I has a MRI scan yesterday. For anyone even slightly claustrophobic it’s a harrowing experience. You are slid into a very confined tube, which then makes intermittent, very loud banging and knocking noises for about 15 minutes. The radiographer was entirely professional, but failed to acknowledge that there might be anything stressful about the experience. And I wondered to myself if he had ever been slid into this machine himself? Maybe he would have a different attitude towards it – and his customers.
It reminded me of another occasion when I received professional medical service that lacked empathy. I had to have minor surgery, that left an open wound needing to be dressed every day for two weeks. On the first three occasions that nurses did this, it hurt like hell. When my reaction was to cry out in pain and to flinch, they clearly thought I was a total wimp. On the fourth occasion, a different nurse started the procedure. Her opening words were – “I’ve had a wound like this myself. It’s very painful when it’s being dressed, so I’ll try to be as careful as I can be”. To which I replied – “Thank you. I’d be grateful if you could share this information with your colleagues”.
Now I’m not suggesting that every trainee nurse should have surgery just so they can be more empathetic. But when feasible, service providers should experience the service from the users perspective. Let me give you another sample. I used to own and operate a restaurant. In this industry, the manager – and even the serving staff – should sit in every seat in the restaurant, in order to see what the customer sees. They might be surprised that customers can see into the toilets, or the sideboard stacked high with dirty crockery. Likewise, employees serving the food ought to have eaten it themselves, so they know what they are talking about from personal experience.
Now you may say – this is common sense. But you’d be surprised how often it does not happen. Especially since it is so easy and simple to do…