Recently, I dealt with a problem: A serious lack of customer service.
I was at a local large chain pharmacy the other day. I went in there for one thing: A single scoop of ice cream. I walked over to the ice cream counter. There was nobody there, customer or employee. There were people in line to purchase other items, and the line was a bit long. The cashiers noticed me, but continued on helping the customers in their line. There was no bell for me to tap to alert someone who may be working in an other place in the store that I was there. I stood there for 8 minutes with no one saying a word to me.
Finally, one of the cashiers requested assistance at the ice cream counter. Literally, within 15 seconds, a woman turned the corner and came over behind the counter. She didn’t have anything on that identified her as working for the store. No tag, no vest, nothing. I would have assumed she was a customer if she hadn’t gone behind the counter. I said, “Helllo”, and the first thing from her mouth was, “We don’t have anything else but what is here. What we have is what we have.” And the way she said it was, well, quite rude. And her hands were on her hips while she said that to me. Body language.
Whoa. Not “Hello”, not “I’m sorry, but we don’t have very many flavors right now.”, or “How can I help you?” No. I get the feeling that I am taking time away from HER because I want to purchase something they sell. I pointed to what I thought was strawberry yogurt, and asked for one scoop. “That’s NOT strawberry. That’s blueberry.”, she said. Funny. The sign says it is strawberry. OK, no problem. Blueberry is fine. “How many scoops do you want?”. One, I repeated. She asked if I wanted it in a cone or cup. Cup, please. I stayed polite. Even though clearly I didn’t want to be.
Once she handed me the ice cream and I paid, I leaned foreward and told her quietly, “You might want to approach customers in a different manner. Put bluntly, I felt verbally attacked by you and not valued as a customer.” She handed me my change and receipt, and told me, “Have a nice day.”, with a smirk on her face.
Something on the receipt caught my eye. Rite Aid wanted to know via survey my customer experience. So, I went to their website, and told them what I told you here. Was she having a bad day? Or does she treat everyone like that? Was the last customer she dealt with rude to her, so I got her backlash? I don’t know. But I did let the corporation know what occurred.
Why do I mention this here?
EMS is all about customer service.
Yes, I said it. And I believe it.
We don’t typically call them customers, but they are. We are providing a service to them. We go to someone who is requesting assistance. We provide care. We transport them, or we treat them and release them at times. But we are providing them with a service. We may be tired, feeling crappy, got yelled at by the previous patient, or even by others we work with. We may have a family issue going on and don’t really want to be at work. But we are there. I’ve heard EMTs and paramedics tell patients, “Well, do you want to go to the hospital or not?”, “Get on the gurney”, “Really, again?”. All of these with a tone in their voice that says, “I really don’t want to assist you”. That’s not acceptable. I don’t care if it is the same person 3 times in one day. We need to treat our patients respectfully, and that we value them. Our body language needs to state that we are there to assist them as well.
Yes, there are taxi calls, there are abusers of the system. There are those who are belligerent, angry, and want to hurt us. There are times where we have to say to them, “I want to provide you care, but you need to do something for me to do this for you.” And then outline what we need them to do. Or something to that effect. At times, yes, we need to take control of a patient. That happens. But most of the time, they want help. And we are there to provide it.
Once in a while, you hear about a patient encounter, good or bad. Most of the time, you don’t. Just like any other customer-oriented business, you may hear more complaints than praise. Your customer may not remember that you were nice. They WILL remember when you are not.