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What Healthcare Can Learn from Retail

Posted by Kristin Baird on March 19th, 2015 • No Comments »

Walk into any Home Depot, Ace Hardware or Pier One store and you will be approached within minutes (or seconds) by someone offering to assist you. And chances are very good that when you tell the person what you are looking for, they will take you to that product or department.

I haven’t personally reviewed any of these companies’ training manuals or policies, but I can tell you what I consistently experience when I enter their stores. They are responsive, helpful, and friendly. Yet, I can wander halls of some hospitals and medical practices looking lost and not one person approaches me or any other customer.

One of the big differences between a shopper’s experience and a hospital visitor’s is their emotional state. Shoppers aren’t often entering the stores while stressed, worried, or otherwise emotionally vulnerable. Our customers are. For this reason we need to be that much more vigilant and responsive. Another major difference is that retail was built around customer service. Without it, they would have no profits. We can’t say the same about the history of medicine.

I get really frustrated when I see healthcare workers (and that means ANYONE working within a healthcare facility) oblivious to patients and visitors in need of assistance. Many of our hospital campuses are tough to navigate. That makes it even more essential that every employee takes ownership of the patient and visitor experience. Every person can play an active role in the customer experience.

Many organizations have added standards on wayfinding and escorting customers to their destinations. But putting expectations into print is very different from putting them into practice. What are you doing to foster more ownership for the patient/visitor experience? Start by walking around, modeling the way and coaching the behaviors you want.

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Baird Consulting


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