Sometimes a very simple thing can show empathy and caring in a way that feels small but is really important.

For example, I was at a Panera Bread in Western Massachusetts at about 6:30 AM when I noticed a sign by the coffee maker – it told me exactly when that pot of coffee had been brewed.  It doesn’t seem like a big deal to put out a sign to let you know when the coffee was made.  But think about the impact.  First, you have customers who are happy because they know they are getting fresh coffee.  Next, you save the staff time answering the question:  Is this coffee fresh?  Third, you have built in accountability because if the coffee is not replaced in a timely fashion, the customers will definitely let you know.

So, the three seconds it took to write in the time the coffee was made results in at least three levels of customer service and satisfaction.

There are plenty of examples like this in healthcare.  One quick example is writing down the name a patient prefers to be called on a board in their inpatient room, or on the top of their chart in an outpatient setting.  Your patient, whose given name is “John” but prefers to be called “Jack” is going to read a lot into whether or not he has to explain to every single staff member, “Please call me Jack.”  One three second act of writing it down to inform the rest of the staff helps build trust, satisfaction, and accountability, just like the Panera coffee sign.

Do you have three seconds to build trust?