a nurse with a syringe

This is(n’t) going to hurt

Another day, another trip to my doctor for a blood test… yep, getting old requires taking my aging body in for maintenance with what seems like increasing frequency. But my day was brightened by an excellent interaction with the practice nurse extracting another armful. Here’s what made it great:

  1. A cheerful greeting.
  2. She acknowledged that this was the second test in a few days.
  3. We had a conversation about singing with choirs and performing on stage – two of my favourite topics.

Let’s unpack this because although the whole thing took less than 5 minutes and seems quite inconsequential, it carries important messages about great customer experience.

1. Reasons to be cheerful

Looking back on some recent blood tests it occurs to me that all the phlebotomists/nurses I have seen have been pretty bright and breezy. I don’t think there’s anything inherently cheerful about extracting blood from someone’s arm but it certainly puts you at ease and makes it more likely that the procedure will go smoothly.

So it makes sense to add value to a routine transaction by having a cheerful demeanour but if you think back on the number of interactions you have with front line staff that are just, well, routine and how much better you and the person in question would feel as a result it seems bizarre that organisations don’t all encourage this behaviour.

2. You’re more than a number…

Acknowledging that I had been in recently for a blood test might seem like a small thing but it showed that the nurse was interested in more than just taking blood. Building a relationship with a customer doesn’t necessarily require a sophisticated system or AI-driven analysis to make it work. Sometimes simple connection is enough.

3. Everybody hurts

We were so busy chatting about the nurse’s daughter’s upcoming school performance and my choir’s gig at the Boat Race that I hardly noticed the “small scratch” as the needle went in. I’m not that squeamish or nervous about these things but it was still nice to have the distraction.

None of the above required a massive effort on the part of the nurse but in a world where opinions on healthcare are shaped by TV programmes and news coverage that emphasise the stress that staff are under it’s good to know that cheeriness is also still available on the NHS.

The good feeling generated by my 5 minute blood test lasted throughout the day. Imagine what that could do for your organisation if every interaction had the same outcome.

Customer experience isn’t complicated: it’s about encouraging the right attitudes in your staff so if the feedback from your customers doesn’t seem positive, it may be time to think about how cheerful you’re being with your team.

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