Justice was sitting in his driveway on a rainy Monday morning waiting for the school bus to pick him up and start the new week. His normal sitting spot while awaiting the bus was at the end of his yard next to the curb of the cul-de-sac. Today was different. It had been a rainy morning and the ground was saturated. Instead of waiting on the covered porch Justice decided to await the bus while sitting at the end of the driveway on the concrete with his backpack strapped to his shoulders and a small umbrella to protect him from the rain.
His neighbors shared a common driveway between the two homes and, on this morning, Betty, the neighbor, had to leave for work early to make final preparations for an important presentation with the board of directors. Betty’s company was struggling financially and Betty was under increasing stress of getting transferred or, worse, potentially being downsized and laid off. Betty left the house in a rush, opened the door to her Cadillac and quickly started the engine and backed out of the driveway.
She took no notice of her surroundings with the exception that she checked her mirrors and saw nothing evident through the blur of the rain covered glass. The thought did not occur to her that the elementary school bus picked up the children on her cul-de-sac at about this time each morning. After backing out of the driveway, she quickly threw the transmission into gear and accelerated toward the intersection.
At the intersection, she heard some kids yelling and carrying on but took no particular notice. Besides, the work meeting and her company’s financial position were foremost on her thoughts. Just before reaching thirty miles per hour, two children jumped in front of her car waving frantically. Betty slammed on the brakes, stopped the car, and got out thinking “What are you kids doing?” Before she could speak, one child yelled “Justice is caught on the back of your car!” and she saw the other boy run to the passenger rear corner of her fender. Betty gasped in horror as she saw a young blond boy dangling from the fender of her Cadillac, apparently caught and dragged along by his backpack for somewhere between her home and the middle of the street.
Judy, Justice’s mother, asked around to her friend who worked for a local durable medical equipment company, to see if she could get some advice on wheelchairs. Judy indicated that her son had received third degree burns and had been at Children’s hospital for the past week receiving burn treatments for damage to legs and shoulder areas. Following an extended hospitalization, Judy met with the elementary school administration who instructed her that her child needed to begin attending classes immediately or he would be required to either  attend summer school or  repeat the forth grade next year. Judy felt that in no way was her son ready to attend classes. He struggled with walking and needed to keep his left leg elevated to reduce pain and swelling.
Even though the wheel chair provided to Judy’s son was simple in design, not customized, and did not necessarily fit perfectly, Judy was grateful for the prompt service and delivery of a wheel chair that would provide a solution for her son’s immediate need.
In consideration of this story, I think about how something as seemingly simple as prompt delivery and service to a family in need of a basic item both helped in reducing the stress that this mother was going through and solved an immediate need by providing a means for Justice to attend school while his leg healed over the next two weeks.
Now project a little further into this scenario: a person, loved one, who has had a debilitating accident or progressively debilitating disease and has lost most functioning in his or her arms and legs. The miracle of the previous story is that the child survived the accident and, even during the painful recovery, remained hopeful of a full recovery in a relatively short time. Many disabled persons are not entitled to such hope. Their lives remain forever complicated by their disability and reliance upon others for assistance. Those of us who work in the rehabilitation / mobility device industry must keep our paradigms intensely focused upon client outcomes. Consequently, what many of us frequently forget is that outcomes are very much dependent upon processes. A friendly, interactive face, promises kept, and client centered customer service go al long way toward making a person’s experience positive, no matter how difficult their situation. Positive outcomes are not mutually exclusive of a favorable process. Take the case of the young boy and the wheel chair. The medical device solved the physical problem of temporary mobility; however, I would contend that the value of the customer service remained equally as important so at least the stress could be reduced by knowing and trusting fully that their mobility needs were being met.
Here at Active American, we pride ourselves on taking every individual case personally, trying our best to empathize with the client and their story through customer service and communication. It is difficult enough to admit that you are currently in a situation in life that you have to depend on equipment for mobility or actually need help from others to get through whatever the situation might be… working with a company that offers great customer service we feel is an absolute must.