What's all the fuss about customer service???

Nurses Relations


Why are so many nurses complaining about introducing a customer service component into our nursing care?! When I am a patient, I am also a customer, as I am paying for my stay. And it is true, if a patient is satisfied with their care, they will often refer others to our hospitals.

True-nurses run themselves ragged performing patient care duties, charting, etc. But it really does not add any significant amount of time smiling at people in the hallway, asking people if they need directions somewhere, responding to call lights in a timely manner. The healthcare system I was employed with provides a full day of training for employees re: customer service. The hospital I currently work at also expects a customer service attitude to be displayed at work. It really is an eye-opener seeing the little things you can say or do to make a difference! On the way back from lunch, ask someone who looks lost if they need assistance! Answer a coworkers call-light if it's been going off with nobody in sight. Answer the phone with a smile-and follow through on what is needed rather than just put someone on terminal hold or transfer the call immediately elsewhere. Having a positive attitude, as well as seeing a positive attitude in your coworkers, makes it alot more pleasant to go to work each day! Try it!

It does not mean the patient knows "it all"-but they do have a right to take the information you give them and make decisions with you, understanding why you are providing certain care/procedures! They have a right to have a say (to a certain degree, of course) re: a daily schedule. We all learned in nursing school that giving the patient choices in certain aspects of their care aids in healing, increases compliance in care, and increases patient satisfaction. Nursing and customer service really are not exclusive to one another! It doesn't mean you must cater to every whim of every person you come in contact with-but you can easily, and politely say "Oh, I'm sorry, we are only able to supply diapers for patients, but there is a drug store right down the road which should have everything you need." or "I'm afraid I'm unable to get you (a visitor) a cup of coffee, because I am here to take care of my patients, but I can show you where the coffeepot is, or give you directions to our cafeteria."

So-what is all the fuss about becoming more customer service oriented? It does not diminish our roles as nurses, but instead makes us better members of an increasingly rude society!


131 Posts


I totally support you. I believe that as human beings we should treat others as we want to be treated and you put it so well. I hope others will follow.NA smile.gif


125 Posts

I have no problems with customer service. But, I bet the person who asked the nurse to change the baby's diaper got a little miffed when she was told no. Who, in their right mind, would ask a total stranger to change their baby's diaper? (If my baby's diaper need changed, I'd have asked where I can get one, not do it for me.) Smiles are free and I love to pass them around. How many times have you smiled at a patient's family member and got a glare back instead? Plenty for me. Yet, I keep on smiling, they're still free, and make me feel better (most of the time). My company also has done and is doing classes to promote customer service with our staff. It is a great idea, I just wish the administration would show some of it to us. We are, upon occasion, the customer too, as you said.

To sum the whole concept up in two words:

common courtesy

Or the

"golden rule"

Treat others like you would like to be treated. Fairness, it's a wonderful thing. Unfortunately, life isn't fair. And, many times I haven't been treated with respect as I should have, and it is hard to deal with someone who is being unrealistic. It is hard, but do-able, and a necessary part of nursing.

The patient deserves to know what is wrong with them and all the options of treatments. And, yes they need to hear them from us, but they need the doctor to talk with them and do their job adequately. Many times the doctor can't wait to get out of the unit and miss the family entirely, thereby leaving us to do their teaching.

At the day long class we took, there was one game that I thought was a real eye-opener: There were about 20 math problems on a page. Everyone had their paper turned over at the same time and had to get as many problems done as possible in 30 seconds. Guess how many people did it right? Only one or two, cause the instructions said to subract when there was an addition sign, add for a subtraction sign, etc. Who had time to read the instructions, we were all too busy trying to get all the work done in a short amount of time. Gee, that sounds like what we do isn't it, yet we have to read the directions to know what the orders are. Do you think administration learned a lesson from that little test? Nope, but they should have. (And, I bet they had fun at Disney Land's facility, where they learned how to teach us this class.)


25 Posts

I've always felt that 'customer service' is a part of my job, and I don't think any class can teach what's really important. If an employee doesn't practice this, then I think its a matter between that person and management. Our institution has recently started a big program based on this, as if it wasn't already being done by the majority - and they've publicized this as tho it was something new.

I've been known to get coffee for a family member - if they're in a terrible situation and thats the only thing I can do for them - I've also gotten food for them from the patient supply under the same circumstances, and I'm not the only one. But now with all this publicity, lots of people come in who feel that they can walk all over the staff, and management lets it happen.

One family who only lived a few blocks from the hospital would come in every nite and take a shower in the staff facilities. They would request a bottle of shampoo for everyone. I finally told them that the supplies were for the patients.

I've had casual visitors tell me they didn't bring money to buy food. I'm sorry - I get tired of it. I'm there to take care of the patient #1 and to help their immediate family as I can, but I don't have time to provide personal care to everyone who comes in to visit.

Most visitors aren't a problem, but the ones who are, are big time. I get tired of having to clean up after them - do they throw trash around like that at home? And frequently they are there to socialize, and pay little attention to the patient.

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