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Dr. Tomaino's Blog

The "Ritz" brand of "customer service" ought to be a model for Health Care Providers

March 14th, 2010
I was invited to give a lecture on the treatment of thumb pain after unsuccessful "basal joint" surgery at the American Society for Surgery of the Hand "Specialty Day" yesterday--March 13--in New Orleans. This is held on the final day of the annual meeting of the AAOS (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons) each year. You'll note on the bottom of the Shoulder and Elbow Care sections on this website a link to the AAOS website for information about various conditions and treatments.

Anyway, weather, among other logistical problems, resulted in my arrival in Atlanta some 5 hours late----and my connecting flight to New Orleans was not scheduled to depart until 130am saturday morning---without any guarantees. Faced with the real potential that I might arrive at 3am only to be delayed again on Delta, through Atlanta today---and in light of the fact that I was traveling with my son and wife, I elected to stay in Atlanta for the remainder of friday eve, and to come back home to Rochester saturday. I was able to contact a colleague who adeptly delivered my lecture, having uploaded the powerpoint slides earlier in the week.

Well---not only did the Delta representative want to charge a "rebook" fee x3-----but he erroneously placed us on a flight on Wed!!!! It took 6 calls to the Customer service number yesterday (got nearly through all the prompts each time only to hear a "hang up"), but then we were informed that we had to wait till 930PM last night to return.

The saving grace was the Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead. We booked a room friday night from the airport, and the next 18 hours proved to be a tutorial on "exceeding expectations." This began at 11pm on friday night-- when the desk clerk literally walked us to the elevator and promised to bring a Wii (sp?) up for my son to use the next morning, and extended to the next day when they granted us a late check out without charge till 5pm. When my son and I contemplted using the pool--they offered to run across the street to the mall to purchase a swimsuit for him.

Everyone who "interfaced" with me oozed a commitment to "exceed the customer's expectations". It was as if it was part of the DNA of the Ritz's employees.

Well, as we in healthcare are faced with changes---whether it's "ObamaCare" or whatever, the "offering" will, I think, be increasingly "institutionalized" and underwhelming. Many will insist that it's out of their control. Some will say they are overburdened by paperwork and others may claim that they are not reimbursed sufficiently.

So too do relevant issues challenge Marriot, Hyatt, Intercontinental etc etc. The Ritz--over the past 36 hours-- is a living example of how to ensure "success". It's all about having a quality offering AND serving the customer passionately. In healthcare, we need to leverage technology, elevate operational efficiency, and be motivated by a culture of caring and compassion. We cannot allow our "offering" to go the way of the airline industry----where it would seem that we, the customer, matter least!

As the "customer-patient," I would urge you to never settle for an erosion of either Quality or Service. The more our "offering" can resonate with you---the more favorable the outcome will befor you, and the more fulfilling the care experience will be for each of us.


Maryann Mazzaferro

Dr. Tomaino
What an experience to happen to you!!!!! you, who are the "prime" example of the best "customer service" and caring medical attention any patient could hope for. I totally agree that so often we get involved with the hectic pace of life, in so many aspects, that we overlook compassion and care for others. You had quite an experience!!! I think
the airline industry and many others need a good lesson on number one 'customer" care from tomaino orthopedics!!!

March 22nd, 2010 @ 4:16 pm

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