Siri, text Malcolm: Sorry, on way, I’ll be 20 minutes late. Dave.

If you do not respect your clients time, they will stop being your client.

10 seconds.  Ten seconds is all it takes to let your client know that you are running late or there’s been a change in plans.

One of the most common complaints that we receive at Bheard is about workers being late, cancelling without notice…or, simply not turning up. This is rude and disrespectful to your consumers.

If your friend said they were coming to your house at 11:00, or you had agreed to meet them at a café, how would you feel if they were 15 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour late or didn’t show up at all?  You might think you had the wrong, time, day or place. You might feel slightly annoyed or irritated. But what if this happened consistently?

But what if it happened consistently and you had low self-esteem, or were depressed, or experienced anxiety? Would you feel it is your fault, that your friend does not want to see you, or that they do not really like you?

What if this meeting was a big thing that you had prepared yourself for, was the main reason to get you out of bed, or out of the house to meet people? Would you feel that meeting with them is not worthwhile…that trying to do things is pointless?

We have all been running late or had to cancel, but technology makes it easy to let people know.

When consumers call Bheard to complain about late, cancelled or missed appointments it is always because it has happened frequently.  People who call to complain are a very small proportion those who have experienced it, most people don’t complain. Staff who have a pattern of tardiness with one client are likely to be the same with other clients.

One person called monthly to report late or cancelled appointments. Their diary identified date and time of appointment, date and time the support worker showed up or called to cancel.   The service manager thought this problem was fixed, but it kept recurring. In one four-month period the worker cancelled on the day, or failed to show up for almost 40% of the scheduled appointments. For those that they did show up for they were generally late.  The consumer said “…why couldn’t he just text me and tell me he was late or not coming? It’s not fair to leave me standing outside.

The consumer felt bad about complaining. They felt they were in trouble with the service for complaining so much.  They didn’t want to get their support worker into trouble. Because the service responded to the issues raised through Bheard, the client stayed. Service responses resulted in improved staff behaviour for a few weeks, but then the same staff patterns re-emerged.

The NDIS increased the support package for this client from one hour per week, to four hours per week; $17,000 per year. As the NDIS rolled out in the local area more providers entered the market. There have been service expos and advertisements in the local paper. The client has started to shop around. They are talking to their friends who also receive NDIS services.

Bheard can let services know about how their frontline staff behave and track the impact of how the service responds. This is a key step in managing frontline performance and strong foundation for service redesign. But, it is how well the service responds to consumers that determines their ultimate success and business viability.

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