Roger Cowdrey - International Business Consultant. Writer & Motivational Speaker
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Think like a customer

Following the UK elections it is not surprising that a number of the stories that weren't allowed during the election have started to surface. One that resonated from an entrepreneurial standpoint was a story about the new Glasgow Hospital.

This story was not about the services of the facility, but rather about the technology currently being employed. In particular, comments surrounded the new lifts and the check-in procedures.

I do not regard myself as a Luddite, but I wonder about the wisdom of installing a totally new lift concept in a place where stress and trauma abound such as a hospital. In this building floors are elected prior to entering the lift. This means that if you enter the lift and have not selected the floor prior to entering then you are in for a journey of discovery!

Someone sitting at a computer screen, probably with a brain the size of a planet and a common sense quotient below room temperature, realised that a lift could be programmed to pick the most efficient route to deal with the traveller requirement. This would ensure that you only stopped at pre-selected floors.

Of course, this means that if you are the only one to want a floor and you did not select prior to entry then you are likely to spend your time travelling all over the place until someone outside does select the floor you want! 

The hospital's solution to this problem is to employ an army of 'lift educators' to teach people how to use the lifts. Regardless of the fact that such learning will be undone the minute they get in a lift outside of the hospital, I for one don't want an education session on lift operation prior to an operation, an examination or a visit to a poorly relative.

Added to that, the time taken for people to absorb change can be a relatively long time, made longer by the fact that the pupils of this education will hopefully be ever changing as one wouldn't want the patients of the new facility to become a small repeat community!

Even with an idea as clever as a shopping trolley for supermarkets the inventor had to pay people for two years to use them before they became accepted!

The other smart idea is to instal self-check-ins for patients. Now forgive me for being old fashioned, but I do seem to have read somewhere that a high number of patients are either advanced in years or are with children. The concept of trying to wrestle with technology in order to get to your appointment does seem to be an added stress rather than a stress removal.

And yet, all of this could have been avoided if the geek at the design computer had bothered to visit a hospital and study the customers. Understand your user, understand the environment and understand the psychology of the situation. If the person had imagined themselves ill and traumatised they would have surely done things differently.

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