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The Client Experience

By Office Manager Debbi Smith

I am a newcomer to the mental health field having spent 20 years in catalog retail in a customer service role.  One of my tasks was to act as the customer advocate and to be the “voice of the customer” within the organization.  The companies I worked for all had big budgets and endless staff to take care of everything.  Still, it was often very difficult to get everyone thinking of the customer rather than their specific part of the whole.  Often I would hear things like “I’m MIS, I don’t have anything to do with the customer.”

When I joined Customer Service at UCS four years ago, I again began to think about the customer experience or in our case, the client experience.  How could I make sure that the experience our clients had with us was positive from beginning to end?  And how could I do it with a small budget and very limited staff?  What were the things that made for a positive interaction between us and the client?  I must admit I was daunted by the fact that the stakes were so much higher.  Instead of thinking about how much money we would make, I had to look at the effect we had on people’s lives.  Yikes!  This was more than I had bargained for.

As I became familiar with UCS and my role within the agency, I began to realize that I didn’t need to be the voice of our client.  Instead, every staff member at UCS was already in that role and doing very well at it.  Our values statement “Helping others helps us all” was alive and well in the agency at every level, in every division.  Those of us blessed with good mental health had answered the call to help those who were not.  Staff had created a warm and welcoming haven for clients who often times did not have much they could count on.  UCS was a place where clients would be welcomed by everyone and given help by caring and compassionate professionals.  The more familiar I got with the agency the more I saw this.

But, this is not an easy task and I realized that despite best intentions, occasionally we get sidetracked.  The reasons for this are many and have to do with increasing workload, budget cuts and staff shortages, changing roles and ever present change.  So, in case you might have forgotten for the moment, here is a gentle reminder.  You are everything to our client.  No matter what your role, no matter what your program, you matter to our client.  Your energy and effort goes everyday to making a client’s life better in ways great and small.

Even if you never actually see a client, you are an integral part in helping them have a better life.

So – MIS, thank you for storing and keeping safe client information, you matter to the client.  Hey, CRT and DS, the client counts on your expert help each and every day.  Head Start – you are helping kids at a critical point in their development.  Outpatient in Bennington and Manchester, the client thinks you rock!  Administration, Maintenance and HR, thank you on behalf of the client, you are making their lives better.  Emergency Services – the client counts on you during times of crisis and knows you’ve got their back.  And SCS, kids look to you for help and are never turned away.  In conclusion – UCS, you live the mission “helping others helps us all” each and every day.  With our eyes firmly on the client, we go forward as a formidable force of client advocates!

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