Sunday, September 5, 2010

Strange Today...The Expectation of Tomorrow

Happy Labor Day Weekend. I am in Milwaukee for a couple of days to surprise a friend for his birthday. I'll fill you in on the birthday weekend in a later blog entry.

With 2 weeks left until my first Half Ironman triathlon, I headed out this morning for my last brutal workout before the taper phase. I went out for a 15 mile run and 1.3 mile swim and it provided me some time to think about service (actually that is what popped into my head - one never knows what will come to mind during a long stretch of time). Along the route, I came across a golf course where my 'birthday' friend was playing. I saw the 'cart person' come around and stopped her. I asked her to relay a message to my friend when she saw him...within 15 minutes, I received a call from him that the message was received. I was very impressed that the message was provided so quickly. She was truly wired for service.

Then, I made a stop for some water at a restaurant and the people working there were so nice even though I technically wasn't buying anything. They treated me well knowing I may be back after the workout or another day for lunch - a potential future customer.

After the run, I went to swim and tried out a gym where I had a pass. Wow, there was essentially a full spread continental breakfast in the locker room. It was clear to me why people spent just as much time in the locker room as they did working out. Again, taking note that organizations are continuously elevating the bar to ensure customers stay loyal to them.

After the swim (and a bagel and coffee to go), I headed to Bayshore Mall. If you haven't been to Milwaukee recently, or ever, this is a totally new look than 5 years back. There were many shops and restaurants. I was really impressed with the Apple Store. I walked into the store a saw a huge crowd of people. Halfway into the store, I thought this was going to take too long so I almost turned around to leave. Just then, one of the sales people, asked me if he could help, found what I needed and went to ring me up. I asked if I had to wait in the long line at the front. He indicated they now could check me out from his 'office' located anywhere in the store. With his hand device, he scanned the product and my credit card and emailed my receipt within a couple of minutes. He said, 'what seems strange now, will be the expectation in the future.' He is right...think about the start of credit cards at the gas station pumps, the increased use of ATMs instead of walking into the bank, self check-out at the grocery stores...obviously, these are just a few basics but the world has changed what we expect from the time we thought 'this seems strange'.

This is how we will have to change how we do things in our healthcare system. Yes, things have evolved and technology has helped. However, we do still have a ways to go to ensure we provide the experience our patients, physicians and associates expect every time they are in the hospital. We also need to look at ways to make things more forward thinking and intuitive based on where we expect the next set of expectations.

I look forward to hearing the forward thinking changes your organizations are making towards those next set of expectations.

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