158 Who’s Your Gladys?
Front-line employees are trained and trusted to use service recovery tools,
which include gift certificates to restaurants, stores, gas stations, and
movie theaters, as well as a variety of other offerings. These items are
available for smoothing out situations where patients have to wait or a
mistake is made.
‘‘There is a process in learning how to deal with complaints,’’ Jason
Card shared. ‘‘We tend to chuckle because Brian Lee tends to come up
with things that rhyme: Whoever hears a complaint becomes the cus-
tomer’s saint.’ Basically, what it means is, not only listen to the person
who complains, but actually listen to what she says. Validate what she is
saying by writing it down. If you can’t help her, find somebody who can.
Don’t let the issue drop until you have either handed it to somebody who
has agreed to carry on with it or brought some satisfaction to the family.’’
Sky Lakes staff members are taught to listen to the patient’s concern
and acknowledge the issue, whether they personally think it’s an issue or
not. If a customer brings it up, it’s an issue. ‘‘Listen,’’ Tom Hottman
advises. ‘‘You will learn the answers. You will learn the questions, if you
just listen.’’
Patients are always thanked and validated for bringing up a com-
plaint. ‘‘We’ve been trying to instill in our people that you can treat a
complaint in one of two ways,’’ Jason Card explained. ‘‘You can be ticked
off about it, or you can look at it as a gift, because that person has identi-
fied something in your system that doesn’t work quite right. It gives you
the opportunity to fix it, because it’s not affecting just one person, it’s
affecting the ten people it happened to before and the hundred people it
would happen to after. Bringing it to our attention really is a gift to us to
help us improve. If we haven’t satisfied someone, then as a last resort we
have service recovery toolboxes in every department on every floor.’’
‘‘When you mess up, you ’fess up and dress up,’’ Brian Lee added.
‘‘Dressing up works 95 percent of the time. It means saying, ‘I apologize.’
The other 5 percent of the time, there also needs to be some atonement.
You need to do something special.’’
Tom Hottman points the way to wisdom by posing a question. ‘‘What
did your mom teach you?’’ he asked. ‘‘You say you’re sorry and you mean
it. Lately, saying you’re sorry has become just words. Instead of just saying

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