Does your organization take ownership for the entire patient experience or just certain parts of it? On the surface, you may be thinking, “Of course we take ownership for the patient experience,” yet we often find exceptions when we start to peel away the actual experience from one touch point to the next.
In fact, we regularly encounter situations during our assessments where leaders “explain away” poor performance because they outsource certain responsibilities to outside vendors and are, therefore, not responsible. That little detail may inadvertently give the leader permission to wash their hands of any responsibility related to the outsourced activity.
Be careful if you let yourself slip into this type of thinking. The customer doesn’t experience your organization by reviewing contracts, bylaws, and operating procedures to determine who is ultimately responsible for which aspects of the encounter. There are many touch points that a patient has in the course of a clinic visit or hospitalization that you may outsource, but, to the patient, every facet of his encounter is happening under your brand, your business, and your reputation. After all, they are doing business with you. Here are a few disconnects.
One was a grimy, dimly lit parking ramp that would give even Hannibal Lecter the creeps. When we presented mystery shopping photos and remarked that this was the customer’s first impression of the hospital, the COO stopped me mid-sentence and informed me that the ramp function was outsourced to a vendor. Hmm. It clearly had a hospital sign and logo on the edifice. Own it!
Another example was the information desk staffed by three people who made no effort to assist customers walking through the front door. The response from the leaders as we shared our experience? “We can’t do anything about that. They’re volunteers.” Again, I had walked into the front door welcoming me to the hospital. If it’s not your front desk, whose is it? Own it!
From the first call (which could be answered at a call center halfway around the country) to the valet parking, food service, and, finally, the bill (which could be generated from an outside company as well), there are multiple opportunities to outsource parts of the patient experience. But, regardless of the contracts or employment structure, the healthcare organization serving the public must take ownership for each step along the patient experience pathway.
Owning the patient experience may require you to take a closer look at all these relationships and, regardless of the contract or agreement, make sure that every touch point meets your standards for a consistently positive patient experience.
Tags: Accountability, Communication, culture, Customer Experience, Customer Service in Healthcare, first impressions, Medical Mystery Shopping, mystery shopping, Organizational Culture, Patient Experience, Patient Satisfaction, process improvement, Service Standards, transparency