In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

March 31, 2016

Chocolate, Customer Service … and Mayo Clinic

By In the Loop

New chemotherapy spaces provide comfort, room for family. What do chocolate and customer service have in common? If you asked us, you'd probably get an answer that had something to do with having chocolate available to customers. But according to a story in Forbes magazine, the relationship goes a little deeper. (Imagine that.)

Forbes contributor Micah Solomon starts out a piece called "What Eating Chocolate Can Teach You About Customer Service And Building A Great Customer Experience" by highlighting recent research at Yale University that found "chocolate tastes best when two or more people are eating it together." That finding, he writes, "held true even if the two people eating the chocolate didn't share a single word with each other." (We understand being that focused on chocolate.)

Further into his story, Solomon applies the theory that proximity helps people connect by highlighting design work being done by Mayo Clinic to improve both the relationships and connections between caregivers and patients. "Mayo Clinic has changed the design (of) its buildings and even its furniture to encourage relationships, building larger rooms for doctor-patient consultations so their families and loved ones can attend, and installing custom-built furniture that comfortably allows everyone to have a seat," Solomon writes.

Aaron Biedermann of Mayo's Center for Innovation tells us Solomon is alluding to the design work being done at the new Mayo Clinic Building on Mayo's Arizona campus. Center for Innovation service designers Allison Matthews and Diane Klein add that a multitude of "patient-focused features" have been put in place to better meet the needs of patients. Features like dedicated patient education rooms, boutique stores, "friends and family caregiver lounge," virtual check-in kiosks, and a new "50-bay" chemotherapy infusion unit.

"One of the things we wanted to do in Arizona was to get as much of the cancer practice under one roof as possible to make it easier for patients and families to navigate their treatment journeys there," Klein says. "In Rochester, we did that by trying to make those spaces as family friendly as possible by putting in new treatment chairs that are not only more comfortable, but that also help make a patient's interactions with their care team easier."

There have been cosmetic changes as well, thanks to the help of staff from Mayo's Facilities and Planning Services department. "Another thing we've tried to do is to make the finishes in all of our spaces friendlier and less clinical-looking," says Matthews. "In Phoenix, for example, we've tried to use the colors of the desert so that everything ties in with the outside environment and doesn't seem so sterile."

Given the reaction from patients, Matthews and Klein say the changes have been worth the effort. "Many patients here in Rochester have told me they feel like these spaces have been built just for them," Klein says. Which of course, is the whole point. (Regardless of the chocolate situation, we're sure.)

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Tags: Aaron Biedermann, Allison Matthews, Center for Innovation, Diane Klein, Employee Stories, Innovation, Mayo Clinic Building, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Practice story

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