Caring for service when caring for others

Sitting in a place to get my blood taken for routine tests as part of a physical.I go to the local pathology clinic, walk in to an empty waiting room, receptionist sitting behind desk moving papers. I stand patiently behind the desk. No acknowledgment. I see a sign saying "take a number", but surely this only applies when there are people waiting. I say nothing wondering when my obvious presence will be noted. After what seems like 5 minutes, the combined sound of my breathing and her paper shuffling, she speaks. Only I'm asked to be seated and wait until she can serve me. I sit, and sit and sit. Then one of the nurses comes out and sees me. She asks "have you been looked after?" I answer smiling "Now I have". And was I ever. Nicest friendliest person ever to take my blood. Plus I didn't even feel it. Contrast this experience to my visit at a new doctors office the other day. The practice is high traffic with 6 doctors, as many patients waiting and two front desk staff. Though both ladies at the desk were clearly busy, as soon as I walked into the room they looked up. They both smiled while one checked me in. The attention, friendliness and attitude was all about making me feel welcome and attended to.

So my question-what is the factor for personable service, especially where the customer might be a bit more worried than usual? I ask this since anyone visiting places for medical tests or other checkups surely isn't there for fun. The real difference is in how an experience you don't enjoy becomes as bearable or even as pleasant as possible. Yes I could have spoken up. Yes I could have followed the rule for busy days. Yes I could shift my perception and seek first to understood. But REAL service is about acknowledging the existence of me as a person and seizing the opportunity for a moment of human connection in an ever increasing automated and virtual world.

Next time though I might set the example rather than wait and see.