ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

Designing Positive Experiences in a Doctor’s Office – One Bagel at a Time

Posted by Plish on January 12, 2012

It was a typical physical. The basic tests, some questions, some ‘turn your head and cough’-ing, a blood draw and the removal of a dime-sized, spherical cyst from my right shoulder.

As usual, the prep for the appointment included a fast from midnight.  This isn’t usually a big deal, except that I had the latest possible appointment that morning.

Everything went well. Even the cyst removal.  It wasn’t particularly painful, but the area was effectively numbed up prior to the mini-surgery.  That was, no doubt,  a good thing, as the cyst went deeper into the skin than one would think, based upon its size.  The doctor’s skillful excision left a clean, but surprisingly large, ‘glass marble sized’ crater on my shoulder.

After I was bandaged, I turned my head and started to get up. I was instantly greeted by a flurry of starry, firefly like speckles that twinkled for a few moments then faded.

“Whoa…stars,” I said.  It had caught me by surprise.

The doctor steadied me and I stepped down off the table.  “I’ll have my nurse give you something to help that,” he said,

As I was leaving the office, she handed me my prescription.  A coupon for a free bagel  at the bakery next door.

I smiled, left, and visited the doctor’s neighbor.

“This is the coolest idea, EVER!”  I thought to myself as I munched on a toasted bagel, slathered with honey-walnut cheese.

My shoulder wound was beginning to get sore, but it didn’t matter.  The crunchy, creamy-ness filled the 12 hour fasting void in my stomach, perfectly.

In the moment, I had thought the free bagel coupon was a sacred talisman, of which I was the sole possessor. The uninitiated would never taste the nectar of honey and walnut as I was able…

Only…

I wasn’t the only one to get a coupon. In fact, all my doctor’s patients who had to fast the day before their appointments, received a ‘get a free bagel’ coupon.

This was brilliance – Pure and simple.

It also wasn’t the doctor’s brainchild.  It was the bakery owner’s! (Though the good doctor did know a good idea when he saw it, and acted upon it.)  He proposed providing coupons for the doc’s prepping, fasting patients.  In the end, he not only benefitted from letting people try his bagels, he received remuneration for the drinks that I’m sure others, like myself, purchased as a sidecar to the bagel. Yet, he wasn’t the one in the limelight as far as I was concerned.  I was indebted to the doctor who thought enough of me to feed me when I was hungry (and smarting!).

I think about this little, customer service based, sleight of hand often.  It was a brilliant tactic that paid off in spades.  I respected my doc even more after that day, and the bagel baking prowess of his neighbor as well.  There are many lessons to glean from this experience, but the one that I personally come back to is this: The positive vibes I felt from that physical didn’t come from anything the doctor did, from a medical point of view, during my visit.  It had everything to do with the simple, person-centered action that occurred  after the physical was finished.

After – not during.

It’s important to finish experiences on a high note. This one was  the coda  of the sweet, Honey Walnut Symphony…

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3 Responses to “Designing Positive Experiences in a Doctor’s Office – One Bagel at a Time”

  1. I found your blog through the Linkedin Right at Home group, and I can feel the synergy between your arts and engineering backgrounds.

    I LOVE this post about your doctor’s bagel prescription – especially since we blog about the Sandwich Generation and how to nourish family without starving yourself.

  2. Plish said

    Thanks Phyllis for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I really like your blog. There’s more there I want to dig into and think about!

  3. timetales said

    Haveing just gone through a dental ordeal that was carried through by all the staff includeing the dentist made this post very real for me.It seems good customer service helps the healing profoundly.

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