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By Corinne Kuypers-Denlinger

Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Amazon, Jeff Bezos famously said, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Warren Buffet, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway cautioned, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and about five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Rick Crump, founder and CEO of KineticXperience, drove both those points home during his presentation “Advice From An Industry Expert: Introducing Customer Experience To A Clinical Setting: The KineticXperience” at the 2019 OPEN MINDS Technology and Innovation Institute in Philadelphia during which he encouraged health and human service executives to reassess consumer touchpoints to ensure good customer service.

What do brand and building a reputation have to do with health care provider organizations? Everything, according to Mr. Crump. His perspective is that individuals consume health care services, and—for the most part— have choices, which makes them customers (see The Age Of Priceline Health Care). In this era of patient-centered care and the “consumerization” of health care delivery —think retail clinics— consumers are starting to demand a different type of treatment. They are expecting to be treated like valued customers by health care provider organizations and their clinical professionals – or they’ll go elsewhere and leave a bad review on their way out the door. For more on that marketing perspective, see our article, The ‘M’ Word In Health & Human Services Strategy—Why Marketing Should Be Part Of the Everyday Conversation.

How you turn an episode of care into a positive customer experience that results in recommendations was the focus for Mr. Crump’s session. “The customer experience is a byproduct of your service, and it is the driver of consumer satisfaction,” says Mr. Crump. “That experience is the single most important influence over how consumers perceive your brand.” That experience will be reflected in satisfaction surveys as well as reviews that are increasingly searchable online and consumers do go online to “shop” for providers, which makes your investment in service increasingly important (see Making Sure Consumers & Referral Sources Can Find You Online).

Driving Customer Satisfaction Through Touchpoints
To have a “best practice model” for customer experience, assess how your team provides service at every step in a consumer’s journey to identify areas for improvement (see 7 Steps To Delivering ‘Breakthrough’ Consumer Experiences). For example, consider the ease with which they access care, how they are greeted at the front desk, how service providers interact with them as they receive services, the conclusion of an encounter, and how follow-up is handled. These touchpoints, as Mr. Crump called them, provide opportunities or “moments of truth” that can show consumers how a health care provider organization’s staff and care team members understand their situation and are prepared to address questions and concerns. By assessing these touchpoints and fixing areas of vulnerability, you ensure that consumers have positive experiences while receiving care, which leads to loyal, satisfied consumers, who will advocate on your organization’s behalf (e.g., refer business), which leads to business growth (see Do These 6 Things Online To Ensure Consumers Find You).

Mr. Crump suggests a quick assessment of the tools your team uses for intake, to schedule appointments, and communicate with consumers to get the process rolling. Those tools and processes provide a good indication of how consumers see your investments in their care (see Do It Now!). For example, does your organization use state-of-the art technology or do paper charts (or the technological equivalent) line your walls? (see Consumer Experience Is Driving Tech Investments). In other words, provider organizations should keep pace with the technology curve so consumer experience is effective—a minimum requirement, easy—harder to achieve but more likely to satisfy consumers, and enjoyable—certain to result in high satisfaction that leads to referrals (see Using Technology To Personalize Consumer Care & Expand Access). It’s an expensive proposition, but, as Mr. Crump says, today’s innovation is tomorrow’s table stakes.

Improving Your Brand
Provider organization executives should assess where they are, where they need to be to acquire new consumers, and how they’ll get current consumers to act as ambassadors in the community (see As Online Ratings Grow, Your Online Reputation Matters More).

Ask where the biggest service gaps are and strive to close them. Questions to consider: What do we need to focus on? What level of performance will it take, and what level of performance would most benefit the organization right now? (see Success With VBR: What Provider Organization Execs Should Consider). To answer those questions, take a hard look at your performance and ask your consumers what they’d like to see changed to improve customer experience.

For more guidance on turning your organization’s health care delivery encounters into positive customer experiences check out these resources in the OPEN MINDS Circle Library:

  1. The Age Of Priceline Health Care
  2. Do These 6 Things Online TO Ensure Consumers Find You
  3. 7 Steps To Delivering ‘Breakthrough’ Consumer Experiences’
  4. Making Sure Consumers & Referral Sources Can Find You Online
  5. Success With VBR: What Provider Organization Execs Should Consider
  6. Consumer Experience Is Driving Tech Investments
  7. Using Technology To Personalize Consumer Care & Expand Access
  8. Do It Now!
  9. As Online Ratings Grow, Your Online Reputation Matters More
  10. The ‘M’ Word In Health & Human Services Strategy—Why Marketing Should Be Part Of the Everyday Conversation

And for even more, don’t miss the “How To Develop A Successful Marketing Plan: The OPEN MINDS Seminar On Marketing Strategy” September 14, 2020 with OPEN MINDS Senior Associates Tim Snyder and Rob Hickernell at The 2020 OPEN MINDS Executive Leadership Retreat.

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