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Who would you rather be?

June 25, 2013

Decisions at 16,000′

It’s been a month or so since I’ve blogged, primarily due to workload as I’ve taken on a new, interim role in NHS Orkney, as explained in my last blog. Flight 4 - AberfoyleThere’s been a couple of blog idea bubbling around in my head that I’ve wanted to share, but never quite put ‘pen to paper’ (or should that be fingers to keyboard?). Even as I write this I’m not sure whether to write about an idea I discussed with @docherty_e this morning as we sat in Glasgow Airport, or to write about the ‘difference’ – a blog I’ve already started. The ‘difference’ relates to my role as an executive member of an NHS Board and what is different to the role I perform in my substantive post as an Associate Nurse Director.

As I write this I’m at 16,000 feet looking out of the window at Aberfoyle far below, it’s decision time!

The decision – customer care

This morning I arrived at Glasgow Airport at 09.30hrs for my flight to Kirkwall, 90 minutes early: LoganAir check-in had four operators on duty and approximately 10 – 12 people in the queue (so not overly busy), having reached the front of the queue I moved forward when requested – “where are you flying to”. No good morning, no how are you today – “ID”“have you got any of these items in your hand luggage?” All this while looking down at her screen – efficient and getting through the work! I asked if it was possible to get two seat together, for my colleague and I – we usually use this time to discuss the week ahead, areas that need addressed and basically as an extension of the working day – “your seat’s already allocated” pause “and Mr Docherty has already check in.” Hmm, the text I got from him 20 seconds earlier said he was waiting for his transfer bus at the off-site car park, of course he might be wrong and didn’t know nowhere he was!! I didn’t venture an opinion.

Let me look and see

I compared this to two other events, one last week and another one this morning.

  1. At one of the other desks an older couple were progressing rather slowly with the process of finding their photographic ID, the check-in operator didn’t rush them, however she also processed another passenger, via a side door, who was in the priority queue, while never losing focus on the older couple in from of her. The priority passenger was dealt with quickly and efficiently, he appreciated the extra attention he had received, the older couple were not rushed or made to feel they were a bother.
  2. Last week, arriving at check-in there was a fairly large queue (for LoganAir) of around 30 to 40 people. I arrived at the head of the queue and was called forward “good morning sir, where are you travelling to today”“do you have your photographic ID please”“on the front of the desk there is a chart, do you have any of those items in your hand luggage?” I asked if it would be possible to have a seat beside my colleague – “let me look and see what I can do, is he here at the minute?” “no problem sir, I can give you seat 12C & D, I’ve just allocated that for Mr Docherty when he arrives”.

Not doing wrong might not be enough

Today’s flight is 75% full, last week it was 100% full and check-in was three times busier, which left me wondering – what was the difference? PlaneThese three employees of Loganair each displayed different aspects of customer care. All three of them did their job, they were efficient and effective, they each carried out their duties safely, yet for one the person-centred, caring perspective was missed completely. It made me reflect on how we deliver healthcare on a day to day basis. My current area of responsibility spans nursing, midwifery and allied health professions – as I sat in the airport I wondered how many of our team today would be like last week’s check-in operator or the one on the ‘priority’ desk? How many will get though their workload today in an efficient manner, but never actually look at or consider the person in front of them? Which one do you aspire to be – are you efficient and effective, do you carry out your role as a task, or do you care about making it the best experience the person in front of you can have.

Feeling valued

Flight 4 - OrkneyOrkney 1The check-in person this morning did nothing wrong, however I didn’t leave that check-in desk feeling important or valued – the outcome will still be the same, I’ll get to Orkney just after lunch time …………

………………. but I know which one I hope will be on duty next week when I arrive at the airport.

Will your patient’s look forward to seeing you at their next clinic or home appointment or the next time they are in your ward?

Will it be an experience characterised by care and compassion or will it simply be an efficient experience?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 25, 2013 10:46 pm

    Already I’m identifying common themes with the NHS Scotland Event!

    It was Maureen Bisognano from The Institute of Healthcare Improvement who challenged delegates to consider asking others, what matters to you? If your check-in person Derek had considered that, they would have quickly realised what it wasn’t – that is, an abrupt and impersonal greeting. Conversely, amazing how far a more person-centred approach can take you and goes to show customer care and empathy transcends many boundaries in many guises.

    Perhaps reflection on ’10 things we know about How’ could have helped them better prepare for their day ahead: https://twitter.com/jasonleitch/status/344846238979604480/photo/1

    An interesting read and food for thought
    marcommskenny

    • June 25, 2013 10:54 pm

      Thanks Kenny – the interesting thing was the two check-in operators were side by side, yet the experience was so very different. When Eddie eventually joined me and I told him he knew exactly who I was talking about, “yes I got her as well” – perhaps a 10 things leaflet dropped off at the desk next week?? Thanks for the comment Derek

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