Over the years, I have seen some creative executive titles – “Director of First Impressions,” “Creator of Opportunities,” “Chief Amazement Officer,” and “Happiness Advocate” spring to mind. But a new title has cropped up on the health and human service market over the past decade: “Chief Experience Officer.” What does this position do? The short answer is, “improve the customer experience.”
But according to the recent Forbes article, Does Your Brand Need a Chief Experience Officer?, there is a lot more behind that simple answer – Steve Olenski writes:
The “Chief Experience Officer,” or CXO, is an increasingly prominent position in businesses today, due to an increasing disconnect customers often feel from the companies that they work with….The defined purpose of the CXO is to improve the customer experience (both internal as well as external), and if you’re finding a lack of engagement from your base, there might be a reason. Does your client experience need tweaking? It may well have a need, and having a CXO in modern business helps ensure that employees and clients feel good about the company they work with…
Over the past few months, our team has written a lot about the importance of the “customer experience” to organizational success. With increased competition from other provider organizations and health plans, more transparency in performance ratings and rankings, and a shift to value-based reimbursements, providing a positive customer experience for both your payers and consumers is paramount. This requires not only understanding who your customers are and what they want, but also aligning your business practices with what they value (see Consumer Sovereignty As Success Strategy and Another Look At Consumer Sovereignty).
So how to do this? Better customer service and a better customer experience. This involves understanding the current customer experience – and developing and managing a plan to improve it. And many health care organizations are finding that to give the customer experience its due, it’s necessary to designate an executive to be responsible for this function – the chief experience officer. As consultant Ingrid C. Lindberg said in, Chief Experience Officers Push Patients To Forefront, “[health plans] put people in charge of costs and they put people in charge of care, but they don’t put anyone in charge of meeting the needs of patients or customers.” Sometimes the act of hiring a CXO can be symbolic in itself – having an executive designated as a CXO sends the message to consumers that their experience is important to the organization (see New Seat in the Hospital C-Suite: The Rise of the Chief Experience Officer). However, contrarians argue that the CXO is merely for show — and the consumer experience should be part of the organization’s entire strategy and the responsibility of all business units.
So if you have a CXO, what is their focus? According to a recent survey of CXOs working in the health care market, CXO Responsibilities & Strategic Priorities: 11 Things To Know, the following are the top five strategic priorities for CXOs:
- Relationship-based culture (including staff and physician awareness, engagement and communication)
- Experience improvement initiatives (including programs focused on access, rounding and physician communication)
- Strategy, leadership, and governance (including alignment and strategy)
- Measurement and analytics (including improving data sources and transparency)
- Patient and family voice (including patient and family engagement and advisory councils)
You may ask, what is the “return” on investing in the CXO position? It is amazingly simple to measure. Customer retention and customer volume can be measured – and the impact of good (or bad) customer experience on those metrics can also be measured. Putting it together creates your “customer experience ROI.” (For more, see Customer Experience Competency #4 – Prove the ROI Connection between Experience and Growth, by Jean Bliss.)
So who has a customer experience officer? I thought it was rare in health and human services, but a quick web search found lots of executives in these new positions:
- Beacon Health System (Lori Turner, Chief Marketing, Innovation & Customer Experience Officer)
- Cleveland Clinic (Adrienne Boissy, M.D., Chief Experience Officer)
- Maxim Healthcare Services, Inc. (Julie Judge, Chief Experience Officer)
- Capella Healthcare (Rita Croom, Senior Vice President & Chief Experience Officer)
- UC San Diego Health System (Thomas Savides, M.D., Chief Experience Officer)
- Johns Hopkins Medicine (Lisa Allen, Chief Patient Experience Officer)
- Adventist Health System ( Pam Guler, Vice President, Patient Experience)
And the list could go on…
Whether your organization has the size or the structure to support a “chief experience officer” position, managing your customer experience is not optional. Great consumer engagement and great customer service are increasingly critical to organizational sustainability. For more on building your organization’s consumer service, check out these resources from the OPEN MINDS Industry Library:
- No Customers Without Customer Service
- CRM As Customer Service Strategy
- How To Win (Or Lose) Online
- 5 Steps To Improve Your Consumer Performance Rankings
- Consumer Focused? Think Mass Customization
- The Business Model Transition To Value-Based Care
- How Can We Deliver A Seamless Primary Care/Behavioral Health Consumer Experience?
- The Key To Success With Integrated Service Delivery? A Seamless Consumer Experience
- Mystery Shopping Strikes A Nerve
- Good Customer Service? Take A Walk In Your Consumers’ Shoes
And make sure to join us at The 2016 OPEN MINDS Strategy & Innovation Institute in New Orleans on June 9 for the session featuring Sharon Hicks, OPEN MINDS Senior Associate, Bringing Patient Engagement To Population Health: Engaging Consumers To Improve Outcomes.