Every patient encounter with healthcare organizations is filled with moments of truth. Those moments when he or she is deciding if you are what you say you are. And each of those moments presents an opportunity to build patient trust.
As we compile our mystery shopping reports for clients, it is fascinating to observe and describe just how these trust experiences unfold. I could write volumes on the subject, but for the sake of efficiency, I’ll condense a few observations down to this: Every moment of truth is an opportunity to create a moment of trust. Those moments of trust will happen when everything about that touch point says, “We’ve got this.” In other words, you’ve got to exude confidence that everything is under control and operating smoothly, calmly, and efficiently.
I’ve had so many experiences by phone and in person where I’ve lost trust, bit by bit, by the way the staff handled encounters. One of the most memorable experiences was when I was scheduled for surgery, but no one called to tell me the time of the surgery. The night before I was to be admitted, it took me seven calls, including cold transfers and dropped calls, before I was told to arrive at 5:45 AM. Everything about that experience eroded my trust and angered me, both as a patient and as a professional committed to improving the patient experience.
It was 9 PM before I had the information I needed. By having to chase down information that should have been presented to me, I lost confidence in the whole team. If they couldn’t handle this essential communication with me, could I trust them to cut me open in just a few hours? I was honestly ready to cancel my surgery.
If I could rewind the experience and place it in the hands of caring, conscientious individuals with bulletproof processes, I would have gotten a call the day before the surgery as promised in my pre op packet. The call would be made by a friendly, confident individual who lets me know that they are all prepared for me and ready to take good care of me.
Everything about the patient experience must help build patient trust. Every person with patient contact must understand how to represent the organization in a positive light, even when he or she doesn’t have all the answers. In the example I shared above, my whole impression would have been different if the first person I contacted by phone would have said, “Let me call you right back with that information,” and then own the situation until an answer is found and given to me.
Help every person on your team to understand how every action and every word is an opportunity to build trust. If they’re not building trust, they may be eroding it.