We are truly creatures of habit. We drive the same way to work each day, put our car keys in the same spot, slip into the same side of the bed each night etc. For this reason, scripting is a great tool to help create consistency. It can help you form habits that create a better patient experience through consistent communication. But it’s no good if the brain doesn’t remain involved at all times.
I recently had an experience with a credit card company that highlighted the dangers of scripting when placed in the hands of a non-thinker. I called to pay the final balance on my deceased mother’s credit card. I explained my need to cancel the card. If you’ve ever tried to cancel a credit card, you know that they typically transfer you to a customer service agent who will try to keep your business and convince you to keep the card. Here is the conversation.
Me: “My mother has died and I need to cancel her credit card.”
Agent: “You’ll need to talk to customer service about that.”
Customer service: “I understand you are asking to cancel your credit card. May I ask your reason?”
Me: “My mother has died and I am handling her affairs. This is her card and I need to cancel it.”
Customer service: “I see you have been a customer since (pause) 1993. Is there anything we can do to keep your business?”
Me: “No, I think death is pretty final. She won’t be making any further purchases.”
Customer service: “Um. Um. Um.”
The non-thinker was sticking to her script and thus, not hearing what I was saying. If she had listened to my first sentenced, she could have created a whole different experience. What happened is that she made her company look like cold, callous robots.
If you are using scripting in your healthcare settings, make sure that you recognize both the benefits (good habits) and the limitations. You still need to listen to what people are saying and respond appropriately. Scripting is a great tool but doesn’t negate the need for thinking.