This week, we’ve been talking about four competencies that behavioral health provider organizations need for future sustainability (see Four Essential Organizational Competencies For The Future all members). Yesterday I looked at push/pull marketing for the three customers dominating health and human services – the payer, the referral source, and the consumer (see Best Practice Provider Marketing? Think Push & Pull all members).
Today I want to focus on the flip side of marketing – customer service. The experience that consumers have when they select you and use your services will determine if they keep coming back, recommend you to their friends, and write good reviews about you on their (or other) websites. Using a consumer experience research tool – mystery shopping – can help your organization to understand your customer service competency.
So, imagine a consumer sitting in your waiting room. Is her waiting room time a positive experience? How was she addressed by your staff? Was her appointment at the scheduled time? What would make her recommend your organization to others?
Now imagine that consumer isn’t a client of yours, but a “mystery shopper” who can experience your organization as a consumer would, and then report back their experiences. “Mystery shopping” is a structured set of interactions with your organization – that are scored and evaluated.
The process is simple. First, set your objectives. What is it you want to know about your organization’s customer service? There are four key areas of customer service. First, access issues – can consumers make appointments easily? Are there long waiting periods? Second, staff interactions – from the response to their e-mail message, their interaction with professionals, and the calls they get about billing. Third, the facility issue – comfortable? Clean? Quiet? Private? And, finally, system issues – the consumer-facing processes from initial paperwork to billing.
The second step is a design issue. How do you want to measure these customer service interactions? By telephone, through your web site, in person? And, key to design, a structured set of information that the process will gather that is quantified in a way that you can track it over time.
Finally, there is the “shopping” part. First, writing the scenarios for “faux” consumers to call for appointments, ask for records, appear to tour your facility, make a referral, or whatever is appropriate for your research objectives. And, then evaluating the findings from your consumer experiences.
I’m a big fan of using consumer experience research to make sure an organization is delivering “customer centric” services. For a deeper look, check out my presentation Creating Consumer-Preferred Services, Marketing Directly To Consumers, & Managing The Consumer Experience , or Develop ‘Best in Class’ Customer Service: A Mystery Shopping Guide for Behavioral Health & Social Service Organizations .
Remember the words of Warren Buffet, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
For another free resource, see: Mystery Shopping Strikes A Nerve all members