"Customer service" and nursing - page 6

I've seen a lot of people talk about 'customer service' in a disparaging manner, as if that is not what nursing is about and it's making their lives harder to provide it. Could someone explain... Read More

  1. by   KaroSnowQueen
    True customer service story:
    I had six patients on a step down unit.
    In room with MD removing staples on post op pt. Pt dehisces in front of shocked family onlooking. Running back and forth, getting saline, dressings, hollering for the UC to order cooling blanket, stat IV ABTs, getting stat pain meds, etc, etc, calming family, doing everything that minute to get this pt stable and keep freaking out family from freaking out further. MD freaking out, cursing, hollering.
    Pt in next room, their family member stops me in the hall as I am rushing to the unstable pt's side with meds and bandages, "Grandma needs a coke." Told family member as pleasantly as possible, "I am in the middle of an emergency situation with another patient, I will be a while, can you please go to the desk and ask someone else."
    I got called to NM's office next day and yes she understood the situation entirely but I still got written up because the Grandma-needs-a-coke person had complained that I told them I was too busy to get Grandma a coke. That was "poor customer service." Told NM I don't have customers, I have patients, the one with her guts lying all over the bed came before grandma and her coke, and he could jolly well have walked his big butt down the hall and got Grandma the coke himself.
    Customer service, my eye.

    I was on the other side of the bed last month, had kidney surgery. Other than asking for pain meds the first day as often as they could give them to me (and morphine sucks! God only knows why they give it, I hate it!!!) and going to the desk the last day and asking for ice cream (throat hurt d/t being intubated twice), I never asked for a darn thing. I KNEW my nurses woud help me as soon as they could and didn't make a pest of myself.
    Customer service is what I expect in Penney's or Sears when I am looking for a green size 18 sweater they advertised in the Sunday paper and can't find it. (Oh here it is in lavendar ma'am, or would you like a rain check?)

    Patient care is what I give at work and what I expect while I am in the hospital or in the doctor's office. I expect them to get me better, not find bubble gum for my grandchildren or feed my husband.
    Hospital customer service has evolved into meeting EVERY NEED OF EVERYONE WHO VOICES ONE NO MATTER HOW MINOR OR HOW MUCH NEED SOMEONE ELSE HAS WHO REALLY TRULY NEEDS IT. Then we are understaffed and berated on a nearly daily basis when we cannot perform the impossible.
    Like I said, customer service, my eye.
    Last edit by KaroSnowQueen on Apr 10, '07 : Reason: to add on and complete thoughts.
  2. by   wooh
    Quote from LilPeanut
    psycho-social needs are part of patient care as well....

    I'm wondering how so many peds areas do it so well, while adult areas struggle.
    That's easy, better staffing. I have 2 patients fewer at my peds job than I did at my adult job. (And we're understaffed now.) Not to mention, a lot of the ADLs I had to do for adults, the parents do. So I've got time for "customer service."
  3. by   NurseCherlove
    [quote=KaroSnowQueen;2150229]True customer service story:
    I had six patients on a step down unit.
    In room with MD removing staples on post op pt. Pt dehisces in front of shocked family onlooking. Running back and forth, getting saline, dressings, hollering for the UC to order cooling blanket, stat IV ABTs, getting stat pain meds, etc, etc, calming family, doing everything that minute to get this pt stable and keep freaking out family from freaking out further. MD freaking out, cursing, hollering.
    Pt in next room, their family member stops me in the hall as I am rushing to the unstable pt's side with meds and bandages, "Grandma needs a coke." Told family member as pleasantly as possible, "I am in the middle of an emergency situation with another patient, I will be a while, can you please go to the desk and ask someone else."
    I got called to NM's office next day and yes she understood the situation entirely but I still got written up because the Grandma-needs-a-coke person had complained that I told them I was too busy to get Grandma a coke. That was "poor customer service." Told NM I don't have customers, I have patients, the one with her guts lying all over the bed came before grandma and her coke, and he could jolly well have walked his big butt down the hall and got Grandma the coke himself.


    That made me insanely angry to read that! Once again...idiots confusing HOSPITAL with HOSPITALITY SERVICES. Ya'll, we as nurses have got to band together and somehow get the message of our reality out to the mostly ignorant public! We are not handmaidens or waitresses. We are professionals with immense responsibilities trained to promote patient welfare/recovery. Would these idiots ask the MD to fetch a coke for their grandma? Are patients even offered cokes when they go to the doctor's office?

    It just blows me away that these people see us rushing around and then have the audacity to even ask for these little comforts. It's not like we are walking at warp speed just to get back to playing our video game! If they wanna get mad, they need to direct their anger appropriately...to administration for lack of proper staffing.
  4. by   DusktilDawn
    True customer service story:
    I had six patients on a step down unit.
    In room with MD removing staples on post op pt. Pt dehisces in front of shocked family onlooking. Running back and forth, getting saline, dressings, hollering for the UC to order cooling blanket, stat IV ABTs, getting stat pain meds, etc, etc, calming family, doing everything that minute to get this pt stable and keep freaking out family from freaking out further. MD freaking out, cursing, hollering.
    Pt in next room, their family member stops me in the hall as I am rushing to the unstable pt's side with meds and bandages, "Grandma needs a coke." Told family member as pleasantly as possible, "I am in the middle of an emergency situation with another patient, I will be a while, can you please go to the desk and ask someone else."
    I got called to NM's office next day and yes she understood the situation entirely but I still got written up because the Grandma-needs-a-coke person had complained that I told them I was too busy to get Grandma a coke. That was "poor customer service." Told NM I don't have customers, I have patients, the one with her guts lying all over the bed came before grandma and her coke, and he could jolly well have walked his big butt down the hall and got Grandma the coke himself.
    Customer service, my eye.
    Absolutely inappropriate for nurses to be written up for this kind of trivial nonsense. Your NM should have backed you up:
    "I don't think you understood the situation Mr. Grandmaneedsacoke. Karo was attempting to stabilize a patient who's condition became critical, and that was her priority at that time. I'm sure if that was your Grandma who's condition took a turn for the worse, you would certainly expect Karo to make your Grandmother her priority. You certainly wouldn't expect her to get another patient a coke."

    What is being effectively communicated is that "wants" are just as important as "needs." Our patients need air to breathe, a beating heart and enough blood volume to adequate supply oxygen to vital organs, nourishment to replenish and rebuild their bodies, education to help them help themselves, etc. They may want a coke or warm soup, but they will not perish nor will it compromise their condition if that want is not met in a timely manner.
  5. by   wooh
    What's happening is nurses are using Maslow's hierarchy, management is using Press-Gainey. My customer service comes down to this, I ensure repeat business. My "customers" can't come back if they're dead.
  6. by   crissrn27
    Quote from wooh
    What's happening is nurses are using Maslow's hierarchy, management is using Press-Gainey. My customer service comes down to this, I ensure repeat business. My "customers" can't come back if they're dead.


    I know you were serious........but this is soooo funny. Its also soooooooooo true!
  7. by   crissrn27
    So I have read all the post.......we need more ancillary staff!! Saftey of the pts comes FIRST.......the rest is "extras".......we also need more nurse managers and "higher-ups" to back us up in cases of these stupid complaints. I got truly mad reading about some of the c##pola that you guys were written up for!
  8. by   Tweety
    Quote from TazziRN
    Again, Tweety, that's not customer service, that is good pt care.

    Maybe you and I have the same definition, just different terms.

    O.K.

    Sometimes there's a way to provide a more patient centered care that provides greater satisfaction. When nurses say things like "you're not my only patient you know", when the go into the room hang an antibiodic and walk out, when they run into a room "I'm so horribly busy, we're so short staffed, I hate this place", "it's change of shift, you have to wait",
    I just walked out of here, why did you call me back!" these are the issues that need to be addressed. Call them patient care issues, customer service issues, whatever you want. Bottom line if people aren't happy and there are things we can address to improve.

    Of course administration has a place to because if your nurses aren't happy, the patients aren't going to be happy.
  9. by   LilPeanut
    That is exactly what I'm talking about tweety!
  10. by   flashpoint
    Quote from DusktilDawn
    What is being effectively communicated is that "wants" are just as important as "needs." Our patients need air to breathe, a beating heart and enough blood volume to adequate supply oxygen to vital organs, nourishment to replenish and rebuild their bodies, education to help them help themselves, etc. They may want a coke or warm soup, but they will not perish nor will it compromise their condition if that want is not met in a timely manner.
    :yeahthat:
  11. by   JennieO
    Frankly, customer service is important to attract future pts., but it can certainly distract from the "real" pt. getting the best care. I do not want to have you hinting that YOU, the visitor, have not had their BP checked for months while I am doing an assessment, etc, etc. My priority is the pt. and that is what I want to focus on. I am not your secretary. Ask the doctor these questions when he/she comes in, instead of sitting there being polite and smiling, especially after you just unloaded on ME your frustrations with the medical end of business. Visit, go home, call later. And how about those huge families that live at the hospital--obviously someone needs a job.
  12. by   TrudyRN
    Quote from NurseguyFL
    I agree with DusktilDawn. 'Customer service' is not about giving good quality nursing care, its about keeping the patients and their families happy ---no matter what. IMO, the way management is now attempting to define 'customer service' in terms of quality nursing care is both silly and impractical. Nurses nowadays are working with more and sicker patients, our scope of practice is broader so we have more responsibilities, and we are under increased pressure because of higher Joint Commission standards and our own concerns for patient safety and potential liability issues. So, its likely that there's always going to be that angry patient or family member who files a complaint because we didn't bring the extra blanket they asked for fast enough, or because we didn't come back at exactly the time we said we would. In an acute care environment we must constantly rearrange our priorities, and, in any case, one patient's satisfaction should never have a higher priority over another patient's safety.

    I've been written up before because a family member was upset that I didn't come back to warm up her husband's soup and he "couldn't enjoy his dinner." According to my then manager, I seemed to have an issue with communicating with patients and their families because I should have gone back to the room and explained why I didn't come back at the time I said I would. Sorry, but if I'm juggling a bunch of patients on a busy med surg floor with no PCA to help me, and one of my post-ops suddenly starts bleeding, I'm not going to leave that bleeding patient to go warm up a bowl of soup. The manager was well aware of the circumstances but she still wrote me up for it anyway.

    The way I see it, if management is really serious about giving patients hotel-type 'customer service' then they need to hire more nurses and supportive staff and give us fewer patients, but that probably never going happen, so...
    Please tell me you wrote down your side of the picture in your response to being written up. Please tell me you protested the write-up all the way to the Board of Directors if no one lower listened to you and tore the #&** thing up. If you didn't, do it now. Your manager has her cerebrum up her rectum and deserves to be horsewhipped.:angryfire :angryfire :angryfire :angryfire :angryfire :angryfire :angryfire :angryfire :angryfire :angryfire :angryfire :angryfire
  13. by   TrudyRN
    Quote from KaroSnowQueen
    True customer service story:
    I had six patients on a step down unit.
    In room with MD removing staples on post op pt. Pt dehisces in front of shocked family onlooking. Running back and forth, getting saline, dressings, hollering for the UC to order cooling blanket, stat IV ABTs, getting stat pain meds, etc, etc, calming family, doing everything that minute to get this pt stable and keep freaking out family from freaking out further. MD freaking out, cursing, hollering.
    Pt in next room, their family member stops me in the hall as I am rushing to the unstable pt's side with meds and bandages, "Grandma needs a coke." Told family member as pleasantly as possible, "I am in the middle of an emergency situation with another patient, I will be a while, can you please go to the desk and ask someone else."
    I got called to NM's office next day and yes she understood the situation entirely but I still got written up because the Grandma-needs-a-coke person had complained that I told them I was too busy to get Grandma a coke. That was "poor customer service." Told NM I don't have customers, I have patients, the one with her guts lying all over the bed came before grandma and her coke, and he could jolly well have walked his big butt down the hall and got Grandma the coke himself.
    Customer service, my eye.

    I was on the other side of the bed last month, had kidney surgery. Other than asking for pain meds the first day as often as they could give them to me (and morphine sucks! God only knows why they give it, I hate it!!!) and going to the desk the last day and asking for ice cream (throat hurt d/t being intubated twice), I never asked for a darn thing. I KNEW my nurses woud help me as soon as they could and didn't make a pest of myself.
    Customer service is what I expect in Penney's or Sears when I am looking for a green size 18 sweater they advertised in the Sunday paper and can't find it. (Oh here it is in lavendar ma'am, or would you like a rain check?)

    Patient care is what I give at work and what I expect while I am in the hospital or in the doctor's office. I expect them to get me better, not find bubble gum for my grandchildren or feed my husband.
    Hospital customer service has evolved into meeting EVERY NEED OF EVERYONE WHO VOICES ONE NO MATTER HOW MINOR OR HOW MUCH NEED SOMEONE ELSE HAS WHO REALLY TRULY NEEDS IT. Then we are understaffed and berated on a nearly daily basis when we cannot perform the impossible.
    Like I said, customer service, my eye.
    Please, please, please forward this to your Senators and Representatives, both in your state and in DC. They need to know the truth from the trenches.

    And your manager - it's good I don't work there. He sounds like a total jackass. :angryfire :smackingf And I now toast you for saving a life.

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