When the Patient Experience Doesn’t Match the Ad

Posted by Kristin Baird on April 30th, 2014 • No Comments »

Have you ever ordered from a menu with colorful photos of mouth-watering foods only to receive a much less appetizing version of the picture? My guess is that most of us have. I’ve often thought that they should post a disclaimer similar to the warning on your car’s side mirrors. It would say, “Actual sandwiches are less appealing than pictured.”

Delivering on your promises is the foundation of any trusting relationship. When you’re the customer, you want, no, you expect, what is promised. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that the actual experience is the one on the billboard. If you promise efficient, compassionate, and personalized care, that is what the consumer should expect.

I was recently visiting an organization that I knew was in the first percentile for patient satisfaction and it showed in every touch point I had. Yet they had ads and billboards throughout the community promising high quality and personalized care. Great ads by the way. They might have enticed me to try the services if I lived in the community.

An ad campaign is a very expensive endeavor that can reap huge rewards in new business. But if the new customers come into the organization expecting the warm, personalized experience shown in the commercial only to be met with indifferent staff, long waits without explanation, and providers who don’t make eye contact, they’ll feel like the ads were empty promises. You might see high volume of new patients (which take more time) but not an increased volume of established clients.

Having a lofty vision statement about where you want the organization to be in the future is a great thing to have in your business plan but then the strategy and operations must align BEFORE you promise the vision to the world. That requires putting conscious effort into ensuring that the processes and systems, as well as the staff behaviors, are aligned to deliver on the promise. Start with the vision and drill down to look at the current reality, then take action to close the gaps between that reality and the vision.

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Baird Consulting


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