Sunday, November 30, 2008

Employee Satisfaction + Service Excellence = Customer Evangelists

The Crisis

Faced with a well documented financial meltdown, the global consequences and a deep national recession, how can a hospital or system CEO keep the doors open and the lights on?

The answer is simple, yet complex and difficult to carry out. Few try and most of those that do fail.

Think about this for a moment, there is little if any differentiation in the healthcare marketplace. Hospitals on average look the same. They provide the same services, have the same managed contracts contract and even have similar medical staffs. Patient satisfaction runs in the 80th – 90th percentile satisfied. Looks like an industry that is very close to becoming a commodity which will eventually compete on price alone.

The hospital CEO, medical business leader, managing partner, vice president, director or manger needs to be creating customer evangelists to not just survive, but grow and thrive in this and any future environment.

The answer: Customer Evangelists!

A customer evangelist is an individual, who has such an outstanding service experience that they freely become your positive spokesperson in the community. They are not paid. They have no financial sake in your survival, but have come to believe so completely in what you do, they drive business to you. This happens because you have highly satisfied employees that provide exemplary, detailed, person-focused service.

Notice I did not say patient or customer satisfaction. Anyone can have good and even high patient satisfaction scores, and that my friend is the fix you are in- high satisfaction scores do not for one minute translate into customer evangelists. Don’t stop measuring satisfaction; you have to for a variety of reasons. I say focus on creating customer evangelists and the scores will be fine.

The tile of the post says it all Employee Satisfaction + Service Excellence = Customer Evangelists. From now on, my posts are going to focus on this topic. I will be talking about creating an environment that results in highly satisfied employees and putting processes and systems in place to be able to provide outstanding customer service to create customer evangelists. It is an unassailable position in the market. Do you want to be a market leader in healthcare? Do you want to grow and not merely hang on? Do you want the best doctors on your medical staff? Then create customer evangelists.

Some notes and comments:

RSNA starts in Chicago this week. Stop by the Agfa Healthcare booth. They do have the finest PACS I have ever seen and had the privilege to market. Agfa has had a tough couple of years with the never ending restructuring and global leadership changes, but if you are going to RSNA at McCormick Place, take the time to learn about their IMPAX PACS, you won’t be sorry.

Retail Clinics:

I would like to clarify a couple of things about my blog on retail clinics. I do understand them very well. Yes, it is a model that has the potential to lessen some of the waiting and service problems experienced in healthcare delivery, but they are not the answer.

I go to a physician who does not have a NP or PA. My kid’s did see a PA but that was under direct supervision of a physician. The retail clinics popping up are not and let me be very clear about this, not under the direct supervision of a physician. And yes there is a quality of care difference between those PAs and NPs under direct supervision of a doctor and those not. Most of these companies creating these clinics do not even have a medical director, so please, let us not place them on par with physician treatment when they have trouble keeping up with changing standards of care and all that counts is the bottom-line.

As to the accreditation argument, accreditation means that the organization has meet the minimum acceptable standards of the organization that is conferring accreditation. You don’t get points or any other kind of awards for going above and beyond those standards. You paid your fee. Maybe there was an on-site survey. If you passed and few fail, you received a certificate and can say you’re accredited. It is a piece of paper that does not guarantee anything.

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