My colleague was hit by a motorbike on Ngong Road this past Thursday and we ended up at the nearest hospital to seek treatment.  I was pleasantly surprised at how clean and sanitary the hospital was. Everything was spick and span and thankfully it was devoid of the dreaded ‘hospital’ smell of carbolic.  I had previously thought this the domain of the bigger and more established facilities. It was refreshing to encounter elsewhere.
We were very well received and requested to fill out forms and have a seat. After about ten minutes a list of names was shouted out from the reception area, my colleague being one of them, and we all trudged after an intern who said ‘Follow Me!”. We were led like sheep through some corridors to a waiting area and ‘dumped’ there with no further instructions. And here began our ‘blind folded’ journey. I say blindfolded because what followed was  a blind process of moving from department to department not knowing what next and at various points having to listen out for one’s name being shouted by the person manning the next station.
We proceed from this first point which turned out to be a triage area to  another waiting bay, then called out  by a receptionist then back to another waiting bay, then called out by the cashier then to another  waiting bay, then called out by a nurse, then seen by the doctor, then to another waiting area, then called out by the pharmacist, then back to the cashier’s waiting area, then called out by the cashier, then back to the pharmacy, then with medication in our hands, back to the doctors station, then to a waiting bay, then back to the doctors station once again then back to a waiting bay, then called up by a nurse to a different room then discharged. Whew! Aren’t you fatigued after reading all this even having not been there? Now imagine the patient who is ill doing this circuit?
And to make matters worse, at none of these stations were we told the reason for waiting there or what to do next. After the first two blind stops, we wisened up and deliberately asked at each point “What do we do after this?” And “Where do we go from here? And “What is the direction to that place?” The officers  we interacted with all looked bothered by these questions. They were already in the ‘next-patient-let’s-get-over-with-this queue’ mode and our questions interrupted their flow.
Patient Journey, Customer Journey, Guest Journey, Journey Journey Journey ……………….. It’s a song we need to sing. For those in the service industry – medical facilities, restaurants, hotels, salons, banks, telcos and any other facility where the customer has to make more than one stop,  it is critical to advise and ensure they  know the next step in their journey. Where possible, provide an escort to that next station. The customers will love it.  Explain to customers exactly what they are doing, where they are going and what to expect next. And the icing on the cake would be to advise the customer the expected waiting time at each stop.
Customers are always hungry for information. Keep them as informed as possible. Let them know what’s happening to them. The ‘three blind mice’ type of treatment doesn’t work. It will take time to explain and the repetitive nature of explaining to each customer will tire out the explainer, but this is good customer service basic need.
The smoothness of the customer journey and managing the customer’s expectations will determine their return or otherwise and determine whether they refer others to the facility or otherwise. And every business requires customer referrals. Customers are the drivers of business. The mathematics is simple. Unhappy customers do not come back and do not refer their friends and family. Customers who get lost in the system are not happy customers. It therefore incumbent upon organizations to tailor their systems and processes to make the customer’s journey easier and to have a service code in place to explain explain explain to the customer the process.
I will not tire of preaching the good gospel of customer education, and I am recruiting followers. Do you suppose I should go back there and look for their customer service manager?