Administration and Leadership, EMS Today

Brett Lyle Challenges the Notion that Patients Shouldn’t be Treated as Customers at EMS Today 2016

Brett Lyle, Medstar Mobile Healthcare’s Business Development Manager, opened her EMS Today 2016 session with a short clip from the classic movie Alice in Wonderland. In the clip, Alice needed help from the Caterpillar, but because she didn’t take time to get to know him, she offended him and ultimately had to fend for herself in attempting to make the right decision. She missed an opportunity for guidance because she failed to get to know her audience.

“So, who are YOU?” Lyle asked the room full of people. She explained that in time, she realized that the title of her session may cause some level of discomfort, and then polled the audience find out, “Does it make you uncomfortable to hear a patient called a customer?”

Learning that the room was fairly divided, she offered a few scenarios, and asked the audience to decide if the person in question would be a patient or a customer. Still receiving mixed responses, she asks, “at what point does a patient become a customer, or a customer become a patient?” She discusses the identity crisis we currently face, as an industry, “Are we EMS, or public safety, or healthcare?” but urges the audience to let go of word-associations and sensitivities, and just to embrace the fact that regardless of how we are titled, or what we call the people we interact with, it is all about service and it has to be great!

Introducing Psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham’s Johari Window and the blind spot concept, she posed the questions, “Do you know your blind spots? Do you know your customers’ perceptions of your service? Do they align with your reality?” 

Lyle walked through the details of the customer service survey she and her teams created and implemented, and the process through which they defined the questions they would ask.

“You cannot NOT communicate”, she offered, and suggested that if you don’t ask the question, learn your blind spots, and work towards becoming a better partner to your customer, someone else will.

“Great service is an on-going cycle; just as fast as information flows, perceptions, and realities change, and we have to be ready and willing to change and adapt with the times, if we want to stay relevant,” Brett explains.   

Service Survey Process:

1.      Know your audience/customer

2.      Design a way to capture and measure their perceptions

3.      Develop a plan to address your findings

4.      Communicate your plan back to the customer

5.      Repeat