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ArtBra Exhibitionists

November 10, 2005, Vol. III Issue 23

Dear Friends,

We’re wrapping up our 3-part concierge-customer service series in this issue. Applying the hotel concierge model in a hospital setting is just one way to bring the idea of hospitality to hospitals. Judging from the interest generated, I plan to revisit this idea in future issues.

As always, we’re on the lookout for innovative ideas to share with you. ArtBras meets my criteria for fun, creativity and sheer bravado.

In the coming months, we’ll have lots of new speaker ideas and topics to share with you. Caregiving (specifically, caring for the caregiver) is a topic I’m seeing in the headlines frequently. New books, CD’s, and programs are all on the horizon for 2006. That’s what will keep me going through these short days and long nights. The rainy season has arrived in Oregon. But it is very green!

Yours truly,

Part III: Hospitals & Hospitality
Concierge on the Job

[In the first two parts of this series we identified some customer service problems a hospital was experiencing, and how the solution, the concept of a hotel concierge,
was created and implemented by Holly Stiel, concierge and customer service expert.]

We’ve talked about the concierge position and how all hospital departments that would interface with the concierge helped co-create the job. So, you might be wondering what exactly does this concierge do? As in any job, there are many responsibilities; here are just a few highlights.

With the new hospital wing, logistics had been a big problem. Patients had been getting lost, mis-directed and generally frustrated. Now when they enter the hospital, the concierge can check and confirm their destination before guiding them to their appointment.

“This role has completely tightened our services,” the client said. “Nobody leaves the desk until the concierge knows she’s sending them to the right place.”

Interaction with patients’ families is a primary responsibility. As soon as the concierge meets the patient’s family, the process begins: she logs the contact in on a special customized log sheet. There is a place in the log sheet for names and ways to recognize each person’s family. The new lobby has now become the waiting area for patients’ families. A coffee cart arrives every morning, along with two daily newspapers. Housekeeping brings fresh pillows daily. Magazines, games, and playing cards are provided.

One of the ideas that came directly from the concierge model is a direction card. When a family member needs to go to another part of the hospital, the cafeteria, for example, instead of giving verbal directions alone, the concierge gives the person a direction card. She goes over it with the person, simultaneously highlighting the directions on the card.

“This way people don’t have to worry about remembering verbal directions,” Holly said. “They feel more secure in a stressful situation, and they are less likely to get lost. In many cases the return directions to the lobby are on the flip side of the card.

“Hotel concierges are repeatedly asked for directions to the same places over and over again. When I worked in the lobby of the Hyatt in San Francisco, I directed people to the cable cars thousands of times. Direction cards make it easier on the concierge as well as the client.”

All of these services are helpful, but the best aspect of the hospital concierge is her role as patient-family liaison. Together the concierge and family members decide how often to check with or update the family. She notes it on her log sheet and as the day progresses she checks with the family accordingly.

“This is critical,” Holly said. “By determining together how often to update family members, the expectations are set, which the concierge can now meet. Part of the job is not just to do the job, but to set the expectations so that not only is the customer happy because they know what’s going on, but people are less likely to become upset by unmet expectations.”

The concierge issues pagers so family members can move about the hospital and the neighborhood. Then she can let them know, for example, when and where to meet the surgeon.

“Just keeping people informed, even if the information is vague in the face of HIPPA laws, can be a big comfort,” Holly said. “Knowing someone is there for them in case
they need them may be all the care a person needs. All of this creates an emotional connection.”

“This was beyond concierge training, it was service excellence training,” the client reported. “The spirit of this training has spread through the hospital and given us an opportunity in the future to elevate the expectations of customer service by the employees.”

The feedback from surveys of waiting families has been very supportive. “Many name the concierge as a saint,” the client said. “She gets personal praise. People trust her and they’re confiding in her so she’s become a clearinghouse for positive and negative feedback, whether it’s a doctor’s mannerisms or a parking issue. This is bigger than the old fashioned way of trying to figure out what the consumer needs.

“We are absolutely thrilled with our concierge service. It’s completely bonded multiple parts of the hospital, linking key departments of surgery, cardiovascular services, imaging, volunteers, admitting, and heart surgeons.”

For information about Holly Stiel and the ideas she has for applying the idea of hospitality to hospitals, contact me, or call me at 503-699-5031.

Holly Stiel is an expert on the art of customer service, author of three books, speaker and consultant.

Artfully Speaking: ArtBras Raise Money

Look what a few talented women and a 36C cup can do!

What women won’t do for a good cause! My friend Barbara Weiland, who is editor of a national sewing magazine and writes her own e-news, brought this fabulous project to my attention.

It’s the ArtBra calendar and exhibitions, projects of Way to Women’s Wellness, (WTWW). You have to see it (them) to believe it (them) and I’ll give you the website where you can do that at the end of this story.

Until you see it, it might sound kinda funny. Bras as art? Some of us would like to strangle those wired and un-wired contraptions. What could possibly be appealing to women about an exhibition of bras or a bra calendar? When you see them, you’ll get it. These embellished bras created by fabric and embroidery artists from across the country are wondrous works of creativity and inspiration, from the themes to the use of techniques: embroidery, beading, soft sculpture, quilting, knitting, crochet. And that all important ingredient, whimsy!

In addition to my appreciation of the gorgeous color combinations, the pictures on the website evoked in me a sense of joy, drama and respect. From cute to coy, I can only imagine the fun and satisfaction the women who create these must enjoy.

The ArtBra Calendar and exhibitions are projects of the Women’s Wellness Foundation, a not-for-profit, all-volunteer organization that makes donations to women’s health initiatives. This year they partnered with Vanity Fair Intimates to produce their calendar. The actual bras are also available for exhibition. Over 60,000 people viewed the WTWW ArtBra Exhibition in 2005, creating awareness and donations for breast cancer initiatives.

You can find 2006 exhibition sites, as well as view both the 2005 and 2006 calendars online at and, while you’re there, contribute to the cause by buying a calendar or calendars (after all, it is gift-giving season!) They also offer note cards and pins. This could be a liberating experience!

Slimmed Down Traditional Favorites

Last year my new husband (then fiancé) and I had two invitations to Thanksgiving dinner, so this year we decided it’s probably our turn to host. That gives us an incentive to get even a little more settled in our new home. He’s up for painting the family room while I look the other way.

When we created our first Thanksgiving dinner together four years ago, we had oven challenges, and had to get creative or get reservations! We ended up roasting our brined bird outside on the gas grill. Dinner moved from mid to late afternoon and all was well. Delicious, actually. While I fretted a bit, my even-tempered Jim took it all in stride. We are a good balance . . .

Once again, I offer you the recipe for a great low fat alternative to pumpkin pie for the holidays. I absolutely love Zonya’s Surprise Pumpkin Pie (surprise because it makes its own crust).

This year, you might also like to add her simple, low calorie and delicious Cranberry Salad to your menu. If you have the new edition of “Lickety Split Meals,” it’s on page 265. If you don’t have the book and would like the recipe, we’re happy to give it to you. Just reply to this email and write Cranberry in the subject (and/or Pumpkin Pie if you’d like that recipe, also).

In gratitude, I plan to send our next issue on Wed. the 23rd, since Thanksgiving falls on our regular Thursday publication date.

Until then, be good to yourself for your good health and those you love.

Yours truly,


The Speak Well Being Group specializes in providing exceptional speakers for health, wellness and women’s events. Because we’ve worked with so many hospitals and healthcare groups around the country, we speak your language. Our hand-picked speakers are attuned to your needs and adept at addressing the issues while delivering information in an entertaining way, or simply providing a good time with a light message when that’s the ticket. When you work with us, you’ll come back for more “How are we going to top that?” speakers.

You’ll find many of our speakers on our website.
Or please call anytime and let us assist you: 503-699-5031
The Speak Well Being Group, 4261 Collins Way, Lake Oswego, Oregon 97035

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