icon-email icon-facebook icon-linkedin icon-print icon-rss icon-search icon-stumbleupon icon-twitter icon-arrow-right icon-email icon-facebook icon-linkedin icon-print icon-rss icon-search icon-stumbleupon icon-twitter icon-arrow-right icon-user Skip to content
Senior Correspondent

Most of us spend a great deal of time and energy taking care of our customers, clients, or patients. We know great customer service is the key to repeat business and great referrals. And we know that striving for excellence in our work is extremely gratifying. On the flip side, when we fall short of our personal or professional standards, we may become self-critical. Stress, unrealistic expectations, and nagging self-criticism may put unnatural and debilitating pressure on us from within.

In chatting with niece Stephanie, she enthusiastically shared insights from a health care conference she was attending. Soon to become a nurse, this conference could not have come at a better time. Steph was energized by learning about an inside-out approach to providing excellent patient care, based on work by Mary Koloroutis.

In her book, Relationship-Based Care: A Model for Transforming Practice, Mary Koloroutis offers a model for assuring that patients will experience caring and compassion, along with great medical treatment. In this Take Good Care model, she proposes that consistently providing great patient care or customer service is an inside-out proposition.

Simply put, the Take Good Care Philosophy goes like this.

    * Take Good Care of Yourself
    * Take Good Care of your Co-Workers
    * Take Good Care of your Patients (or customers, if you are in an environment other than health care)

Koloroutis elaborates on this inside-out approach:

Take Good Care of Yourself – "Effective self-care means that individuals possess the skills and knowledge to manage their own stress, articulate personal needs and values and balance the demands of the job with their physical health and well-being."

This one is tricky for most of us overachievers.

So we're not seeing how to plan a summer vacation or even how to schedule a three-day weekend. I get it! Then it's time for mini-retreats, or short timeouts!

How about?

  • Taking several long, slow deep breaths.                                                                                                                 
  • Getting up, going to the restroom and splashing cold water on your face.                                                                 
  • Taking a short walk, preferably out doors.                                                                                                             
  • Heading to the fitness center for a workout.                                                                                                            
  • Putting on your favorite music.                                                                                                                                 
  • Taking a power nap.       
  • Praying.                                                                                                                                                                             
  • Meditating.                                                                                                                                                            
  • Watching a fun movie.                                                                                                                                     
  • Brainstorming your own list of mini-retreats.

Take Good Care of Your Co-Workers – This can also be tricky. Healthy interpersonal working relationships lead to great customer service. Unhealthy working relationships lead to deteriorating customer service and loss of valued relationships. Healthy relationships are characterized by trust, mutual respect, consistent and visible support, and open and honest communication.

Take Good Care of Your Customers – Maintaining a customer-centered focus is what we all must do to survive and thrive. Whether we are serving paying customers, internal customers, clients, citizens, or patients, we all have customers. And customers have choices. Happy customers tell only a few people about their positive experience. Unhappy customers tell dozens.

Our ability to provide excellence in customer care depends greatly on how well we are treating ourselves and how healthy our working relationships are. Our organization's ability to sustain an excellent level of customer service depends greatly upon individuals treating themselves and their co-workers with excellence.

Inspired by all of this, it's time to treat myself with excellence. It's time for an excellent bike ride. I hope my clients can tell the difference.

Stay Up to Date

Sign up for articles by Phil Zuckerman and other Senior Correspondents.

Latest Stories

Choosing Senior Living
Love Old Journalists

Our Mission

To amplify the voices of older adults for the good of society

Learn More