In the world of NEMT, our drivers are one of the biggest assets that we can have. Delivering Service Excellence is, without doubt, one of the most important duties the NEMT driver can execute. We rely on their performance on the street, and they are one of the first representatives that customers will see and interact with. How will they perform? How will they treat and interact with our customers? These are some of the questions that we will talk about in this blog.
What does Service Excellence Mean?
In the world of NEMT, I define Service Excellence as “when the NEMT driver goes above and beyond and exceeds the normal and customary passenger expectations in regard to passenger safety, passenger assistance, passenger communications, and the unexpected extras given to our passengers.”
It is important for us to understand how do we get our drivers to provide Service Excellence? Well, it all starts with the individuals training, and the type of person we hire.
The Person We Hire.
Service Excellence starts with the person that we hire. Remember that most of the time, NEMT companies will start with hiring an individual with a skill set that is outside of this industry. When we hire, we need to consider the persons Can Do factors and their Will Do factors. Can Do factors, as we discussed in a previous blog, will focus in on the persons Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities of the job. The Will do factors are made up of the persons Values, Motivation, and Personality. So, when we hire someone, we will need to give them the knowledge, skills, and abilities to service our customers. And, when we make Service Excellence a priority, then the persons Will Do factors of values, motivation, and personality will kick in and provide Service Excellence in the manner of which we expect it to be.
Training is the foundation by which we build Service Excellence. Customer Service is just one of the blocks in the foundation. Providing training in the following areas is critical to the NEMT driver: Passenger Safety, Passenger Assistance, Passenger Communication, and Unexpected Extras.
Passenger Safety begins when we take control of the passenger and begin to load them onto our vehicles, transport them to their destination, and unload them from our vehicles. Whether they are in a wheelchair, scooter, uses a lift, uses a ramp, or is ambulatory, our drivers need to understand the Duty of Care and the responsibility that is expected, and that the safety of the passenger is in our hands. Passenger safety can be in learned in many different areas of training such as defensive driving, mobility device securement, passenger assistance, vehicle cleanliness, vehicle maintenance, vehicle operations, on time performance, are all part of the skills, abilities, and job knowledge that an NEMT driver must possess to keep passengers safe.
Passenger Assistance is understanding exactly how to, and when to assist the passenger. It is important for all NEMT drivers to understand the proper techniques involved with mobility device assistance, movement, lift, and ramp use, and with passengers who are ambulatory. Where to stand, what to say, how to say it, asking questions, and how to ensure the passengers safety while assisting are important factors. NEMT drivers have to understand that a mobility device or an assistive device is an extension of our customer. Knowing where they can assist by pushing, pulling, where to stand, or touching is important.
Passenger Communication It is important for the NEMT driver to understand how to communicate with passengers. When providing Service Excellence, good communication skills are essential. The driver will need to be able to talk to the passenger is such a way that is not talking down to them, not talking away from them, but to them, telling them what they are going to do to assist the passenger, asking permission to touch the mobility device or the persons arm, shoulder, or hand. Good, polite, conversation will go a long way to developing Service Excellence. We know that not all passengers can be un- pleasant, argumentative, or difficult to transport for many reasons. Their medical condition, medication, not sleeping, etc. can affect them. It is up to the driver to see past this type of situation and focus on assisting the passenger and communicating to them.
Unexpected Extra’s! This is the area where drivers can excel and provide exceptional service to the passengers. NEMT drivers can make all the difference in the world for passengers. Everything from making sure that the area is safe for them to exit the vehicle, checking for any left items on the vehicle, making sure that your drop off is close enough to the address you are transporting them to. Helping them find correct doors to enter, watching for difficult terrain for passengers to negotiate through, etc. NEMT drivers need to have empathy for passengers and caring about them and their transportation situation is important. Making them feel good when they are greeted by the driver, a smiling hello, or how is your day going, and having a good driver attitude about the job is helpful in providing exceptional service.
In this day and age when passengers have options to ride, it is important for the NEMT drivers to provide exceptional Customer Service Excellence. It begins with hiring the right people and understanding the job with a solid foundational training program. Remember that our drivers are the first person that passengers typically will meet. Their actions or lack of actions can have important effects on your bottom line. Make sure that you set the driver’s expectations and that they understand their responsibilities and Duty of Care. It is important to make Customer Service Excellence a priority in all areas of our operation.
In our next discussion we will be talking about helping employees understanding “Duty of Car” and what it means to your operation. For more information, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit my website at www.synergizeconsulting.solutions
See You Next Time!
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