Not so long ago I met a business colleague in a hotel in Stoke-on-Trent. The experience was generally a good one (except for the price of the coffee) and after a couple of hours the meeting ended and I was on my way. I walked back to my car, happy and relaxed. I drove my car to the exit, only to find a barrier blocking my way and a keypad asking for the exit code. I didn’t have an exit code, I didn’t know about the exit code.
So now, frustrated and angry, I had to back up, re-park and walk back into the hotel and ask a member of staff for the exit code. This time I paid particular attention to any signs that I might have missed on my way out the first time… there weren’t any.
When I returned to my car, there were already another two hotel guests at the barrier, unable to exit because they had no code.
The impact of this failure in communication was HUGE, turning happy customers into angry customers within seconds. Yet, it was obvious that this scenario was being played out countless times a day in this hotel. However, nobody in the hotel seemed to be learning from it and, more importantly, acting on it. The solution was simple and easy to implement and could even have been turned into an additional positive experience (perhaps having small chocolates at the exit with the code number on the wrappers?)
Similarly, in a recent visit to a dental practice, one of the issues that was discussed was the fact that the dentist quite often blinded the patients with dental jargon. This problem was recognised by the treatment coordinator, who would then invest additional time with the patient to explain in layman’s terms what the dentist had been talking about. What she didn’t do was talk to the dentist about it and devise ways in which the problem could be avoided in the first instance.
This is a situation I see time and time again in practices across the country. Practice owners and staff being very aware of problems, being very aware of the causes of the problems, but dealing only with the symptoms.
The key to overcoming this cultural problem is to create an environment where issues are openly discussed (purely from a business perspective, not a personal one), and where team members are encouraged to generate, implement and monitor new ideas.
Try organising a monthly ‘problem-busting’ session with your team. Get them to identify the common mistakes that are being repeated too often and challenge them to be instrumental in devising a solution. Not only will you see an improvement in performance and productivity, but you’ll also have a more engaged and enthusiastic team who will take on more responsibility and look at the practice from a wider, more holistic viewpoint. Happy days!