By Sandra Bauman & Mary Aviles
A few months ago we presented our research on What Women REALLY Want From Healthcare at Qual360 in Atlanta. Our discussion included a list of operationalization opportunities, co-created with our study participants. These included suggestions like:
After the presentation, an attendee asked us if we really believed these types of changes would move the needle in healthcare. The answer is ABSOLUTELY YES. We believe that delighting patients or customers in unexpected ways is the key to inspiring positive word of mouth. Social Media Guru Dave Kerpen would say that delight is a means of inspiring customers to tell your story. In fact, consider this story from Dan Dunlop, The Healthcare Marketer, where he recalls the weekly greeting he receives from the “smiling, boisterous woman” that works in the Duke University parking garage:
“How do you think that impacts the patient experience? Imagine people feeling scared and intimidated as they approach this large medical center – the kind of place people go when they are really sick, maybe facing a terminal illness. And think about what it means to them to be greeted with such warmth. I don’t know what they pay that lady at the parking deck, but it is not enough. She is a brand ambassador without equal.”
Customer satisfaction and loyalty are measures we’re often tasked to track and report on. Yet, as Gartner Group suggests, “Net Promoter Score trails the pack in both effectiveness and actionability as a measure of customer experience.” We talk a lot about EASE because it’s a common–often unmet–desire. More recently, we’ve noticed a shift to DELIGHT. The best thing about delight is that it’s achievable, it’s affordable, and it can be easy. As Jay Zaltman points out, it can serve as a highly-effective employee engagement mechanism AND provide critical differentiation. If the brand IS the experience, systematizing a customer delight program seems like a perfect opportunity to use #BigData and insight research to identify opportunities and then train and encourage employees to improve the customer or the patient experience, thus positively improving key measures like compliance and recovery time and fueling word of mouth.
Again, these don’t have to be expensive endeavors. The little things can make a huge difference. In patient experience research we’ve conducted, patients tell us they appreciate doctor’s offices that offer water with lemon; that take good care of their plants; that change out their magazine selection regularly; that rearrange their reception so that patients are greeted with a handshake by someone who comes out from behind their desk. And, it’s not just for healthcare, take Mary’s recent experience with Modify Watches. They threw in a free watch band accompanied by a handwritten note in the package. Notice the name of the department behind this communication. Titling the customer service department “Customer Happiness” is a pretty bold brand promise.
In another non-healthcare example, Pret A Manger has officially transitioned from offering a rewards card-type program to this more employee-driven customer delight model. We love the strategic shift in thinking illustrated in this Facebook post. Creating unexpected delightful experiences is a more direct path to loyalty than a rewards program. This is a move towards EASE, making it easier for customers to feel rewarded AND it allows for a greater frequency of reward, which should allow customers to feel rewarded more often. After all, what’s the point of a rewards program if the customer never gets the benefit (looking at you airlines frequent flyer programs!)?
If you need some help figuring out how to delight your customers, engage your employees or quantify your customer or patient experiences, we can help! Contact us at [email protected] or 201.4446894.