Thursday, July 24, 2014

Nursing: Extreme Customer Service

I find myself evaluating the level of customer service everywhere I go. I guess it’s a side effect of training customer service for so long. It’s a lot like my inability to take an item off the shelf in the store and not front the item from behind…too many years in retail I guess. I had the opportunity this week to witness an example of excellent customer service under unfortunate circumstances.

My daughter spent 24 hours in the hospital for observation due to an illness. Unfortunately, this is not the first time I’ve had this experience with my daughter. She had eye surgery when she was ten months old and dental surgery (two root canals, caps, and fillings) last year. Each instance had its pros and cons as far as my daughter was concerned. At ten months old, she had no fear because she didn’t know what was going on. It broke my heart after the surgery though because she’s in pain, doesn’t know why, and I can’t explain it to her as she’s only ten months old. At four and five years old, she battles you going in and coming out of surgery. I have learned what to expect from her and know what the nurses are going to have to deal with as well. I have been very impressed with the level of customer service from the nurses during our multiple hospital visits.

The playing field for nursing is a bit different than your typical customer service situation. For one, their “customers” never want to be there. At least, I’ve never met anyone who enjoyed getting sick or having surgery. They find themselves trying to make the best of a bad situation. My daughter made it clear with her occasional outbursts that she did not want to be there. I know at one point (after the IV was put into her hand….she hates needles) she flat out told the nurse, “I don’t like you”. On one hand I was not happy with her for talking to the nurse like that, but on the other hand, I was just glad that she didn’t throw a temper tantrum like I know she wanted to.

In addition to a nurse’s customer not wanting to be there, their customer is also often in pain and/or medicated. This only adds to fun. As we found out, steroids (to open her inflamed lungs) kept her awake and made her cranky. That’s a perfect storm when she had already been awake for 20+ hours. (A little side note: I’m pretty sure the steroids give her nightmares too…a little fun now at home when trying to catch up on sleep.)

Nurses also don’t have the opportunity to sell you more or make more money because they offer better customer service. Increasing sales for a retail associate or getting a bigger tip as a server in a restaurant help boost your desire to provide better service. That’s not the case for a nurse though. I won’t claim to know what drives a nurse to put up with half the things they do and keep plugging away with their service for others. I doubt it’s the same for all of them. I can only assume that they have a strong desire to help others and enjoy being able to minimize pain and suffering. I’m assuming one of the many nurses I know will let me know if I’m close…if they happen to read this.

Basically, to me, nursing seems to be a selfless act of compassion, providing excellent customer service, without personal benefit, while possibly being puked on. So, for that, a big thanks to all the nurses out there. Until next time….