Pick a Cheek

Recently, my family and I were in North Carolina when my wife had an allergic reaction on her face. As a doctor, I knew she needed a steroid shot. I got on Google and looked up urgent care clinics nearby. There were several. Since it was already 8pm, I found one that closed at 8:30. We hurried and arrived by 8:15pm.

Our experience described below highlights a major gap we have many times as leaders. Although we may be delivering a good service, we consistently miss the mark in training our people to provide excellent customer service. This article is not written to be critical of that specific clinic, but to use this experience to learn from, as leaders. We are all susceptible to this kind of mishap.

The clinic was clean. They had a prayer request box at the front. I was impressed so far. The three people sitting at the front desk were not very welcoming, not even smiling. Maybe that?s their modus operandi, but I understood. I know first hand that after a twelve-hour shift, they must be ready to go home. The doctor was very nice. After examining my wife, she ordered a shot.

Pick a Cheek

When the nurse came back with the injection, she asked my wife, ?Which side would you like it in?? It was one of those shots that has to be administered in the glute. My wife looked at me and paused no more than three seconds to take in the fact that she was about to get a shot. She was not feeling well.

So the nurse said, ?Come on, pick a cheek. I am ready to go to bed.? It was about 8:40 by that time. The nurse was not mean about it, but it was not a joke either. She was pushing my wife to decide so she could go home. She meant what she said. I did not say anything to them, but since I am in that business (owning medical clinics), her comment struck me as way outside of what common courtesy would dictate.

We got the shot and left. Joanne was better the next day. Once home, I shared this story with our management team, and it quickly became a source of a quick laugh?Come on, pick a cheek.? I knew this would be a reminder to me and to our team of something never to do.

Three Levels of Service

How do you ensure that your staff goes the second mile for your people, and not say comments like that? Let me share with you the system we employ.

The system we have is called Second Mile Service. This comes from Jesus? teaching, where he says in Matthew 5:42, ?If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.? Meaning, if someone?s expectation is for you to go with them one mile?exceed their expectation?be generous. Go a second mile.

I want to share it with you because if you are in the customer service business, and most organizations have customers of some sort, you must have continual training. Here?s what we mean by Second Mile Service.

There are three levels of service.

Zero Mile Service
One Mile Service
Second Mile Service

What is Zero Mile Service?

Giving people less than expected. Our nurse gave us Zero Mile Service. While I do not expect staff members to be enthused when patients come in at the last minute, I certainly don?t expect snarky remarks.

What is One Mile Service?

It is giving people what they expect. So if people at the front desk were cordial, and my wife had gotten a shot without the ?pick a cheek? remark, we would have received One Mile Service.

What is Second Mile Service?

Exceeding expectations. In this case, being warm and friendly at the front desk. When we said, ?Sorry we came in at the last minute,? to respond, ?Of course! We are here to serve you. You are welcome.? And, if my wife cannot ?pick a cheek? fast enough, that the nurse would wait as long as needed.

The message here is not to punish that person, but rather to create a second mile culture. It was clear to us that the urgent care we visited was a faith-based organization whose founder, at least from appearances, would want to treat people well, not only from a profit stand point, but from a spiritual aspect. Why don?t they? Perhaps it was an off-night, or maybe they just haven?t had a consistent training program that enforces that kind of culture.

So how do you do it? Write down the principles that are important to you. Talk about them. Demonstrate them. Enforce them?from the top down.

Your Friend,
Wes Saade MD Signature

For Further Reading:

An Uncommon Response in Customer Service
One Secret that Guarantees Outstanding Customer Service

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