So what do leaders in long-term care have to learn from Hotwire? I just found out during my trip to Texas. I went to Texas (Dallas & Houston) to introduce our company to 2 skilled nursing facilities that we were about to acquire (another post on those culture integration/introduction meetings later). My flights were booked for me correctly and I booked my hotel/car weeks later, the day before the trip. I got my cities mixed up. I landed in Dallas and started walking to the car rental and then suddenly had a flash of panic hit me when I realized that I’m supposed to continue on to Houston. I looked at my itinerary and discovered that, luckily, my next flight was in 30 minutes. I rushed to the other terminal. I had about 15 minutes before boarding. I called Hotwire.
I explained my situation. I admitted that I made the mistake when I booked the hotel & car for the wrong cities. What are my options?
- ‘No problem, Mr. Sedgwick, I can take care of that.’
- How so?
- With your permission I’ll cancel your reservations, book your hotel & car for the correct dates and cities, and waive the reservation cancellation fee.
- So … this isn’t going to cost me any penalty or fee? You’ll just make it right for me?
- Yes. You’re a loyal customer of ours and we’d like to keep it that way.
She did. I am. And, you should be too. Does travelocity, orbitz, expedia, etc. treat you like that? I don’t know … and, I have no interest or intention to find out. I’m Hotwired for life.
How does that relate to healthcare? One of the main problems with long-term care approaches to customer service is that, systemically speaking, our policies are usually drafted to reflect or agree with the regulations. So, we end up with very cold guidelines. Have you heard this exchange?
- My mom lost her earrings.
- I don’t know. I can’t find them anywhere. They were expensive.
- Were they on the inventory list?
- I don’t know.
- Well, I’m afraid if they’re not on the list, we can’t do anything about it.
The saying of stepping over dollars to pick up pennies also applies. The reality of these types of breakdowns is that it’s usually the facility’s fault. What an opportunity to exceed expectations! Where customer satisfaction is involved, the regulations come no where near a guideline. Rather, asking the simple question, ‘how would I hope to be treated?’ is all the guideline you need. Follow it. Always. You’ll turn around digruntled, distressed, disapointed customers and build loyalty and promoters.
Just like that one guy who became so loyal to Hotwire, he dedicated a blog post to sing their praises …