Complaints Vs Compliments

complaintsFollowing on from the write up on mishaps and mistakes, I would now reflect on complaints and compliments in the hospital. Every time a customer is unhappy about something in the hospital, they make a complaint. Be it waiting a while in queue for the doctor up to issues of food served while admitted to the hospital. How easy is it to lodge a complaint though? Most of the time even at ADK Hospital, customers will complain because they were not able to lodge a complaint easily. So what can be done to hear people out and make it easy for people to lodge a complaint? Simple, make it easy for anyone to lodge a complaint. Establish a complaint management system and let people know about it. If we do this, we get complimented for handling a complaint. Isn’t that nice? But again we need to change a culture of many years to do that.

In the short period that I have been managing ADK Hospital, customers have told me that the front office is very reluctant to let them meet the management. Why? Is it fear that they may be reprimanded? Or is it because they want to hide a possible mistake from the management? Well, I asked around my staff about this. Talked directly with them and the answer is none of what I have just mentioned. The answer usually is “no reason” or “it’s the way it has been always.” This doesn’t surprise me at all. What I am finding hard is to change such cultures. It is not necessarily their fault too. Even at home if we do try to hide anything that might get us into trouble, don’t we? I guess that’s where we all come from.

Well my challenge now is to design a proper complaint handling mechanism and implement it. What do I get in return? Compliments! I hear a lot of complaints and what I do is listen. Try to explain but not to show excuses. If genuine, accept and see what we can improve on. Showing the way from the top is also helping a bit but we will have a long way to go to perfect it. One of the biggest satisfactions that I got so far in my short career managing a hospital started from a complaint. A customer called me and complained of an issue about his wife’s condition. She was not having any progress neither was the doctor able to determine what is happening. I offered to help the customer by getting a second opinion. Facilitated an appointment to another doctor and guess what? Two days later, the customer calls me back to thank me. It was even better; he said that he canceled the air ticket to Colombo to show his wife to the doctor because of the service that he got, a compliment from a complaint. This could have been done by anyone in the hospital. It’s just a matter of listening and courtesy. There is no restriction for anyone in the hospital in the way I acted in this case.

Very few people measure compliments. I feel that measuring the compliments is also a good way to assess our performance. Every time when I walk around the hospital, there is one spot that I stop for while. Just to see whether my staff got a new compliment. At the nurses’ station, there are heaps of written compliments from patients. Laminated with colours and pictures too. Many doctors’ also have such tokens of compliments they receive from patients kept in their consultation rooms. I feel happy to see these. That is a positive sign that the staff is putting an effort to uphold our motto – caring about you when you need it most. I make a point to congratulate and appreciate their work too. When I ask the staff about these compliments they show emotions and comfort. Those compliments help drive them to perform. It gives them satisfaction and touches their hearts. It is mutual isn’t it? We touched the patients’ hearts when they needed it and in return they touch ours.

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3 Comments on "Complaints Vs Compliments"

  1. Dr.Jay
    01/06/2009 at 00:34 Permalink

    Good one Afaal, i am beginning to feel that this blog can be used as an exchange of ideas and thoughts among our own colleagues and staff. you should publicize it.

  2. v.vinod sharma
    11/08/2009 at 11:34 Permalink

    Dear Afaal,
    A good one and acceptable for all practical reasons. i especially appreciate your initiative of getting a second opinion on one of your patients.

    I think this reflects your vision of – “caring about patients when they need the most”.
    Well i do agree on having a sound complaints forum in place, but then sometimes it’s out of our knowledge & control – “to err is human” and this stands good until its not an intentional act. So the best thing would be to keep trying and to create awareness amongst the patients & internal staffs. It definitely
    Has to be a “TEAM WORK” atlast.

  3. tax forms
    24/09/2014 at 10:58 Permalink

    It’s wonderful that you are getting ideas from this post as well as from our discussion made here.

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