You can’t fake care

Living through a global health crisis gets you thinking, especially when it comes to medical care. Why are we surprised by good healthcare service? Surely good service in the healthcare sector is a natural by-product of the job, I mean healthcare workers get paid to ‘care’ and to be of service, right? Well, what I’ve come to realise is that it’s a little more complicated than that. Healthcare is an extremely demanding sector, and even more so now that we are in the middle of a pandemic. The high-stress levels, fear of contracting covid-19, the long hours, and in some instances, questionable pay, lead to frequent burnout and job dissatisfaction. This makes it all the more impressive when you are faced with workers in health facilities who are serving with smiles on their faces (particularly at this difficult time). These are the workers who are genuinely devoted to what they do, and make one see that at the end of the day, you really can’t fake care. 

Job vs Responsibility 

Authentic care will strike a chord with a person. It will resonate emotionally, and when an experience makes an impact on an emotional level, people will talk about it. Take, for example, the abundance of complimentary posts recently made by South Africans on social media, praising the service they have received at covid-19 vaccination sites across the country. In one post I read, a gentleman said he’d never experienced such care and seamless service at a health facility before. He said he felt like the health workers were with him every step of the way.  

And if I can shamelessly use this opportunity to name drop one of our clients (enter perks of having your own blog here ?), the Cape Town Convention Centre (CTICC) has done a formidable job in offering Capetonians a reliable vaccination facility, receiving first-rate reviews from the public. This level of care and service excellence, I think, comes down to workers feeling like they are a part of something bigger than their daily duties, that they are a part of something they can believe in. This is the kind of care that is infectious and shines through in every part of the worker’s job. 

If I think back to January this year when I was hospitalised for COVID-induced breathing complications, I’m still in awe of the Kingsbury Hospital staff, and how they treated their patients. This was not just a job for them, it was a responsibility, and one they took on with passion, valour, and devotion. In addition to daily patient monitoring, administering of medication, changing drips, etc., I watched the nursing staff take on an endless list of tasks with pure compassion. They washed patients, clipped toenails, did their hair, helped them face-time their loved ones, and even fed those who couldn’t feed themselves. All of this was done with such genuine care and friendliness.

Willingness vs Capacity

I could go on sharing inspiring stories but let me get to the crux of the real message I want to leave you with today. The difference between service that is delivered with authentic care and service that lacks thought can be boiled down to ‘willingness’ vs ‘capacity.’ Some staff have the willingness to provide a good customer experience, but they are not empowered. They may have all the right intrinsic ingredients for the job, only to be let down by the companies’ systems or processes. On the other side of the coin, there are staff that has the capacity, but not the willingness. These are usually people who are not the correct fit for a role or for various reasons have ‘checked out.’ To deliver real care and a world-class customer experience, companies and their staff need to have both willingness and capacity. It’s the marriage of seamless processes and the right employees that will leave a lasting impression on a customer. 

In healthcare, this is sometimes easier said than done, as there is often so much working against medical workers. This is when care should go both ways. I’m sure you’ve all experienced a complete turnaround in service when you’ve demonstrated empathy and understanding of an employee’s circumstance. We’re all human after all. 

To end off, let’s give a virtual round of applause to the brave medical staff who are working tirelessly with passion and care to help save lives.