Gap” is a phrase most often associated with the Tube in London. I hadn’t
thought about it before, but in fact these famous words help frame the overall
service experience. They remind us to be aware during this critical part of our
journey and help us recognize that someone else is being mindful of our
experience as well. This raises the question, why do we focus so much of our time on service recovery when we could be
focusing on ensuring the best experience from the start? Minding the gap
should be about our ability to anticipate our customer’s experience prior to it
taking place at all.
weekend I passed a sign hanging on a lamppost posted by the city of Edinburgh
that immediately caught my eye. It read "We are aware this light is faulty and
are working to repair it as soon as possible.” It then provided contact information
for further questions. Through the use of a simple yellow sign, a service
experience was framed. Here too, it was clear someone was being mindful of the
these examples show us? They reinforce the opportunity we have in creating
positive patient experiences by anticipating the needs of our patients.
My current On the Road visit is with Inspiration NW, a part of NHS North West in the United Kingdom whose focus is on raising the profile and importance of patient experience
(story to be published in the September Patient
Experience Monthly). This incredible team has been working on the
very issue of actively anticipating patient’s needs versus always reacting to them.
One powerful tool they have introduced is Care Cards. Care Cards support patients and their relatives in
exploring how the emotional needs and care preferences of patients can best be
captured, monitored and addressed in real time as part of a quality-led care
experience. The process reduces the sense of anxiousness patients bring
to the care setting and ensures a stronger and more proactive approach to
addressing a patient’s overall experience. This too serves as an example of
anticipating needs, a "mind the gap” moment.
anticipation, there will still be times where service recovery is necessary.
The key is to make this the exception, not the rule. I myself have been guilty of espousing giving
staff members the freedom to act in addressing service recovery issues without
pushing for another freedom; the freedom to act in anticipation of patient
needs. If service recovery is about restoring trust and confidence in the
ability of an organization to "get it right”, service anticipation is about creating moments where people are
wowed by our transparency and understanding of needs and know we will do right
for them from the start. By being in action well before recovery is needed we
can mind the gaps in service that may arise, instead providing winning moments
that ensure a lasting and positive service experience.
you seen or implemented service
anticipation? I look forward to seeing your examples.Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D.Executive Director
The Beryl Institute