I think one of the greatest tools in our customer service toolbelt is just taking the time to be present and listen to our customers. Whether that customer is our coworker, our resident, patient, family member, whoever. 

The problem is, we are too often multitasking to really be in the here-and-now to pay attention. Maybe we are thinking of what we have to do next, or how much we have to get done, but that’s really not fair to the person we are supposed to be communicating with.

I remember the time (feels like centuries ago since COVID-19) but I was out to breakfast with my husband and friends and the waiter came by to first ask us if we’d like coffee or juice.  When my turn came around, I said I’d like coffee, black. The waiter, never looking up from his pad asked, “How would you like that?”

I assumed he did not hear me the first time (as I am shy and timid — not!) so I replied, “black.” “Would you like cream or sugar?” he asked, again not looking up. “No, just black,” I answered and before he asked again, I added “I like my coffee like I like my men … uncomplicated.” While we all thought that was funny, Mr. “Elsewhere” didn’t get it and, yes, he brought my coffee with cream and sweeteners.

There is a book titled “Tuesdays with Morrie” about Morrie Schwartz, a former Brandeis University sociology professor who contracted ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. He mentioned something about listening when being interviewed by the book’s author, journalist Mitch Albom.

He said, “I believe in being fully present. That means you should be with the person you’re with. When I’m talking to you now, Mitch, I try to keep focused only on what is going on between us. I am not thinking about something we said last week. I am not thinking about what’s coming up this Friday. I am not thinking about doing another Koppel show, or about what medications I’m taking. I am talking to you. I am thinking about you.”

I  believe that is so very profound. 

Being present allows us to examine what we are hearing, seeing and observing in the moment. It makes us better at what we do. It allows us to discover from the customer’s point of view.

Can you imagine if we were always “present” when communicating with others? Not only a better world and better customer satisfaction survey scores, but you may even get your beverage order served correctly. Just saying!

Just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, Senior Director of Clinical Innovation and Education for Mission Health Communities, LLC and an APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real-life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.