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Imagine you are a Patient

Imagine you are a Patient

Pathetic State of customer Experience in the healthcare industry is a cause of major concern not only for patients but also for healthcare entrepreneurs.

Among the all service providers, customers of the healthcare industry are the most vulnerable and deserve the finest of customer experience. They are weak and suffering. They need the human empathy the most as a customer.

But our medical professionals are not trained to deal with the customers. They hardly talk with customers. Even if they talk they lack empathy. In his book Service Fanatics, author James Merlino, MD of Cleveland Clinics writes:

A personal investment in empathy and compassion by all caregivers is the foundation of the future for healthcare. 

The problem is service providers are not educated on the definition of customer experience. Doctors think treating the disease is their job. Entire heatlcare set up is focused on the treatment of the diseases. However, patient experience the health care service providers differently. Jamer Merlino writes;

Everything patients and their families see, do and touch is considered by us as the patient experience.

This customer experience thing is going to spread across the industry. Once experienced better by one industry, expectation of customers from all the products and service providers would increase.

The battle for market and market share of the future will be fought on better customer experience. In times of social media this is not an option but a necessary survival tool.

Why Customer Experience is not finding attention it deserves from CXOs?

Perhaps the economic impact of better customer experience is not established distinctly. There are data which suggests better market return for better customer experiences providing companies, there are data which suggests customer are willing to pay more for a better experience and there are data which suggests the cost of acquiring a new customer is far more than retaining an existing customer.

Recent PWC survey data suggest;

In general, they are willing to pay 19% more for a “no wait time” prescription. Affluent baby boomers and Gen Xers with chronic conditions are willing to pay 52% more. Baby boomers with multiple chronic conditions are willing to pay 21% more for home delivered medications.

These and many such surveys suggest the importance of customer experience for every industry. The question is when and how.

Social media and smart phone spread are making customer experience an urgent priority. People are sharing their better and worse experiences. Therefore, it is a perfect business sense to offer a better customer experience.

Advantages are two:

  • A better brand building by customers through social media
  • Manage negative branding by becoming social media alert

However, the healthcare industry is realising this and responding to this new business reality. In one of the surveys of the Chief Customer Officer Council, Chief Customer Officer Study – 2014, they have found that:

Software, hardware and technology industry is leading in the appointment of CCO, but healthcare and insurance industries are just behind these industries and role of the CCO is growing rapidly.

Companies are now appointing Chief Customer Officer (CCO) to improve customer experience.  However, as per the 2013 data there are 408 active CCOs worldwide. Out of these 84% are in the US. Asia pacific region has less than 5% of the total CCOs.

Here lie the opportunities for the healthcare companies operating in this part of the world. They still have an early mover advantage.

Better Customer Experience Steps:

  • Define the experience

Care must be taken while defining the experience as what James Merlino says is critical;

Medicine is not about treating patients. It’s about taking care of people-people who have lives and loved ones, with unique identities, hobbies, passions, successes and failures – with a history. Patients are not objects, numbers, or diseases. Patients are people we encounter in what is frequently the most challenging and difficult time in their lives.

  • Appoint CCO, adequately empowered and responsible for customer experience metrics
  • Know the rational and emotional expectations of customers
  • Map the journey
  • Know the gaps between – present and proposed experience
  • Redesign the process, retrain the people, redefine the priorities and performance metrics
  • Prototype
  • Roll out

Whether its CEO or CFO, there are plenty of data these days available to transform the organisation to make it customer experienced focused. CEO of Sprint, Dan Hesse had said;

I always put customer experience first, then brand and then cash because is a logical sequence.   

Cleveland Clinics is known for superior customer experience. One of the lead surveyors of the clinic had opined;

You have beautiful buildings, high tech equipment and intensely complex patients, but it’s your people who are the greatest asset. They are engaged, passionate and compassionate. Congratulations.

Economic necessity, social media necessity offers no more excuses, its people who experience better experience delivered by people i.e employees.

Healthcare entrepreneurs MUST know this and make this known to health care professionals as they are not trained to be customer experience sensitive. They are only diseases, medicine and surgery specialists.

Ted talk by Fred Lee, ‘Patient Satisfaction or Patient Experience’  rightly compares Disney Experience and Hospital Experience;

Disney:

Meeting the emotional needs of a family to have fun together.

Hospitals:

Meeting the emotional needs of a family going through fear, pain and even tragedy together.

However, if nothing can convince you about the importance of better patient experience this Video from Clevland Clinic will. This is must watch for all healthcare professionals, entrepreneurs and administrative staff.

Better patient experience is not only a business opportunity, but need of the humanity too.

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Sunil Gandhi
Sunil Gandhi

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