When it comes to the customer experience, the answer is often that it’s everyone’s responsibility to deliver great service. True, yet that logic cannot, and should not apply at the strategic level. There needs to be someone at the helm driving the patient experience strategy in order to keep the organization moving toward specific goals and closely aligned with other strategies. Yet most hospitals and health systems still do not have a chief experience officer or even a mid-level manager designated to lead the charge.
Think about what it would be like if we applied similar logic to other key strategic functions of your organization. Let’s imagine that we say, “Fiscal responsibility is everyone’s responsibility,” so we don’t appoint a CFO. Or similarly, “Smooth operations is everyone’s job. Just follow policy and procedure,” and decide, therefore that we don’t need a COO.
I’m not saying every organization absolutely needs a six-figure salaried executive to execute strategy. I am saying that until the patient experience is given the respect it deserves, with a seat at the table, you can’t expect to make much progress. Without someone setting and driving strategy, there’s a real possibility that your patient experience efforts will remain a hodgepodge of disparate tactics that come and go as the flavor of the month.
I feel I can say this with great certainty because I’ve been at this for over 20 years. I’ve seen the evolution from guest services to customer service, to service excellence and now to patient experience. In the early 90’s my effort in this area was met with a condescending response that “smile lessons” are nice but not necessary. After all we’ve got high tech and skilled physicians.
But as CAHPS are taking hold, there is more credence being given to improving the patient experience. If patient experience is to be a core strategy, there needs to be solid leadership in place with a seat at the table. The Beryl Institute has defined core competencies needed for this newly evolving position and has several tools in place to help leaders to define and hone the necessary skills.
Treating every customer as a valued partner is everyone’s job, but setting the strategy and shepherding the execution must happen by design.