I needed an oil change, so I took my car to Jiffy Lube. I had just pulled into the entrance to one of the service bays when a smiling man whose nametag read “Tony” approached me. “Welcome back, Mr. Wellikson. What can we help you with today?” Well, that was nice and so unexpected, as I had not remembered ever going to that Jiffy Lube. As it turns out, they have a video camera that shows incoming cars in their control room. They can read my license plate and call up my car on their computer system, access my record, and create a personal greeting. They also used my car’s past history as a starting point for this encounter. We were off to a good start.
Once I indicated I just wanted a routine oil change, Tony indicated he would be back in five to 10 minutes. He told me I should wait in the waiting room where they had wireless Internet, TV, magazines, and comfortable chairs.
In less than 10 minutes, Tony was back, clipboard in hand, with an assessment of my car’s status, including previous work and manufacturer’s recommendations, based on my car’s age and mileage. Once we negotiated not replacing all of the fluids and filters, Tony smiled and said the work should be completed in 10 minutes.
Soon, Tony came back to lead me out to my car, which had been wheeled out to the front of the garage bay with an open driver’s door waiting for me. After helping me into my seat, Tony came around and sat in the passenger seat and, once again with his ready clipboard, walked me through the 29 steps of inspections and fluid changes that had been made on my visit, reviewed the frequency of future needs for my vehicle, put a sticker on my inside windshield as a reminder, included $5 off for my next service, then patiently asked me if I had any questions.
Total time at Jiffy Lube: less than 30 minutes. Total cost: $29.99. Total customer experience: exceptional. Considering it was the third Jiffy Lube location I had used in the past three years, I can tell you the experience and system is the same throughout the company, whether the uniform name is Tony or Jose or Gladys.
Can such experiences offer hospitalists lessons about how we manage the customer experience in hospital care?
In August 2012, Atul Gawande, MD, wrote a thought-provoking article in The New Yorker in which he coupled his detailed observation of how the restaurant chain The Cheesecake Factory manages to deliver 8 million meals annually nationwide with high quality at a reasonable cost and strong corporate profits with the emerging trend of healthcare delivery innovations being sought by large hospital chains and such innovations as ICU telemedicine.1
He noted that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than 25% of physicians are currently self-employed, and the growing trend is hospitals being acquired or merged into larger and larger hospital chains. He observed that recent and future financial changes are moving toward payment for results and efficiencies and further away from just rewarding transactions and supplying services, whether of measureable value or with proven results. Cheesecake Factory has built its success on large-scale production-line processes that produce consistent results across hundreds of locations and millions of meals. It may now be time for healthcare, especially hospital care, to come into the 21st century, too.