I have grappled with this question for a while. Should I be forgiving when being serviced by a federal or provincial agency in Canada? Knowing how difficult finances are and where the limited funds are being invested, is it reasonable to expect a certain level of service when interacting with them? What should my rights be as a patient or advocate on behalf of a patient? What is the expected customer experience? Let's explore.
I recently needed to speak with a division of the federal government. I called their published 800 number however they were experiencing high call volumes and waiting on hold was not presented as an option for me; I was forced to disconnect and try again later. Let me say this again, an agency of the federal government was unreachable on four separate occasions and did not provide me the opportunity to wait on hold for someone who could help. And there was no emergency the IVR made me aware of. Is that acceptable?
I don't think so. While I can sympathize with the limited funds available to staff their Call Centre appropriately, I cannot accept that a better, more efficient way to ensure callers could reach this agency was not available. I called on four separate occasions, each on a different day and time. I challenge our federal government to review its Call Centre operations across all agencies because this experience isn't good enough.
Shortly after this experience, I dealt with a medical emergency on behalf of a family member, which led to me to dive deeper into our medical system's customer experience. While part of the experience was quite positive, especially the care provided by the doctors and nurses, other areas could have been better, including:
I can only imagine the complexities involved in running a hospital, let alone what the staff go through helping the sick and managing their anxious family and friends. That said, I am still going to challenge them to Be Better. I know budgets are tight but I don't think as patients and advocates we are asking for anything that isn't manageable. Here are five inexpensive ways hospitals can improve their patient/customer experience:
The above are not expensive to implement and a good way to start improving things, Moreover, several can be applicable to all public service organizations. Our public agencies can Be Better and while I empathize with the challenges they face, I believe they should hold themselves to delivering the best possible patient/customer experience. This is even more important when we are at our most vulnerable (e.g. when in a hospital).
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