Satisfaction isn’t Loyalty

Posted by Kristin Baird

Healthcare organizations have been measuring patient satisfaction and employee satisfaction for years.  Patients articulate evidence of satisfaction when, during rounds, they tell you everything is fine. Hearing the 4-letter F word (fine) tells leaders that things are satisfactory. But will that level of satisfaction build loyalty? Maybe, but maybe not. Being satisfied means things are okay, but that feels forgettable.

Building engagement, and ultimately loyalty, with both patients and employees, takes more than satisfaction.

Vision or a Fantasy

When I think of some of the best examples for differentiating satisfaction and loyalty, I’m reminded of an organization I worked with a few years ago. Patient satisfaction scores were low; employee turnover was high, and yet, the vision statement was, “To be the provider and employer of choice.” I remember asking if it was their vision or a fantasy. As I recall, several of the senior leaders were offended by my question, but it did inject a bolus of reality, which helped set us on a path to creating loyalty solutions.

Convinced that employee turnover was due to salary and benefits, the leaders made necessary market adjustments. For a few months, they reveled in the glow of their declining turnover. But after one year, they were back to the same turnover level. When we did focus groups as part of their culture assessment, we heard the F word again and again. Things were fine, but we didn’t hear anything from employees that demonstrated a strong belief in the mission, vision, and values. None of the employees knew, or could even paraphrase the mission, vision, or values.

Engage the Staff

During one of the focus groups, a nurse talked about her best friend, who worked for another organization. She talked about how her friend raved about where she worked. She said, “I want that. I want to feel that excited about my job.” This was evidence that the culture wasn’t engaging staff at the most basic level.

During our time with them, we guided the organization in creating a culture that was focused on its  mission, vision, and values. Once they made that shift, they began fostering loyalty and didn’t settle for satisfaction.

Satisfaction is fine. Loyalty means they believe in you so strongly they’d never go anywhere else and will tell their friends and family. Are you building loyalty or settling for satisfaction?

  1. Fine Is a Four-letter Word
  2. Engage the Heart First—Patient Satisfaction Will Follow
  3. There’s no Magic, Just Good Strategy
  4. Patient Satisfaction Scores are a Symptom, Not a Diagnosis
  5. The Law of Gravity Doesn’t Apply to Patient Satisfaction
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