Patient Satisfaction…from a Child’s Mouth to Our Ears

Blog 2-11-14In the Forbes article This 15-Year-Old Absolutely Nails What ‘Patient Centered’ Is – And Isn’t, the author addresses patient satisfaction (or a lack thereof) in today’s hospitals. He shows the video of a 15 year old patient who discusses her complaints about her current inpatient stay and her suggestions to make it a better experience.

She talks about the need for sleep, the need to be a part of discussions about her care, and the desire to feel cared about as a person. A key quote is “I am a patient – and I need to be heard!

Whether we’re working with our healthcare clients or those clients in other industries, this desire of customers to be heard can be overwhelming at times. The desire is often so strong because too many organizations are too deaf to the voice of the customer. Too many organizations strategize on what customers want instead of asking the customer. Too many leaders are focused on the product, service, or technical aspect of what they do that they lose sight of the people for whom they provide those services.

Too many hospitals preach customer care but haven’t taken the cultural approach to trying to embed the customer service mindset into every fabric of the organization – from hiring to training to processes to the facility to leadership modeling and internal communications.

They react to the complaints, they review the quarterly patient satisfaction survey results, but they don’t work to create a culture that encourages the ongoing engagement of the customer.

When you think of how to deliver a great customer experience, start with creating a culture of individuals and teams whose collective heart is focused on caring for its customers, and conveying that care for its customers.

Patient Satisfaction…from a Child’s Mouth to Our Ears.

Did you like this post? Here are other Healthcare-related posts:

10 Key Customer Retention Evaluation Questions

Many times when we address key customer retention strategies and customer retention success stories, the crux of what we’re saying is that you have to get to know the customer on more of a personal level. You need to build a relationship and not relegate yourself to viewing a customer as a prospect and selling to them as if you don’t even know them.

But this blog post is different. This time, I want you to envision yourself in a meeting at your business, and the meeting is all about customer retention and growth. Before you can develop a strategy, you have to ask yourself some key questions about your current state:

  1. Do you know why existing customers initially bought?
  2. Do you know why they would not return?
  3. Do you know who your customers view as your competitors?
  4. Do you know what differentiates you from your competitors in your customer’s mind?
  5. Do you know the differences in demographics, purchasing patterns, participation rates of clients who return every year v. those that don’t return?
  6. Do you know what internal operational factors impact those customer retention drivers?
  7. Do you know how you’re performing in those internal operational areas?
  8. Do you stay in contact (proactively) with customers, even when they’re not in your store, on your website, or contacting you directly?
  9. If so, are your proactive communications about you or personalized about them?
  10. In other words, do your proactive communications seek to learn more about them and educate them, or are they primarily pushing your products and services?

Before you embark on the next big strategy, do a self-scan. Find out what you know…or need to know first.

Ask yourself and those in your organization these 10 Key Customer Retention Evaluation Questions.

Did you like this post? Here are other Retention-related posts:

Smart 1-to-1 of Season Ticket Holder Research

Big data? Let’s start with Smart Data.

Pro sports organizations feel they know their fans well, and then they conduct their own fan surveys and are frustrated by the lack of useful information. The results are usually broad brushstrokes of fans – general ratings and likes/dislikes. However, research done the right way creates a 1-to-1 view of specific Season Ticket Holders (STHs). Consider the following 3 profiles of specific fans (we changed their names below) that came out of a research project we conducted for a pro sports club:

  • Fred Smith will definitely renew for next year. In fact, he’s considering adding seats and is likely to want to upgrade his seats. He’s a STH because he loves basketball and the perks associated with being a STH (particularly ticket exchange and the post-game shoot-arounds), but he’s dissatisfied with the direction of the team. He doesn’t know who to contact if he has ticket issues, and he doesn’t know the name of his account representative. Fred’s married, has a doctorate, and usually attends with a business associate or with his wife.
  • Janie Watson is a brand new STH, in her first season with the club. Janie’s uncertain whether she’ll renew her tickets, and although she loves the events, she doesn’t like her seats. She’s 32 years old, single, and loves the relationship with her account representative. She prefers to be contacted via e-mail, and – even though Janie loves her account representative – what’s most important to her is the game itself, getting in/out of parking quickly, her seat location, and getting ticketing needs/issues resolved quickly.
  • Bob Jefferson is somewhat unlikely to renew. He’s been a STH for 7 years, and he has the tickets for family entertainment. He’s become disillusioned the past few years because the ownership preaches family values, but several players and some of the game day staff don’t convey those values. Bob wants more opportunities for kids to interact with players, and he’s particularly dissatisfied with the relationship with his account representative, the attitudes of Security, and the game entertainment. Bob noted that he’d like to talk with someone about his issues with the team.

What would you be able to do with this information for these 3 STHs? The answer should be obvious. You know who to contact about what; you know what SPECIFICS to discuss with each. You know HOW to contact them, and you know whether you’re in sales mode or service recovery/retention-mode.

When you look to do fan research, begin with the end in mind. Structure STH research to tell you the level of information you need to nurture and grow relationships – on a 1-to-1 basis.

Did you like this post? Here are other Sports-related posts:

Customer Service – Look Internally to Ensure Satisfying Externally

With the proliferation of relatively inexpensive online customer satisfaction survey solutions (at least for web-based surveys), there has thankfully been more of a tendency for organizations to ask customers about their experiences. This first-hand feedback can be very helpful for businesses in understanding customer perceptions and preferences.

But organizations can’t be so focused on just getting feedback from customers (those external to the organization) that they ignore many of the internal measures of operations that drive the customer’s (dis)satisfaction.

In the article City, county teaming up to speed land-use permits, Fort Wayne and Allen County governments were recognized for working well together on a new online land-use permitting system. According to the article, “The system will allow developers to track their projects online. It will also help city and county employees track their performance and understand where in the process applications are getting stalled. The system will chart a permit’s progress from department to department. If it is held up too long in one department, the system will red-flag it, and a computer-generated letter will be sent to the applicant.”

The system was developed – in part – to improve customer service. And a large part of that improvement will be driven by the organization looking at internal performance reports that are impacting speed of service processes for external customers.

When you review your customer satisfaction/service performance metrics, think beyond those surveys that customers complete. To truly improve customer service, you have to have effective measures of internal operational performance that impacts service delivery to customers.

Look internally to ensure you’re satisfying externally.

Interested in improving your organization’s customer service? See our other blog posts at: http://serviceadvice.cssamerica.com/category/government/

Learn about our CSS Government services at: http://cssamerica.com/cssgovt.htm

Sample a Sports Survey

When theory moves to practice, it’s always a good thing. As much as we love talking about why and how to conduct client surveys, it’s always helpful to look at actual surveys and pinpoint some key strengths to build into your own tools.

The University of Wisconsin completed a recent survey with season ticket holders (STHs), and there were several positive aspects for you to review so that you can build these into your own STH research:

  • Much of the analysis was based on trending (not every organization is the same, so sometimes the best analysis is against one’s self – over time)
  • Start with the most important data (near the start, they highlight likelihood to purchase and retention drivers immediately in the presentation – again, trending)
  • They sprinkled in sample comments to illustrate the data findings (many people understand data better if there’s a story behind it)
  • It was comprehensive (covering such attributes as game day experience to parking to likelihood to renew to retention drivers and disabilities services)
  • They asked about communication methods/preferences (the survey addressed information sources as well as % of respondents with smart phones, use of smart phones during games, and connectivity).

Issues? They needed more stratification so you could compare answers by customer type or by response. What do students feel v. non-students? What are retention drivers for those married v. those single? What are retention drivers for first year STHs v. those with the Badgers for 15+ years? Luckily, the data is there; they just need to analyze it more fully.

Finally, the presentation was big on overall findings, but it lacked recommendations. It’s the kind of presentation that makes you nod your head and say “interesting” throughout, but at the end you want to ask “Based on this, what are you suggesting we do?”

See this sample sports survey as a fine example of what to ask; now find ways to use the data you gather to make strategic retention and revenue decisions as well as to identify STH-specific retention tactics to employ.

Learn from this Badgers research.

Interested in improving your organization’s fan retention and revenue? See our other blog posts at: http://serviceadvice.cssamerica.com/category/sports/

Learn about our CSS Sports services at: http://cssamerica.com/csssport.htm

A Customer Service Life – from Utilities to Consulting and Politics

Is it easier to deliver great customer service in a private industry than in a public or governmental organization? Yes, because customers of a federal, state, or local municipality don’t have a choice; there’s no competition, and therefore customer service at governmental organizations suffer. Or…No, because all private businesses care about is new sales and marketing, and they don’t truly care about customer service – they view it as purely a cost center.

So who’s right – the Yes crowd or the No crowd?

The real answer is that it’s easier to deliver great customer service if you have leaders who care about customer service – regardless of whether the organization is private or public.

Mayor Terry Sinnott is recognized in the article Meet your Del Mar mayor: Sinnott uses customer service strategies to better Del Mar for his success at San Diego Gas & Electric, as a customer service consultant, and as Mayor. When asked about his philosophies, Sinnott stated “Real effective customer service is based on learning, and you have to interact with customers to learn what they are experiencing and what’s positive and negative, and from that information you can develop new skills and strategies to make it better,”

He continued “The challenge is to figure out the strategy, set goals and help the organization understand the idea and know how to implement it,” he said. “Similarly, issues or ideas presented on the City Council must be represented to the community as best as possible.”

So the crux of these key points is that leaders need to listen to improve, and a big part of listening is asking the questions of all key stakeholder groups and using it to strategize. We’re not asking and reacting, constantly changing based on what fire or hot button issue is present. Instead, we’re asking, learning, strategizing, and implementing improvements for the long-term.

There are many nuggets in this article. Check it out, and make continuous improvement a planning-oriented part of your long strategy for success – whether you operate in the private or public world.

Want more nuggets? Check out:

Patients Say “Call Me…Definitely”

Improve patient satisfaction by calling the patient after they’ve left. That’s the conclusion of a study referenced in Becker’s Hospital Review. Emergency Department patients noted an average satisfaction rating 8.3% higher if the E.D. physician called or e-mailed the patient after the visit, and the scores were actually higher for the e-mail follow-up!

Many people say that customer service is about the service you provide when the customer is right in front of you, when the transaction is occurring, in that “moment of truth.” But this study shows that you can create your own moments of truth. You can be proactive, reaching out to the customer, and engaging them after the visit or the sale or the encounter.

Remember that customers make their decisions to go back to your business, to call you and place an order, or to renew a contract with your business when they’re at home or work or somewhere other than your business. So by reaching out to the customer, you are impacting their opinion where they make their decision.

Don’t limit your perspective of customer service to focus purely on what to do while the patient’s with you.

Contact the patient after the visit to impact their satisfaction.

Listen to our latest podcast episode of “Stepping Up Service” on The MESH Network at http://themesh.tv/stepping-up-service/

What Community Colleges Get Right About Student Success

Community colleges are rapidly moving in their efforts to foster Student Success. The term is defined as students getting a certificate, going to a 4-year college, etc. There are many great initiatives being undertaken by these institutions to facilitate success as well. In the article WNCC continues efforts to boost student success, the author recognizes Western Nebraska Community College for its initiatives including:

  • “Learning resource center, math and writing centers and its TRIO Program”
  • “Students taking classes online also (having) access to a tutoring resource”
  • Forming “a Student Success Committee that consists of faculty, staff and members of the administration who serve on five sub-committees. Initiatives include: First Year Initiatives-Intrusive Advising, Early Alert System, Wise Choices, Advisor Training and Predictive Modeling.”

This is a great list of programs for all organizations to consider. But I want to focus on two of these points that too many educational organizations miss – an “Early Alert System” and “Predictive Modeling.” While I’m not familiar with WNCC’s programs specifically, what these terms typically mean is identifying students at-risk of not being successful. This risk can be linked to what courses they take (and in what sequence), their educational history, psychosocial factors, socioeconomic factors, academic performance, and other key factors.

What WNCC and other community colleges need to include in these predictive systems is ongoing 1-on-1 research and relationship-building communications with students. It’s one thing to look at historical factors and the risk they project forward and apply those to current students. But it’s even more accurate and beneficial to simply ask current students questions to gauge their comfort, commitment, feeling of success, and expectation for moving forward.

The best system for anticipating student success is one that puts a priority on having a strong Voice of the Student program. Ensure that all the efforts for the student are done with the voice of the student being heard.

Interested in our Education Industry services? Go to: http://cssamerica.com/cssed.htm

How to Sustain High Patient Satisfaction

In the article Hospitals struggle with pay based on patient satisfaction, the article notes how hospitals are undergoing many efforts to improve customer service and the patient experience since a portion of their reimbursement is based on patient satisfaction. There is talk of lattes, valet parking, and noise reduction. Nice tactics and perks, but it’s still a struggle to make a noticeable improvement.

So why the difficulty? As with any business, to succeed in a hospital-wide initiative on a sustained basis, several aspects of the organization need to be consistently addressed:

  • Leadership buys in to the effort, preaches, and walks the talk.
  • The organization dedicates resources to the effort.
  • Management and staff are hired, trained, incented, and held accountable for how well they deliver on the initiative.
  • Processes and organizational structures support the ultimate goal.
  • The organization communicates internally and externally to promote the objectives and successes.
  • The business truly knows how it’s doing – it measures, measures, measures – listening to the voices of the customers and employees.

It’s never easy to get everybody on the same page, going in the same direction. But since that’s necessary to ensure high levels of patient satisfaction, hospitals need a comprehensive, intentional, documented strategy for patient satisfaction success.

Don’t keep pushing tactics and perks to create a customer-focused culture. Address these core components of sustainable success.

Interested in improving your hospital’s patient satisfaction? See more at: http://cssamerica.com/csshealth.htm

What You Must Know to Keep Your Customers

Bad economies make companies truly focus on good customer service and the importance of customer retention. And when businesses try to retain more customers, they often fall prey to the desire to create a new benefit, institute a new loyalty program, or launch a new customer retention effort which is – in reality – just marketing gone bad.

So instead of suggesting you create some costly initiative, let’s start with creating a common understanding of the knowledge you need to have to best keep your customers:

  • Know why they would leave, and address it. This means, what do they expect from the experience? From the quality of the product or service? From your level of customer service?
  • Know who you want to keep most – and why (typically because of profitability or longer-term impact) – and target more of your efforts on these customers. No company has infinite resources with which to use the most personalized and labor/cost-intensive methods of keeping customers. So you have to know with whom you make the personal visit (high cost touch), and with whom you send the personalized e-mail (low cost touch).
  • Know who’s most at-risk of leaving, and create strategies to keep them. Target, target, target. Don’t spend the same time and energy and money keeping everyone, if you know a certain percentage of customers are almost certainly going to stay with you. And how will you know? Simply ask them, and also look at historical data to identify common characteristics of former customers.
  • Know how to become vital to their day-to-day lives or success. If they can’t efficiently get their job done without your software or research, if they can’t get their need met well without your product, if you are the supplier of something that’s imperative to their daily personal or professional lives, you have significant leverage in retention.
  • Know how to make it easy to become your customer…and more difficult to leave. Is the customer’s signup with your organization a piece of cake? Can a first time customer navigate your organization and your processes/policies as easy as a long-term customer? If so, you’re golden. On the back end of the relationship, you don’t want to make it impossible to leave (then you’re dealing with ethical concerns), but if the customer needs to replace what you provide, and that effort or time (in addition to the effort and time and cost of going to your competitor) are high, they may not make the move.

Know what you need to know to keep your customers.

Read our New Book – “Ask Yourself…Am I GREAT at Customer Service?” http://www.amigreatat.com/

Listen to our latest podcast episode of “Stepping Up Service” on The MESH Network at http://themesh.tv/stepping-up-service/

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