What if Disney Ran an EHR Support Desk?

I am a Disney fan. I love their movies, resorts, service and theme parks. My family just recently returned from a DisneyWorld vacation and during our stay we had an experience that got me thinking about what it would be like if Disney ran the support desk for an EHR vendor (or any HealthIT vendor for that matter).

If that were the case, here is what a client with an EHR problem might experience.

1. A live-operator within 3 rings

On the first night of our stay, we noticed that there was a bit of water on the bathroom floor. It was more than condensation and we suspected that the toilet might be leaking. I picked up the phone and pressed the “At your service” button. Within 3 rings a pleasant lady named Judy answered.

2. A warm greeting by name

“Good evening Hung family, we hope you enjoyed Epcot today. How can I help make your stay more enjoyable?”. Hearing a warm and friendly voice on the phone immediately reduced my irritation at having to call down for service…plus the techie in me was very impressed that their service desk knew which Disney park we had visited that day (presumably through their new MagicBand system).

3. Active listening while the problem is described

I explained the situation to Judy. I told her about the water and how I suspected that our toilet was leaking. It took about a minute to explain everything. Judy did not interrupt me and I could hear her typing notes into her system (I asked).

4. Logical questions based on the described problem

After I finished telling my story, Judy proceeded to ask me several questions. How much was was on the floor? Had it gotten onto the carpet? Could I see anything dripping? Was anything else wet? Etc. What I noticed about her questions was that they were all based on the assumption something was wrong vs that we had done something wrong. For example, she never asked “Did someone just take a shower?” or “Did any of your kids come from the pool to use the washroom”. Using this tact immediately made me fee like Judy was working with me to solve the problem vs just trying to get me off the phone.

5. Offering a realistic solution

After she had asked her questions Judy apologized for the water in our bathroom and then she told me she had asked one of her housekeeping colleagues to come to our room to wipe up the water while we had been talking. Judy then shared with me her assessment of the situation: “Well Mr Hung it certainly may be a leak, but it may also be any number of other things. We really won’t be able to make a determination until we have one of our plumbers come and take a look. Is that something we can do tonight while you are in the room or would you prefer us to look in the morning?” Kudos to Disney – Judy had effectively put the onus on me to determine how critical (or not) the problem was and by asking this question Judy made me feel like a member of the problem solving team.

6. Expressing and demonstrating empathy

What Judy did next was unexpected. “Mr. Hung, I’m going to hang on the phone until Mary arrives. I know that if I was on vacation with my family and there is a problem with the room, I’d want it resolved as quickly as possible. I know how skeptical people are when you hear “someone will be right up”. Sometimes that can mean  5 minutes or 50 minutes. I want to assure you it’s 5 so I’m going to stay on the phone until Mary gets to your room.” Wow. Now I truly felt that Judy was on my side and really looking out for my family.

7. Working together to diagnose the root cause

Mary (name changed) from housekeeping arrived within 5 minutes and she had about 10 towels in her hands. “Mr. Hung, my colleague Judy told me about the water in your bathroom and I’m here to help clean it up. While I’m here I’m going to try and see if I can find the source of the water.” When Judy heard Mary’s greeting she asked if I would like her to stay on the line. I declined since Mary looked more than capable of handling the water.

Mary went to the bathroom and assessed the situation with me. She looked at the water on the floor and started eliminating potential sources out loud so that I could follow along. During this process, I helped Mary by feeling the paper towel she used to test the shower, sink and other fixtures for leaks. Each time my “job” was to verify whether or not Mary correct in saying the towel was dry.

8. Admitting you don’t have an immediate answer

At the end of the process, we arrived back at the toilet as being the most likely source of the water. However, there was nothing visibly wrong with it. There was no obvious sign of water. Mary and I were stumped. She admitted as much and said that she needed to call in an expert because she didn’t have enough knowledge to help me. She radioed for the night plumber and like Judy, offered to stay until he had arrived.

9. Committing to a solution

When the plumber arrived, he spent a few minutes speaking with Mary and then went straight to the toilet. He didn’t recheck anything she had done nor did he ask me any of the same questions that Judy or Mary had. The plumber spent a lot of time inspecting the toilet. In the end he determined that the caulking on the toilet likely needed to be redone and/or the tank had small crack in the back of it that no one could see. Unfortunately if he started working on either of those, it would mean we would not have a working toilet for the rest of the night. Given the little amount of water that was on the floor, I decided to hold off until the morning. The plumber committed to having the toilet fixed tomorrow and then he asked Mary to give us more bath towels to wipe up any excess water during the night.

10. Making it right

When we returned from Magic Kingdom the next day we were sad to see that the toilet had not been fixed. I immediately called downstairs and once again it was Judy who answered. “Mr. Hung, oh my, I can see that we didn’t manage to get your toilet fixed yet. Let me go find out what’s going on and call you right back.” I didn’t even say my name and yet Judy knew what I was going to ask!

About 30 minutes later Patrick, one of the resort managers called our room. Right away he apologized on behalf of Disney for the problems in our room and how they had committed to fixing things today and hadn’t yet done so. He said he had spoken with Judy, Mary and the plumber and they had all agreed that the only way to make it right was to move us to an upgraded room. Patrick then told me he had already asked a bellman to come upstairs to help us pack. Given that it was almost 10pm at night Patrick also let us know that he had added a credit to our account for all the inconvenience this had caused.

The rest of our vacation went without incident and we thoroughly enjoyed our time at Disney, but this support experience stuck with me and as I thought about it I became more and more impressed with all the little things the Disney team had done. What impressed me was:

  • How I never had to repeat myself. Not once was I asked the same the question.
  • How much trust each member of the Disney team had in their colleagues. Mary accepted Judy’s assessment of the situation and the plumber accepted Mary’s. There was no argument or second guessing.
  • How committed each person was to solving the problem. During the time each person spent with us, it felt like we were the only people in the resort with an issue. No one was rushing off to the next problem. They took their time and explained everything to us.

All of us in HealthIT know that support is an important client-facing part of businesses. Yet we often don’t spend enough time or effort to ensure these people get the resources and training they need to be successful. They are often after-thoughts. It shouldn’t be that way. We can and should do better. As Disney demonstrated to me, a pleasant support experience not increases loyalty it also creates fans.

About the author

Colin Hung

Colin Hung

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.