Customer service and nursing

Nurses General Nursing


  1. Is customer service a nursing function?

    • 78
    • 30
    • 2
      I have no preference and will do what ever I am told to do
    • 9
      other, please explain

119 members have participated

I really hate customer service pitches and how almost everyone in the hospital is a customer except the nursing staff. In plain English what I feel we are being told is that nurses have to bow down and provide hotel service to all who enter. This is not a choice and is part of our responsibilities under any conditions. Customers include patients, visitors, physicians, and it seems administration at times.

If nurses would only learn that they are customers too. We as customers extend our knowledge and services to facilities and in the same respect we can also pack up our stuff and go to another facility where we are treated as valued customers as well.

Facilities who want to put on the Ritz should have to hire the staff who can specialize in that. I am a nurse and my specialty is nursing.

Facilities will continue to treat us and demand of us until we say NO. And every time one nurse anywhere agrees to this, it will continue.

This includes watching customer service videos as mentioned at

canoehead, BSN, RN

6,856 Posts

Specializes in ER.

Customer service is something that everyone in the hospital has to take into account. Nursing is on the frontlines so we get to deal with more of the annoyed or unsatisfied customers which is frustrating. We are also responsible for setting limits like visiting hours, meals for visitors (if any), making special accomodations etc. Personally I wish we had more control over the flow of visitors, especially in OB, and ICU. I would be a much more cheerful person. And I also thinkthat in codes or busy stressful situations that sometimes too many visitors interferes with my ability to think straight, especially if there is not enough room for everyone. But no one visiting thinks it should be THEM that needs to leave, they've just got there, or are the best friend, or travelled 2h to get here. Well they can just bite me, as it is 3am, or hour six of the bedside party, or there is a roommate, or they are sprawled all over the floor and I can't get to the bed.

OMG I am going to SCREAM!!!

I am a little stressed from my last shift, you all know where I am coming from.


646 Posts

Just what IS customer service? Smiling while I'm doing other folks' jobs like refilling ice water, emptying overflowing garbage pails or mopping up spills????

Or is it nursing duties that aren't obvious to the average patient such as noticing a critical lab value not addressed by the day nurse or even the MD's, just as an example amoung millions.

I'm not a saint!!

Where am I Wal-mart? Damn, I just stuck a catheter in the guy in aisle 10!!!!:eek:


275 Posts


I can understand what you are saying to a point, but let me enlighten you on how bad it has become in some places.

There are places that actually have a no tolerance policy in place for customer complaints. If a nurses receives a complaint for any reason then they are let go.

Many nurses around the country have to answer to meaningless complaints on a daily basis and many places keep these complaints on file.

If you want a customer complaint the easiest and fastest way to get one is to try and set limits. You have to remember that customers are considered patients, visitors, and physicians at many of these places. I have worked at places where complint boxes were sitting on attached to the walls near every entrance/exit door, elevator, and even at nursing stations. This is besides the ones that are sent out in the form of a survey.

canoehead, BSN, RN

6,856 Posts

Specializes in ER.

Let go after one complaint? And no limit setting? Ummm, even 5 star hotels have limit setting, don't they? And we are dealing with emotionally charged situations, what about the battered wife who doesn't want her husband to know anything, but he is screaming and threatening staff in the hall. How many complaints will come out of that??? Or the whole famn damily wants to sprawl in the hall outside a labor room, violating fire regs, and confidentiality, and tripping staff running out for emergency equipment.?

I just don't understand how we would be supposed to do this...

And don't get me started on bonehead MD temper tantrums.

How do these hospitals retain staff if they are firing everyone?


275 Posts

In some states it is the law that minor children have the right to have their medical information kept confidential when STDs, birth control, or pregnancy is envolved. I have had a lot of pissed off parents confront me when I said I could not tell them anything.

It has even went so far as having to answering to bogus customer complaint issues and of course there is always something added in besides the actual situation.


275 Posts

I can not believe with all the whinning and moaning I have heard over this issue that people will not take the time to vote on it.

One of the reasons nurses are where they are today. Same old s**t, different day.:o

Hi -

I voted "other" and here's the explanation part.

I think that customer satisfaction is a very vague thing and I think that it's something that is being used as a tool. In the real world, a person's perception of "customer services" in a hospital is 99% the nursing care. So when we do a good job, the hospital has a good reputation, etc., etc.,

But, face it, *nobody* is going to please *everybody*. Not even on a very good day. And there are sometimes people who are just impossible to please.

So we can't just say "well, that person is impossible to please" when the customer satisfaction surveys come back and they're maybe not so stellar. Everything has to be quantified now-a-days. I think that a lot of this emphasis on the nurses being in charge of customer service is part of the shifting of blame. It's like "empowerment" is another buzzword. Which means that we're now also responsible for doing the administration's work.




657 Posts

I agree that customer service needs to be defined.

To me, as a nurse, customer service is that you see to it that your patient is kept comfortable and safe. It's the feeling they are being cared for. This includes filling their water pitchers if necessary. It includes making sure they have what they need. That their telephone, television, bed, call light, and plumbing works. That they have the right trays, their visitors are not overwhelming, or their roommates visitors are not annoying. These are basic things. I think it IS my job to see that they have all these things. I'm not saying that I should fix the plumbing or television, but I should see that maintenance is called. I picked up a patient at 3pm. She had been in for three days. Her shower NEVER worked. She was scheduled for tests that were never given. Although she had complained about these things her entire stay, no issues were resolved. It left me in a bad position because it was too late to resolve any of them.All she could do was *****. I turned the whole thing over to the charge nurse. Had her nurses made a few simple phone calls and followed up on them, this patient would have not been so upset. This is part of customer service. It is my job. And it's what our patients, the customer, deserve.

I am saying we need to address their NEEDS, not their desires. Those are two seperate things. Getting them a pitcher of water, when the assistant doesnt IS my job. Fluffing pillows and painting nails is NOT. But I really think the hospitals need to provide a definition of customer service and what THEY expect from us. So far this has been kept very vague.


238 Posts

I agree with NurseDennie. I think little things -water pitcher filling, pillow fluffing, helping someone find Wheel of Fortune on TV- often make a big difference, because the patient feels cared for, and feels attention has been paid to him or her. Do I do this stuff in the middle of a crisis? No, of course not. Sometimes though, taking the time when I've got the time has later paid off in a crisis. I find that I can then explain to a patient that I've established rapport with that I do have another patient requiring alot of attention now, so I can't give them as much time as I gave them the night before, but that I will take care of anything they really need right now. I find that they trust me, don't seem to feel that I am making this up or blowing them off and are often very understanding. I do understand the frustration of the other posters though. I'm not a saint, and I'm often feeling just as pissed off as the rest of you. There's extreme behavior on both sides. Family members who belong on the Jerry Springer show. Staff that avoid the basics- like baths, or helping an elderly patient with a food tray. It's hard not to have extreme emotions in response to all of this.


657 Posts

grouchy you are right. i also do what i can for patients WHEN time permits. i change channels, and i do fluff pillows. i even "tuck them in" lol

ive gone down to the vending machines and gift shops when i can. i was in traction for 2 months one time. my nurses did this sort of thing for me and i will always be grateful i try to give some of that back. not because i am a nurse, or for customer service, but because i am a compassionate human.


646 Posts

I must be cranky but I beg to differ. Getting ice water for patients when I'm running around taking care of rapid a-fib, suctionning trachs qh, having another pt in resp distress seems to me to be impossible. Maybe I'm just too damn slow.

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