Lessons in hospitality, from Leo’s hospital

I walked into Leo’s hospital at Kalpetta in the lush green Wayanad district at 1 pm on a Saturday. Four and a half hours later as we got into the car to drive away, I had witnessed a masterclass in client servicing. The difference between this service experience, and the wrestling match I encounter in some of the big city hospitals, is so very noticeable. 

Every department and section we visited here, had one common thread that stitched our experience together. At the heart of it was a plethora of caring and helpful hospital staff, who were proactive and efficient at what they did. Amidst clients who were in pain, dealing with fear and lots of chaos, seeing them in action, there was a powerful lesson to be learnt. While not everyone can be cured, everyone can be genuinely cared for. 

It began with Billing. This took us under five minutes when we walked in. Physician consulting fee receipt in hand we were directed to the right section by a helpful security guard. A short wait and we were ushered in. After a quick consult, X-rays and blood tests were on the to-do list. At the X-ray department, each time the red light went off and a patient came out, along with the patient, came an attendant who quickly took all the waiting folks’ details and told them when their turn would come. 

From there we went for blood work. Once again, a short wait, plenty of helpful nurses milling around. It appeared a vein was not being cooperative and the nurse drawing the sample was seeming as lost, like the lost vein. Another nurse nearby noticed her predicament and came across. A minute later arms were changed and in the other arm a vein popped up easily and a sample was drawn. A solution that a helpful colleague offered unsolicited. 

After a mouth-watering lunch at ‘’Chatti Choru’ a nearby restaurant, which filled in the time we had to wait for the blood report, we were back at Leo. Armed with X-ray and blood report we went to the doctor. This time there was a serpentine line of fresh patients waiting to go in. A helpful attendant who had seen us earlier came forward and offered to take the reports to the doctor. And thanks to him we managed to get 5 minutes with the doc who explained what needed to be done. 

Last stop, the Pharmacy. Once again there were five counters open to deal with the milling crowd. At one end you gave your prescription. Then there was a place to pay and a waiting area. When your name is called at the other end you go and pick up your medicines. From start to finish our visit was superbly managed. One integrated offering. Housed in different wings and areas but a bunch of committed and helpful people made our day better as the doctors tried to make the patient feel better. They did this by making us feel cared for at every step of the way. The hospital is an hour’s drive away from our home. There are others much closer. We chose to go to Leo’s based on past experience and recommendations from others. Good work coupled with good service is a winning combination in any industry. 

What is the secret sauce that makes this possible? Looking from the outside in, it’s impossible to say for sure. But based on my observations I would hazard a guess. It’s having enough well-qualified people on call and available. 

The number of people staffing each section was plentiful. Having the right ratio of staff to clients is never an easy task to get right in the service industry. Too few people, however good they are leads to burnout and frayed tempers. At Leo’s hospital, there were plenty of helpful attendants, nurses, cashiers, and pharmacists. And that seemed to make all the difference. We felt attended to. Our needs were met and when we looked confused or lost some helpful person would reach out to us and offer a solution. Having a resource surplus model truly seems to be a recipe for excellence in customer-centricity. 

Best intentions are often broken by an overworked and overwhelmed team. Hire good people. Hire enough and more of them. It’s the best way to deliver the highest quality of customer service. The little extra in cost of manpower will be the biggest differentiator in delivering a superior experience to employees and customers. Happy people make people happy. A lovely reminder from Leo’s hospital about the hospitality industry and how to serve clients. On a short break, miles away from my normal world, I connect the dots. The similarities between Leo’s hospital and the world of Public Relations jump out at me. I am glad to be part of a firm that follows the same “resource surplus” formula. Many things go into building a culture of client-centricity – the foundation rests on having enough well-rested people. The rest is what makes the rest possible. While not every client will be happy, we must care for them deeply. 

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Nikhil Dey
Nikhil Dey is Executive Director, Adfactors PR.

A trusted coaching and communications professional, Nikhil Dey is a certified life and leadership coach (International Coach Federation - ICF). Nurturing talent and helping clients achieve their goals is what makes him happy. He loves learning from students of communication, teaching courses and guest lecturing at various educational institutions. When he is not working you will find him on the tennis court or out for long walks with his family and four legged friends.

Previously he has held senior leadership positions at Weber Shandwick and Genesis BCW.

He can be reached on twitter @deydreaming

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