Walking home at night, have you ever wondered why you do not get a bill through your door for the street lighting that you use? You use it every evening, it lights your way home, it makes you feel safe, it’s always there. You are therefore a user of this service, or a “service user” if you prefer, so why are you not sent a bill?
What has been clear to me for long time now, is that a service user is not a customer, that is why you do not directly pay for this service. If any rational person was asked to pay for street lighting, they would say “no”, since the rational person could not quantify how much they used versus the next person. The rational person would say “someone else will pay for it, so I do not need to”.
However, if the same rational person was asked to pay for care for themselves, of course they would say yes, since, this is a service that they are receiving themselves, they have individual benefits from receiving this service, this service is for them and them alone and more importantly, no other rational individual will pay for them. This is why I believe that the person getting the care is not a ‘service user’ but a customer. The word ‘customer’ comes with several underlying connotations, and the one that everyone remembers is “customer is King”.
It’s about time the management and leadership in the social care industry started treating the people that they care for as customers and not just users of a service. Does this really make a big difference? Yes it does, the customer is King, whereas the user is just a number. We need to constantly remind the leadership that no industry in history has ever developed, let alone survived without listening to their customers.
We do not have any service users at Acacia Homecare, we only have customers.