather than treating them as an after thought, is what can turn a good experience into a great experience. We want our guests to walk away feeling that they had an amazing experience that ultimately changed their lives. Most of all we want our guests to feel loved, encouraged, and full of hope for the bright future that is now at reach. There is a quote credited to Maya Angelou that reads:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
This is the true spirit of quality customer service, the heart of emotional engagement and is at the center of everything we do at Family Recovery Specialists.
*Reference: Providing Quality Service: What Every Hospitality Service Provider Needs to Know
By William B. Martin, PhD