When I think of the word integrity in its simplest form, it comes down to two things: doing what is right, and doing what you say you will do.
In context of the patient experience, the “doing what is right” part is really about being patient centered. Doing what is right for the patient. Then there is the “doing what you say you will do” part. This is where so many great opportunities fall apart, especially with service recovery.
Just yesterday I had been trying to make a reservation online, and for some reason the site locked me out “for security reasons.” I was irritated but thought that it could be the browser, so I logged in again using another browser. This one also had me locked out, so my irritation was building. I needed help, and decided to pick up the phone, but there was no number listed anywhere on the site, and no chat option either. When I saw this, it confirmed to me that they really don’t want calls at all. There was only an FAQ section, and none of their prefabricated answers fit my question. My irritation escalated.
On the bright side, I had discovered a website that gives (otherwise unlisted) support phone numbers. I called the company and actually got to talk to a human. She was polite and apologetic as she clicked away on her computer trying to help. No such luck. She could see that I was locked out but couldn’t do anything about it. She told me I’d have to wait a few hours, and try again. I waited 6 hours, and was still locked out, so I called the secret number again. This time I got another polite, sweet and apologetic attendant who stated that she had escalated my concern, and that a tech would call me within the hour to help. After waiting two hours, I went to bed. When I woke up I had no missed calls. They had failed me with their product, and with their service, but now it was also an issue of integrity. They had not followed through on a promise.
In this example, you can see how my irritation was building, and yet I had hope for resolution, and felt that we were working together. We were a team seeking a solution. I was giving them the chance to make things right. When they failed to follow through with a promise, I lost respect and trust for their organization. Just think how much more serious this breach would be if my life, or at least my physical wellbeing was on the line.
If this example was in context of patient care, or responsiveness to a patient phone call, the impact would be magnified tenfold. This is precisely why follow through is so important, as well as closing the loop on service recovery. Only one in 20 people will actually complain to you. The rest will quietly slip away, but will tell others.