The Customer is NEVER Right - A Nurse Practitioner's Perspective
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A friend sent me the following link, “Nurse has license suspended for ordering wrong sandwich”. As I read the article I thought it was not possible. But then I thought, “Or could it?” Not that anyone would lose his license over such innocent mistake or even if the event were intentional that such insignificant event would justify someone losing her license either. Instead, what I thought was, could someone lose her JOB over such innocent mistake or insignificant event, whether intentional or not, although in the article the event was clearly unintentional? Sadly, the obvious answer was, “YES!”

Why YES? Simple. Healthcare administrators are obsessed with the customer experience. To them that is all that matters and everything else is insignificant, to include the medical care provided! Because of that idiotology [sic], that customers come first and everything else follows, more and more healthcare organizations are employing so-called “zero-tolerance” customer service policies. That obsession with the customer experience over their employees being the exaggeration and ridicule in the mentioned article, which is satire. For those who did not notice the article purposefully takes a stab at exposing and criticizing such stupid policies.

In the book, none of which was satire, I mention one such organization where I worked at as locums where the organization’s bylaws required healthcare workers to apologize, in writing, to any patient who complained. A policy I found not only favors customers over employees but, more so, was established to tell employees they are replaceable, regardless the employee’s contribution to the organization or the financial burden the organization would endure in finding a replacement.

Ironically, many organizations include in their organizational vision statement, “Our people are our most important asset”. However, despite that document hanging in every manager’s office, I been told, over and over, yes, repetitively, that conflicts between customer satisfaction and healthcare workers jeopardizes the organization’s goal of customer retention. So then, what is the significance of including the words, “Our people are our most important asset”, when the administration ALWAYS sides with customers over employees?

The previously mentioned aside, the article’s mockery was not what caught my attention. Instead, what caught my attention was the article’s DRAMA. Although I did not ask, I believe the article caught my friend’s attention as well and why the article was forward to me. However, without asking I cannot tell if my friend, who read “The Customer is NEVER Right”, was in disbelief that a healthcare worker would lose his license over something so innocent or insignificant or that my friend also noticed the DRAMA the article would cause among healthcare workers. Nonetheless, I found the article’s DRAMA was quite the attention getter regardless if it was that I was simply oversensitive due to the theme of the article.

Because of the article I came up with the idea, which is never a good thing, to put a previous thought to the test. The week before I had highlighted a different article, “5 Things Your Nurse Wants You to Know (But Can Never Tell You)”, on the book’s Facebook pageHowever, although I thought the “5 Things…” article was the “Holy Grail” to healthcare’s yearning, not only to be in the customer-service business but more so what healthcare administrator’s long for, profits, the article’s promotion on Facebook fell flat.

Because of the disappointing turn out I composed a separate blog where I highlighted the “5 Things…” article’s depressing promotion. In that blog I hinted that the reason the promoted article flopped was because the “5 Things…” article lacked DRAMA. However, that was only my hunch and not something I could put my finger on per se.

Things were worse when a different posting on Facebook, about healthcare directed violence, flopped as well despite I thought the extremely disappointing topic would get others to talk. But once again, and repetitive, nothing! The posting gained no traction and only reached 13 people.

So when the “Nurse has license suspended for ordering wrong sandwich” article showed up and I noticed all the DRAMA it had a light bulb lit up. Immediately I thought, what reaction would I get if I posted a bogus article, rather than the serious ones I been posting? With that thought in mind I posted the article on Facebook to see if what sells and gets the attention of others is DRAMA over significance and earnestness.

Than, without even promoting the posting as I had done with the "5 Things... article, BOOM! It took off! It did not necessarily go viral. However, within five minutes there was a comment. Something that had NEVER happened! Interestingly, the first comment came from a different friend, who had also read “The Customer is NEVER Right”. Surprised that the first comment came in so fast, I messaged that friend to let her know the article was not only satire but that my intent with publishing the article was somewhat of a non-scientific experiment to see if the article’s DRAMATIC title and content caught anyone’s attention, besides the choir.

A side note for those who unknowingly participated in the experiment, I apologize that you were not informed of my intent with the bogus Facebook post. However, the fact you engaged the post is priceless and to those who posted comments your comments are very much appreciated. Now, if I can only get you and those you recruit to participate not only in the significant and earnest blogs and articles that are posted on Facebook and in The Customer is NEVER Right blog but more so as companions to getting healthcare back.

Anyhow, along with the sandwich article I added a visual of a quote from Bell Hooks that read, “I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to somebody else’s whim or to someone else’s ignorance.” I added the quote not only as my response to the content of the article, as I mentioned in the Facebook posting, but more so as my non-apologetic response to EVERYTHING customer experience and more intended for healthcare administrators who lack the backbone to support their employees versus catering to exaggerated unrealistic emotional expectation. Behavior those same administrators would not allow from their children at home.

Well, did the non-scientific experiment work? I would have to say unequivocally YES! DRAMA does sell. How do I know? Well, previously the posting with the greatest organic reach was 140 people and that happened to be the article that got this all started in the first place, the “5 Things…” article. Despite that posting was promoted and reached another 2,914 through paid advertisement, for a combined total of 3,054 when the 140 organic reached are included, there was only a single comment.

On the other hand, the sandwich article posting reached just under 700 organic views within the first 24 hours and generated seven comments, to include one from my loving sister, which I appreciated very much and believe she was showing support for her troubled brother. Nonetheless, 140 to 700 is a significant difference and the difference was the DRAMA the sandwich article contained as I have not posted DRAMA before.

However, despite all the attention initially, that attention came to a screeching halt as if the posting had disappeared. On top of that, the seven comments made were within the first 12 hours of the posting and no new comments were added by the second day, the same day the numbers reached had topped off at 724.

What did the sudden disregard for the posting mean? Unsure as that is a different variable that would need further exploring. However, it is possible that although some who the posting reached were likely up in arms it is likely most realized the article was medical satire and so they dismissed the possibility or significance of someone losing her license over such minutia.

That being said, allow me to ask, how is it any different that a healthcare worker is fired because of “zero-tolerance” policies as to having his license suspended? Why do I ask? Because, one, of many, collateral misfortunes to the customer experience idiotology [sic] is a healthcare worker being dismissed or asked to resign due to she is seen as a greater risk to an organization rather than a benefit.

In the book, I mentioned that a healthcare worker might be at fault or have caused a sentinel event, to include a patient’s death, however, the incident is likely swept under the carpet if the healthcare worker has no customer complaints against them. I could only wish that were a disgruntle employee’s twisted claim, unfortunately and disgusting at the same time, those are not my words as I been told such by a number of medical directors.

A point I missed to mention in the book is a rebuttal to the following claim, “Law suits follow those with the most customer service complains.” Although I agree with the claim, which is well documented in the literature and administrators pull that card every time a patient complains, I would question, “Of all the law suits against the less compassionate and less caring of us, as we are so commonly labeled, how many of those law suits are granted to the plaintiff versus the defendant? Seems like a simple number to extract, yet not mentioned any where in the literature or ever considered by administrators to ask.

On the other side of the mentioned paradigm, with regard to the least compassionate and least caring, I ask, “How many sentinel events are caused by those of us labeled as misanthropic versus the most liked, those without customer complaints?” But of course, no one thinks of asking the tough questions.

Nonetheless, with regard to whether DRAMA sells or gets the attention of others, I would have to say that DRAMA, over serious facts, overwhelmingly sells and gets the attention of others. That is so sad! However, I will continue to not have my life defined by others or diminished nor will I bow down to the whim or ignorance of others either.

Again, thank you for coming and come again.

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