The world of medical care is increasingly one of customer-centered service delivery focus, as the patient/consumer has more choices in the marketplace. However, hospitals may lag in this transition to a better patient experience. This lag is due in part to the lack of choice patient/customers have over where they are admitted for care due to third-party payers. Also, the intensely high-stakes, immediate, highly-trained medical care required of service providers for good outcomes takes precedence in many cases over a customer-centric focus. The foreign high-tech servicescape contributes to increasingly stressed patient/customer, due not only to the emotional state of being hospitalized (or having a hospitalized loved one), but also due to such things as loss of control and often mysterious service delivery practices that have been described as a service delivery “black box” (Berry 2015). Medical service providers, due to their constant immersion in the service environment, may experience what we term “black box service blindness”—an unintentional state of being oblivious to sources of fear and stress in their customers because of being highly acclimated to their surroundings, procedures, and service delivery traditions.
Stay tuned for thoughts on the tensions inherent in this transition.