Archive for April, 2010

April 13, 2010

Underpromise? OK. Underwhelm? Not So Good.

One of my children recently developed appendicitis. The surgery went smoothly and the recovery was uneventful, but I will never return to that hospital again.

As we waited in our cubicle in the emergency room, I killed time by reading anything I could see from my seat. The emergency evacuation procedures. The hand washing instructions. The packaging for the latex gloves. And the framed customer service pledge posted underneath the TV. It read:

We strive to give you very good service.

Really? Just very good? I was shocked. In ANY customer service setting, but none more so than a hospital, I should think the goal would be excellent. To be told that the people caring for my acutely ill child are only shooting for “very good” was very disconcerting.

We’ve all heard the adage,  “Underpromise. Overdeliver.” It’s good business sense. You don’t want to set unrealistic expectations for your customers if you know you are only going to disappoint them; however, you also need to be careful that you don’t undermine your own reputation by setting your standards too low. If you don’t sound confident in your product and services and staff, how is that going to influence potential customers?

I’m guessing there was some legal team involved in the wording of that sign in the ER room, but I would hope that the HR and Marketing departments would have pushed back a little bit. From a marketing stand point, if you tell your customers that you aren’t even going to try for excellence, why wouldn’t they go looking for someone who will? And from an HR standpoint, if you have your employees working around that kind of motto, how much incentive do they have to do their best?

“Strive” and “very good” don’t go together. I wonder how much damage those poorly chosen words have done to that hospital’s brand–their reputation.