Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Customer Experience Management Applied to Healthcare- Part 6

So why are you not talking to your customers-patients in experience management?

As I look across the changing healthcare landscape, there is a movement gaining momentum to improve the patient and customer experience. Case studies and published articles are appearing in healthcare on Customer Experience Management (CEM). And don't get me wrong, wonderful improvements are being made. But when I delve into these improvement activities, one common denominator is missing and it concerns me.

If you are engaged in the CEM process correctly, that means you are talking to and listening to your customers or patients. Healthcare providers, such as MD Anderson as well as others, are actively pursuing customer and patient engagement that includes an intense and focused effort to actively talk and listen to their customers and patients. But unfortunately, they are far and few between.

Are you using only one means of gathering customer or patient experience intelligence?

There is no doubt that customer-patient satisfaction is an important outcome and can indicate where there are problems in the experience process. An excellent place to start to ask the question why, using the various tools of six sigma etc., to start the improvement process. Improvements are being made and satisfaction as measured by the various tools used improves, indicating success. No question about it and well documented.

But you are still not talking and listening to your customer-patients?

And I really don't understand why that is occurring.

Customer Experience Management requires that you actively engage in multiple ways to talk and listen to your customers-patients. Using one tool to accomplish that misses the point and you are losing valuable customer feedback. If you are not using multiple methods quantitatively and qualitatively to talk and listen to your customers-patients, you are not doing true Customer or Patient Experience Management.

Could it be potentially that healthcare leadership is by nature imperialistic?

Healthcare imperialism is an attitude derived from years of making decisions without customer or patient feedback. Because of training or knowledge, perceived status or being a not-for-profit whose espoused vision is focused on the community, healthcare providers can be imperialistic in their thinking that they know all or see all. The customer-patient can't possibly understand what we are doing. It's too technically complicated, or they don't have the knowledge and training that we do. We can no longer afford to think that way, and individuals seeking our care will no longer accept an imperialistic attitude.

Maybe it's because we are afraid of the answers we might get?

Asking your customers-patients about their experiences, needs and desires can be a scary proposition. Even so, as we move inextricably to a consumer-driven healthcare model and less of a healthcare provider-dominated model, talking and listening carefully are skills that need to be developed.

Take a step back.

Evaluate why you're afraid to talk to your customers and make those internal changes that will allow you to seek out open and honest feedback beyond satisfaction. Customer or Patient Experience Management is not easy and there are no shortcuts. Experience Management forces you, if done correctly, to potentially face some uncomfortable truths about your healthcare organization. It will also give you those shinning moments of organizational success to build upon.

To survive you need to get the process of Customer or Patient Experience Management right the first time. Hospital volumes and admission are down and are not coming back to previous levels of utilization. People are finding high-quality, low-cost, well known established brand options to traditional healthcare providers to receive care. Once those purchase patterns are established they are very difficult to break.

Time to start asking the questions you never really wanted an answer too. And listening to those answers.

You can continue the conversation with me on:

Michael Krivich is a senior healthcare marketing executive and internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger read daily in over 20 countries around the world. A Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives as well as a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association, he can be reached at or 815-293-147. Areas of expertise include: brand management; strategic marketing; sales and marketing integration; physician marketing; product launch; start-up launch and revenue growth; tactical market planning; customer experience management; rebuilding and revitalizing marketing operations; media relations; and service line revitalizations. Mike is Huthwaite SPIN selling trained and a Miller Heiman Strategic Selling alumni.


laura said...

Good post. The other part to this is recognition that customers vary in how they want to be treated. Selecting staff that embraces a customer service mentality and then empowering those employees to recognize differences in customer preference is key. Some employees just don't get it and that is not acceptable. It is very challenging as you say.

wasim said...

Improvements are being made and satisfaction as measured by the various tools customer experience measurement used improves, indicating success. No question about it and well documented.