Show Your Mission (And Avoid the Pudding)

In Brief

If you attended any of the major CX events in 2018, there’s a decent chance you heard our founder, Max Israel, tell his pudding cup story. If not, well, you’re in for a treat.

Most of us have taken a trip to the hospital in our adult lives, perhaps just to visit a family member or simply to have some tests run. We’re all very familiar with the hectic hospital environment, and acutely aware of the responsibility of the people who keep these places from falling apart completely — the nurses.

Max made a visit to chat with a hospital chain and found that the nurses refused to even look at the feedback they were getting. He knew something needed to change.

his chain actually had a problem quite different than most; they had too much feedback. They were saturated with, quite frankly, sub-par feedback responses that few even bothered to look at anymore, much less consider.

Max sat down with one of the head nurses to get the scoop and what he discovered allowed him to not just improve the feedback, but to connect patients and providers in a way that altered how this hospital chain handled feedback as a whole.

The nurse cited an example from just a few days before, a feedback response that simply said, “Thanks for the pudding cup.” The nurse was livid. At first glance, this seems like a harmless comment, but Max would soon realize what really happened.

The patient in question was a woman in her mid-fifties, a mother of two teenagers who was the glue holding her family together. Not long before, she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. After delivering this tough news, her doctor let her know that they had a promising treatment plan for her, including surgery.

It’s easy to understand what this woman did next. She buried herself in being busy, spending the weeks leading up to the operation thinking about her husband and children, making all of the arrangements needed so that everything would go smoothly in her time away.

It wasn’t until after her hospital admission that the gravity of the situation sunk in as she sat in a surgery gown on her hospital bed. She wasn’t ready to leave her family and, honestly, was terrified of what might happen.

Enter our head nurse. With 20+ years of hospital experience, she recognized the situation immediately, knowing exactly what this woman was feeling. He responded without hesitation to almost effortlessly solve the problem. She grabbed a pudding cup from the food cart, dropped it on the patient’s lap, placed a hand on her shoulder, and spoke to her with the utmost sincerity.

“Hey, we’ve got you covered. You’re going to be okay. We’re going to take care of you.”

In that moment, there wasn’t a single person in that hospital more qualified for the job. This nurse’s years of experience, not only in the hospital but as a loving mother with a family at home, brought the patient relief. The patient trusted the nurse, relaxed, and realized that she was in good hands.

The surgery went just as planned and the patient went home, which brings us back to the conversation between Max and the nurse.

“All she mentioned was the damn pudding cup?”

This is where it clicked for Max — a disconnect that was hurting everyone involved. The hospital did everything right up until the moment of asking for feedback. The patient got the highest level of treatment and sensitive care, but the feedback process hurt the very people providing the most care to the patients.

These nurses have a strong sense of mission and are committed to working long hours and pushing themselves to their limits for their patients. Many worked harder than anyone else in the hospital, but somehow ended up feeling trivialized.

There is a huge learning opportunity here. What broke down was the connection between two groups of people. How could the patient have known that a comment like that would cause so much frustration and anger for her nurse? How much better could this all have been if the patients were put on the same page as the hospital staff and could understand where the nurses were coming from and what they put into their jobs?

When asking for feedback, you must proudly show your mission. At Customerville, we break this down into 3 steps to assure that we connect those giving and those receiving feedback.

1. Who is going to get this feedback?

Different groups have different needs and it’s important to understand where they are coming from.

2. What is their mission?

The forces that drive these employees says everything about what they need in customer feedback.

3. How can we convey this to the client/customer/patient?

Take the time to make this connection. Explain to the person giving feedback why this job is so important to the employee.

There are all kinds of ways to do this but, at Customerville, we use various design-driven feedback practices to make sure these connections occur across all touchpoints. The result? Clients give higher-quality feedback tailored to those who are going to receive it, resulting in employees who are happy to take the time to take that feedback into account to improve how they do their jobs.

The feedback won’t always be positive, but it’s going to be respectful and taken seriously by the employees who receive it.

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