Wednesday, May 13, 2009

BOA sequel, and lessons for here

Dave, the Bank of America Twitter guy, was really helpful on the phone. He not only arranged for a provisional credit of my deposit (remember the three checks that were eaten by the ATM?), but he also explained that the clerk with whom I talked really was obliged under federal electronic banking laws to take my claim -- even though she refused to because I was not able to tell her exactly how much each check was written for. He also confirmed the point I had made with her that there must certainly be a reconciliation by the bank of the checks in the ATM and the total deposits made that day -- and so my three checks would show up in that daily audit. And, since the checks have my name and address on them, tracking them back to me shouldn't be that hard.

While I was walking in NYC today, (see post below) I was relating all of this while phoning my friend Lisa in Boston. Further, I mentioned that I was lucky to have had cash in my wallet for my day trip to the City, because the new debit card was going to take five days to arrive. "Oh," she said, "They didn't tell you that they could produce a new one immediately for you if you had gone to a teller at the bank?" Er, no, in fact, the first clerk I talked to made no mention of that option.

Dear readers, I report all this to you not to cast aspersions on this bank or the people working there. I understand, from my own organization, that the provision of consistently high service quality can be difficult. But the problem I encountered at the bank is not unique or even unusual. Both people with whom I talked had a clear view of all of my account information and could see that my account was in good order and that I was a long-term customer of the bank. Both were also extremely pleasant and polite. But neither one helped me to the extent they might have, and, in fact, both led me astray and left me dissatisfied with the experience -- even to the point of wondering whether I should switch my banking to one of those local community banks where they promise to know you personally.

But the main reason I am writing this is to provide a reminder to our staff here at the hospital and to those of you in other places like ours. When a patient presents you with a problem or concern, "Tag, you're it!" Listen closely, and then do what it takes to satisfy that person's issues or complaint. Each of us is an ambassador for our institution. It can take only one bad experience to sour a person's view of the place, even after years of positive treatment.


Anonymous said...

Paul, as an RN discharge coordinator in a large teaching hospital, it's a difficult task trying to solve problems all day. I wish the tasks were as small as a few deposited items, that will, in time have a paper trail.

Being "it" all day long, whatever the occupation, is a difficult and often unrewarding position.

That said, BOA needs to hire some empathic employees! ;) lol

Anonymous said...

I am totally sympathetic. You are at the center of some of the most difficult and stressful situations! Indeed, I often marvel at how well that job is done at BIDMC. And, unlike the virtually identical case of lost checks, every case you handle is different -- with a huge diversity of patients, medical conditions, life circumstances, and the like. Many thanks.

Reality Rounds said...

Since I am a nurse/mom with a kindergartner and preschooler, I like your "Tag, Your It" analogy. I see many staff playing "keep away" with questioning patients (if I don't make eye contact, they'll go away), or "catch me if you can" (if I walk down the hall really fast no one will stop me to ask a question). I have also seen "hide and don't go seek" and "dodge-the-question ball." Wouldn't it be great if everyone played nicely with others?

Scotty said...

Dear Paul and clinical from previous post..After more than 5 years working at BIDMC (as of a few weeks ago, actually) there is but one experience I had that truly shows what "little" things can do for a patient. A unit assistant in the ED at the time I recall a woman in the hallway waiting to get to a floor (we had 25 in the waiting room, beds were in the 400's, and it was tight!) who motioned for me as I passed by running from zone to zone. She said "I see you over there, so busy, like everyone else... but I am so tired, and just want to get some sleep".
It was so reasonable, so simple (from her eyes anyway - that is key here) so I responded "Ms. Smith, you have my word that you will be in a bed within a half hour; is that ok?". She said "yes, and thank you so much for just stopping and reminding me that I wasn't alone". For me this was an odd state, for I was surrounded by literally dozens of coworkers. BUT…SHE felt alone, wanted a quite place to sleep, and I had 28 minutes to deliver. So I switched to customer service mode - spoke with nurses, paged residents, called the floor myself, and may have rushed what would have normally been a “low-acuity” and “routine” admission… but I gave her my word, as an agent of BIDMC; Ms. Smith was in her bed in about 20 minutes or so.
In the chaos that was that evening it probably took me about 5 minutes or so to forget, taking on the next set of tasks - but she didn't. The following day I was on my way into work walking down Pilgrim road passing the Farr entrance and heard "Scott!....Scott!". There, was Ms. Smith, getting some fresh air on the bench while waiting for the "all clear" on her for discharge. She called me over to thank me. She told me that the nurses on the floor were so nice, her room so comfortable, and that she couldn't thank me enough for working "so hard" to help her. I smiled and told her "I'm glad you got some sleep, and am always happy to help".
That was probably 3 or so years ago (I'm 25, btw) but I'll never forget how great it felt to work in a hospital – to have that kind of impact even in working in such a “small” capacity.
Paul – what connected your BOA story to mine is that we (BOA and BIDMC) do share a common goal: Higher Standards. I have no idea who she banks with, but I am confident that (should the need arise) I know who she’ll choose for her future care…

Sharon Rose said...

Wow! Excellent way to present good customer service to your staff and everyone else who reads this post!
Sorry for the inconvenience. However, by turning this into something positive and reflecting on how everyone could treat people better, it will cause me to think twice!

Anonymous said...

Great point!!!...It the WHOLE experience while at your hospital that your patients will remember. I am not a hospital employee but a service representative and since I am in a suit and in the hospital I am often asked questions or directions which I do my best to answer or at least flag down an employee to help the patient out. Even though we don't work for the hospital they assume we do work for the I try to help and it's part of being a good person to help others and it can reflect bad on your client hospital if you don't help.

Anonymous said...

And acceptance of being "it" applies to the doctors too. At the flagship hospital of the "best" hospital system in my area, an elderly relative with a hot gallbladder has been punted back and forth between specialists for 3 weeks now, during two hospital admissions - both occurring from the ED after 2 separate outside docs wouldn't listen to the symptoms. (Predictably, both began on Friday afternoons). I can't count the communication screw-ups between the physicians that have taken place. My view of this hospital system and the doctors in it has totally and permanently changed for the worse, Just think, my colleagues, if it were YOUR relative.

nonlocal MD

Anonymous said...

Paul, did you see this

Given that you've pushed for this for a while and also that BIDMC already does this, thought you'd be excited and might want to share with readers of your blog.


Anonymous said...

You make an excellent point. I work in communications at a large hospital and your post hits home because when staff members are unable answer questions it points to a breakdown in communications. Obviously, the messages aren't being conveyed well enough or often enough if staff don't know answers or where to go to get the answers.

Anonymous said...

I once had a totally useless nurse manager who gave me a piece of advice that I try to live every day (so maybe he wasn't so useless after all). He told me it was not enough to meet expectations, that you had to exceed those expectations because THAT is what people would remember. If the experience is bad, it's never forgotten. The same goes for an experience that went beyond what the "norm" would be. That's never forgotten, either.
Both of your BOA experiences underscore the fact that neither of those employees went the "extra" step to get your situation settled. It would have taken, what, 5 minutes to get you set with a new ATM card? Maybe they will see the postings and make more of an effort next time.