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Serving hospitals, healthcare and women's groups

McWonders Never Cease

0ctober 27, 2005, Vol. III Issue 22

Dear Friends,

I attended our first ever Go Red for Women luncheon here in Portland, Oregon, last week. The president of the AHA Portland Metro Board of Directors, Sandra Lewis, MD, shared a revealing retrospective with the audience.

She asked us if we knew where the first women’s heart health event in the country was held. Turned out it was in 1964 in Portland, Oregon. Ten thousand women attended and news reports warned of a huge traffic jam surrounding the venue. The speaker was Dr. Paul Dudley White, the renowned “father of cardiology.”

What drew enough women to tie up city traffic for miles around in 1964? The topic was “Hearts and Husbands” and it covered the role of the wife in her husband’s heart health. Have we come a long way, baby or what?!? Go Red!

We’re continuing our series this week about the application of concierge service in a hospital setting. If you missed the first installment which explained the hospital’s challenge and how and why they turned to Holly Stiel and concierge service, you’ll find it posted here.

And, in the health headlines, McDonalds wraps it up, nutrition labeling that is.

Yours truly,
Barbara

Part II: Hospitals & Hospitality
Inclusive Approach Creates Buy-In

In PART I: The hospital identified their problem and decided the hotel concierge model offered the solution they were seeking. They sought the expert and found Holly Stiel. . .

Holly took a comprehensive approach to formulating the game plan for the entire process of introducing and integrating the concierge concept to answer the hospital’s needs.

Starting with extensive interviews with hospital personnel, she and her business partner, Aimee Lyndon-Adams, a service culture change expert, helped the hospital draft service standards for four interaction situations with patients’ families: The Greeting, The Family Visit, Problem-Solving and the Farewell. “It’s important to have service standards because if people don’t know what’s expected of them, how can we measure whether or not they’re delivering the service that’s expected?” Holly asks.

“We designed a two-day training to include all the departments the concierge would interface with daily. That included emergency response, all admitting staff, switchboard, the cardiologists’ office staff, the education department, imaging and all of the people most likely to deal first with the community,” Holly said.

“I spent the first half of the day touring the hospital and working one-on-one brainstorming with the person who was hired for the concierge position,” Holly noted. “She is a perfect fit for the position. She has the combination of the right personality, organizational skills, an understanding of the importance of follow-up, maturity and all the while she leads with a sense of true hospitality.”

That afternoon about 60 people attended Holly’s “Neon Signs of Service” workshop. Taken from her years on the job as a hotel concierge, Holly’s “Neon Signs” are simple, yet profound wisdom that give people memory triggers to use on the job. Holly emphasizes that these skills are guaranteed to serve both the giver and receiver and that they make huge differences in theoutcomes of service provider-customer interactions.

By the end of the workshop, participants saw their daily activities with new eyes. For example, they realized the importance of looking up and acknowledging someone’s presence, even while they’re busy doing their tasks. “It’s all about reading body language,” Holly said. “You’re busy and they’re pacing. People are not paying attention to other people. We think people will understand or be patient yet they’re concerned about themselves. If we just stop and acknowledge them or give them something to do while they wait for our attention, they will be reassured that they’re going to be taken care of.”

They learned about voice tone and inflection that make a big difference in how the communication is received. “And, importantly, they learned about honoring emotional status, what has brought these people to the hospital. Most people in the hospital don’t want to be there,” Holly noted, “unless they’re having a baby. So we’re dealing with raw emotions the majority of the time.”

The second day was a session with managers of the departments that would be interfacing with the concierge so they would understand the concierge’s role. “Concierges don’t work in a vacuum,” Holly said. “The job requires cooperation with all areas of the hospital that would be impacted by the patient’s family. It was important for them to understand the role for this specific application. Then they helped co-create the job and what needed to happen for the program to work.”

“Involving so many levels and departments broke down the walls. They now understood the need for something that many of them initially had objected to. There was a definite change in body language, attitudes and buy-in,” the client told Holly. “In the afternoon we added other influencers, the ‘yeast’ to the mix, who could go back to the departments and spread the good word.”

“All of this careful crafting and interaction was well worth every minute we spent planning. Our evaluations showed we got good results, but more importantly, this was a program that initially had met with great resistance. In the process, people who didn’t know each other and felt competitive, got to bond.”

NEXT ISSUE: What exactly did the concierge do?

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

In the Headlines: McWonders Never Cease
It’s All In the Wrapping

Those of you have been reading our e-news for some time, know that I’m usually quite skeptical about McDonald’s and particularly their weak attempts at healthy food options, their ambiguous advertising and their weak responses to the criticisms against them in regard to the growing obesity in America.

Enter this week’s headline: “McDonald’s Will Wrap Food With Nutritional Data.” Huh? This sounds pro-active, and well, downright helpful. If you didn’t see or hear about it, the idea is that, starting next year, most McDonald’s food items will include nutrition labeling right on the package. That is, the wrapper on the burger, the carton that holds the french fries, etc. It means you don’t have to read a complicated brochure or chart or go to the website to get the information. They’re saying that the labeling is designed to be easier to read than that on packaged foods and will include calories, grams of fat, protein, carbs and sodium and a chart showing the percentage of the government’s recommended daily intakes.

For someone like myself who rarely enters the Golden Arches, this is obviously irrelevant. But what about beginners who might be contemplating their habits, re-considering their options and with more information, might be inclined to make different choices in the future, or choose to eat at McDonald’s less often (I wonder if the McDonald’s executives pondered that option?). Or, what if, by knowing how much fat or calories they’d already consumed, people would choose to make different choices in what they eat the rest of the day to balance their fast food indulgence?

Critics are lobbying for menu boards that list calories so that consumers might make different choices before they buy. They also point out that the package labeling doesn’t address the total load for combo meals. Point well taken.

True, this labeling foray may just be a way to avert the nightmare of posting the info on menu boards. However, it’s not just calories and fat grams that count. The packaging will also include a nutrition facts panel listing trans fat, saturated fat, fiber, sugar and certain nutrients. Imagine all that on a menu board! Personally, I have trouble reading any of those boards as they now stand. It seems the print would have to be so small on the wall, who could read it anyway?

Having not actually seen the labeling yet, my response may be a bit premature, but my gut reaction is, “Bravo!” Granted, many will wad up their wrappers in an instant, but maybe some folks, sans a newspaper to read will resort to the wrapper, much like those of us who read cereal boxes with our flakes.

I may have to venture into a McDonald’s for an Egg McMuffin next year and read my label along with my newspaper. I’ll let you know.

Fun in my own backyard . . . and driveway

In our last issue, I was lamenting the lack of fun in the headlines.

Little did I realize, I need look no further than my own driveway for some hearty laughs. That’s where my new husband and I found ourselves this past weekend, pricing our collective goods for this weekend’s garage sale. While I was busy tasking and complaining, he was creatively labeling his lovingly used bachelor discards. “Bachelor tumbler set – 5 for $1.” Or there’s the bachelor dinner set: “3 plates, 4 salad bowls” (all black but different shapes).

He even labeled some of my stuff – “Embroidered butterfly original by Barbara Christenson – $3” Three dollars?!? Then there’s the well-worn wicker shelf that’s been in a bag in my garage since I moved from Michigan. He labeled it “Gracious Rustique: A hanging rack for country living.” Three bucks. Oh what the heck, make an offer. I think it’s an original Pier One.

If you lived here, I’m sure you’d want to come and check out the Chinese finger exercise balls (from his stash), never used. One dollar.

I’m betting his creative copywriting will bring an extra dime or two. The smile it brought to my lips was worth at least a hundred bucks.

We are unloading. That is enlightening and healthy. Here’s to laughing through the grunt work. Wish us luck this weekend, it might even rain.

Until next time, take care of yourself, and look for some fun for your well being and those you love.

Yours truly,
Barbara

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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.

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