Lead Turnaround at Baptist Hospital
With Expert Help from The Doug Williams Group, Hospital Staff
Raises the Bar
by John Fries
As assistant vice president at Baptist Hospital, Arlenna Williams
oversees several of the facility’s support departments. A hands-on
administrator, she also leads an ongoing, hospital-wide service excellence
initiative aimed at enhancing the service provided by Baptist to its
patients, their families, and hospital staff. According to Williams,
the initiative—now in its second year—is producing highly favorable
Last summer, however, the hospital realized a need to seek outside
help in addressing issues related to increased customer satisfaction.
Baptist Hospital’s environmental services department, which reports
administratively to Williams, wasn’t earning high customer satisfaction
scores--particularly from the nursing units.
Although the environmental services department’s 200 employees were
hard-working, there seemed to be disconnects between the department
and the units, and a perception that housekeeping service wasn’t what
it could be. The question was how to identify where those disconnects
existed, and what to do about it.
"It was obvious that we needed to have a focused effort," said Williams,
"so I decided to look for outside expertise."
She didn’t have to look far. The Doug Williams Group (TDWG; no relation
to Arlenna), based in South Florida, has an impressive track record
of helping organizations achieve remarkable customer service results.
"I was familiar with their work and reputation, so I asked them to
assess our situation and help us implement improvements," she said.
A Unique Approach to Identifying Concerns
A consulting team from The Doug Williams Group met with Arlenna, who
described the situation. The first step, in an effort to gain further
insight and understanding of where the perceived problems existed,
was to develop a unique, structured survey that asked nurses to evaluate
the Environmental Services department. The brief questionnaire focused
on such criteria as accessibility, responsiveness, cooperation, initiative,
courtesy, and overall quality. The survey was used as a guideline
for over 50 personal interviews with nurse "internal customers", representing
all shifts and operational areas served by Environmental Services.
When the results were compiled, it became apparent that the nurses’
perceptions of environmental services staff needed to be improved.
The major issues that needed to be addressed included problems during
shift changes and responsiveness to calls and pages. Other common
complaints were unemptied trash, unstocked bathrooms and supply closets,
unclean floors, and unfriendly attitudes.
Employees Take The Lead
Once The Doug Williams Group had a clear picture of the nurses’ concerns,
a senior management consultant, Ray McAllister, met with environmental
services employees to share the nurses’ comments.
"Ray worked closely with the environmental services staff, and he
engaged them very quickly," said Arlenna. "They opened up to him and
developed a great relationship with him."
Moving forward, McAllister recommended that the employees form a team
and meet regularly to discuss how they could improve the service they
provide to their internal and external customers. He would facilitate
and provide support as needed, but he made it clear that it would
be the employees’ team. They would be directly responsible for leading
the meetings, discussing the issues, proposing solutions, making the
decisions, and implementing new practices and processes.
The employees took their responsibility very seriously," says Arlenna.
"They were determined to change the perception of the department."
The customer satisfaction improvement team, which consisted of 15
employees, reviewed the nurses’ concerns with open minds and a determination
to improve. A priority issue for the team became the quality of the
work – or perceived lack of it – from one shift to the next.
Consistently, the night shift was viewed as when the least work was
being performed. Another complaint was the perceived unfriendliness
of the staff. One nurse commented that they could be nicer to patients
and families; another asked if they would simply smile.
Developing Creative Solutions
Once the problems were discussed among the improvement team, suggestions
began to flow, and numerous good ideas were raised. One of them was
the creation, by the team, of a series of scripting cards filled with
customer service guidelines for everything from delivering excellent
service to working with a positive attitude. The scripting cards,
which also outlined the principles of common courtesy and encouraged
friendliness with fellow hospital employees, patients, and family
members, were provided to each environmental services employee as
a reminder of what was expected from each of them.
Then, the employee team took a giant, creative leap outside the box
by writing, producing, and starring in a teaching video that dramatized
various hospital scenarios in which staff and employees interacted
with each other, as well as with patients and visitors. The video
was shown to fellow staff members and reflected the information on
the scripting cards.
Since the improvement team was formed and improvements began last
fall, the success of the initiative has been reflected in the patient
satisfaction data collected and analyzed on an ongoing basis by Press
Ganey. "Before this initiative, we were in the 82nd percentile," said
Arlenna. "Today, we’re in the 94th percentile. The employees have
done a superb job. They’re proud of what they’re accomplishing, and
so am I."
The environmental services improvement team continues to meet and
explore opportunities for improvement. In light of their success,
Arlenna says she plans to develop more employee improvement teams
to tackle other issues, and, in fact, has created a staff advisory
group, comprised of employees, who review new hospital initiatives
and provide insight and feedback.
Doug Williams, TDWG’s president and CEO, whose firm has played a key
role in many turnarounds and culture change initiatives, is also pleased
with the outcomes.
"We are proud to support an excellent organization such as Baptist
Hospital of Miami and to see firsthand what the environmental services
staff are accomplishing though determination, focus, and teamwork.