Sick Babies Shouldn't Have to Wait
Written By: Larry Stevens
In May we held our annual company meeting in Park City, Utah. This is always a wonderful event for me because I get to interact with many of the people in our company who are responsible for making things happen. It was as usual, a wonderful event with well-planned and informative presentations, lively and meaningful discussions, fun social events, and the renewal of spirit and commitment that seems to always follow an event like this.
It seems that every year when we have this meeting, I learn something that excites me about what is going on in our company. It makes me feel so great that our customers are being served by a team of dedicated and caring professionals who have found true meaning in what they do. However, the most meaningful part of the meeting was something that I learned almost by accident.
One of the drivers in our rental division who delivers equipment to our customers in Southern California mentioned that among their team they had developed the motto that “Sick Babies Shouldn’t Have to Wait.” That caught my attention and I asked for some background. Here is the background:
“We know that most hospitals only have a limited stock of equipment that is typically used in the NICU area. Whenever we get that type of equipment back from a hospital – we prioritize cleaning it and making it ready for the next patient need. We know that when one of our customers calls for this type of equipment it is either because they have had a multiple birth, or a baby has been born that needs life support help in order to survive. We want to make sure that our equipment is instantly ready to deliver and that there is no down time while we get it ready. When we get a call for equipment being used in the NICU we prioritize the delivery ahead of anything else that may be going out. Each of our drivers carry spare parts in their van so that if any of our NICU equipment ever needs a repair, we can take care of it on site, rather than having to take it out of service and bring it back to the distribution center. We believe that “Sick Babies Shouldn’t Have To Wait” and our entire team works together to make that motto a reality.”
Dathan Calvert, our Southern California Operations Manager further elaborated to me, “We will all drop what we are doing to get that equipment out ASAP. If we are on lunch break when the call comes in, everybody will get up and do their part. We take pride in our work. When we’re providing equipment to help nurses, doctors, and therapists save babies, we all see the bigger picture of what we do.”
Of all the great success stories that have been shared with me, or that I have been a part of over the past 26 years at Med One, nothing has had a greater impact, pleased me more, or made me more emotional than when I heard that. That one example sums up for me what I believe is the “culture” of Med One. It isn’t because we are technically superior to any of our competitors. We are certainly not as large or as powerful as any of the “players” in our market place. But time after time, customers choose to leave our competitors in favor of doing business with Med One.
I think that up and down throughout this company, we have people who genuinely take great pride in the fact that they are encouraged and empowered to deliver exceptional service to our customers. Each of our team members has the right to challenge us any time we start to allow policies and procedures to get in the way of common sense and responsiveness. Our employees understand that customers don’t expect us to be perfect. They do however, expect us to fix things when they go wrong. Each one of our associates has been mandated to actually fix problems rather than passing them off to the next person.
Several months ago, we received an urgent call from a major hospital in Texas that had a serious need to rent a large number of ventilators due to an unexpected manufacturer recall of the ventilators that they owned. We did not even come close to having that number of available ventilators in our Texas locations. Rather than backing away from a challenge, our people in each of our offices from California to North Carolina and everywhere in between gave up their weekend, put all the available ventilators we had into their delivery trucks and drove them to Texas in order to be able to meet the customer’s expectation during the following week.
In these and many other situations, I see our people performing above and beyond the level of normal expectations so that they can provide an uncommon level of service and responsiveness to our customers. In most of these cases, our efforts have a direct impact on the health and wellbeing of an actual patient. I also believe that our customers generally receive this kind of special and concentrated service without even knowing (or acknowledging) the things that our people have done to take care of them.
These things largely go unnoticed by our customers because Med One has performed at this level for so long that it seems to be expected of us as the norm. We do not charge extra because our people care what they do, or because our organization is willing to “work miracles” behind the scenes to deal with almost impossible situations. We normally don’t even mention it because it tends to sound like boasting. This type of caring, responsiveness, and flexibility has always been part of the Med One culture. The thing that amazes me is that in recent years as our company has grown and added many new staff members in several different locations, we have been fortunate to find people who share that passion for service, responsiveness, and excellence.
This spirit and culture is evident in many, many ways by our Med One team members in all areas. We are aware of several instances in our international markets when our folks have been working with customers in different sales scenarios and have discovered the need for serious changes in clinical procedures. Our people have worked behind the scenes with clinicians to help bring about practices that are safer and more compliant with standard medical protocol.
Our leasing personnel are well known for their ability to respond quickly and efficiently to provide unique solutions for difficult situations. From the very beginnings of our company we have understood that if you don’t make your product easier to buy than your competition, you will find your customers buying from them, not you. We have always been focused on making it very, very easy to do a lease with Med One. Almost daily, we are able to provide solutions that will facilitate our customers to quickly acquire the use of important equipment needed to provide for their patient’s care.
From the very beginning, our associates have each dedicated themselves to make Med One a unique company. None of them actually set out with the intent to try to create a unique company. I think that it is a tribute to the quality and character of our people, that as they go about doing their jobs, striving for excellence, and caring about the customers they serve, their combined impact is to have, in deed, made Med One a truly unique organization. The collective excellence and character of our people combines to create a truly remarkable “whole.”
I am a firm believer that a company is only as extraordinary as its employees. Everyone has had a business encounter with a company that has conducted extensive “customer service training” for their employees. It seems that their approach is always the same and always seems contrived or forced. Everyone has also probably had the pleasing experience of dealing with someone to whom friendliness and caring just seems to come natural. The difference is instantly evident. Betsy Sanders said, “Service, in short, is not what you do, but who you are. It is a way of living that you need to bring to everything you do, if you are to bring it to your customer interactions.”
The impressive thing to me about the “Sick Babies Shouldn’t Have To Wait” motto, adopted by our people, is just that, it was spawned and adopted by our people. It was not developed by our marketing or public relations department. It was not introduced as a slick advertising campaign. It was created by a group of people who really care about what they do and about the impact that their individual actions have on real people. I personally feel a deep sense of gratitude for what each of our associates do. I know that our customers appreciate it, even though few of them ever know the real cost and effort that has been expended in their behalf. In the words of Sam Walton, “Our goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best, but that is legendary.”