For the next several weeks we will be using the book titled, “Excellence Wins”, by Horst Schulze as a resource for Thursdays Thinking TIPs.
While having a copy of the book is certainly not needed to enjoy the next several BLOG posts, if you’d like to grab a copy to follow along, feel free to pick it up at Amazon here , or of course at your favorite book store.
Now, let’s review Chapter One: GETTING INSIDE YOUR CUSTOMER’S HEAD.
Shortcuts That Mislead
My first take away? Do not make assumptions about what you think your customers/patients may think about the practice. Mr. Schultze says it this way, ” …assumptions can hinder understanding and even be outright dangerous “. (1)
“I have great relationships with all my patients and I know what my patients think about my practice. If any of my patients were unhappy, they would tell me.”
A dear friend of mine, an orthopaedic surgeon, actually made that comment to me when I asked if he would be willing to deploy M3-Patient Experience into his practice. This was several years ago when we were first getting started and I just knew my friend would jump at the opportunity to gather feedback from his patients, mainly because of his kind and caring personality. It seemed obvious to me that he would want to hear from his patients — but he didn’t! He assumed he knew what his patients thought about the practice. At that time there were 10 orthopaedic surgeons practicing at this particular medical group, one of which was my friend. There was no way my friend could get inside the collective heads of the all the patients, which was a substantially large patient base even back then.
Widening the Pool
Widening the pool is exactly what we do at MedicalGPS. We allow our clients to gather patient experience data from a huge number of customers/patients and then we transform that data into actionable information for our clients. Our desire is for the MedicalGPS team to use our tools, talents, and skills, to the max, in full support your team, so that the patient experience is as good as it can be.
You can only imagine how delighted I was when I read, “…how can you as an organization leader get input from a wide enough pool of individuals for that information to be meaningful? One way to do this without spending a fortune is to pay attention to ongoing surveys of customer/member satisfaction “. (2)
If your practice is proactively collecting patient email addresses as part of the practice’s normal registration process, by using M3-Patient Experience ® , nearly every patient can have the opportunity to provide feedback regarding their office experience. In addition to M3 emailed survey invitations, there are options to supplement the email process with text messages, and in-clinic hand-held devices (depending on your organization’s policy), making it possible to gather feedback from every patient desiring to provide their input.
Because of the proliferation of consumer surveys, in general, throughout our society, it is getting harder and harder to obtain customer/patient feedback, Even so, because of the relationship our clients have with their patients , it is very common for our clients to receive a continuous, daily flow of patient feedback, in real-time. Response rates often hover in the 15% to 20% range, which makes it easy to reach statistically valid and reliable sample sizes, because every patient has an opportunity to share their input.
I love Mr. Schulze’s perspective on benchmarking; “For a while, a big buzzword in business was benchmarking — in other words, seeing how you stand compared to the rest of your particular industry or market segment. But that’s not the point. And it’s not necessarily helpful.” (3)
I could not agree more. I have spent 40 years serving within two service industries; healthcare, and before that, the airline industry (back when flying was fun and even glamorous , but that’s a story for another day ). Both industries use benchmarking to compare customer service performance, and to some degree, understand where there may be opportunity to improve. The airline that I worked for was so large, we spent most of our efforts doing internal benchmarking; meaning, we had enough airports, 500 or more, so it was easy to group airports into subsets based on size, or other operating characteristics, and then examine where service opportunities might exist. There were always best-practice airports that set the standard, and because we understood the nuances of each airport’s operation, we had a high level of confidence that the opportunities were real in the under-performing airports. Many of our clients are large enough that they use similar, internal benchmarking techniques.
In 1994, not too long after getting into healthcare, I was blown away at how much effort and money was spent by healthcare organizations doing external benchmarking. It seemed physician practices were obsessed with wanting to know how they compared to other physician practices. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are very good reasons behind external benchmarking, and I support external benchmarking. As most of you know, the M3 system has built-in analytics that allow for external benchmarking, down to the provider specialty level when needed.
When external benchmarking comparisons create a level of comfort within the organization that says, “we’re not too bad, looks like we’re better than most”, that’s when you know there is too much focus on external comparisons and not enough focus on the internal efforts to improve. When external benchmarking leads to half-hearted efforts to create and sustain a culture of continuous quality improvement — it is at that point that external benchmarking becomes detrimental to the organization.
Again, I completely agree with Mr. Schulze, “A better form of benchmarking is to measure how you’re doing compared to how you were doing a year ago or three years ago. Are you making headway? Do you have a higher percentage of people who are pleased with your service?” (4)
If you would like to see how your practice is going, year over year, just login to M3 and click ” Reporting “ and then click ” Trending Reports “. The Trending Reports are updated nightly. When you pull up your practice’s Top Box performance trends, the percentage of patients providing a Top Box rating for this month is current as of last night at midnight.
Today’s customer/patient wants what THEY want, when THEY want it, delivered the way THEY want it delivered. Over the last few years all of us have been programmed to get what we want, when we want it, at the touch of a button. Like it or not, that’s the high-tech world we now live in. It would appear that the vast majority of us like this high-tech world when we’re ordering something from Amazon or another on-line company. If you’re in the business that we are in — the business of patient care — meeting the demands of today’s customer/patient can be very challenging. That challenge however can be met, we see it with our clients consistently.
As of this writing, the collective MedicalGPS Top Box percentage for the question that asks, ” How likely is it that you would recommend this practice to a friend or colleague”, sets at a very healthy 89.5%. That means 89.5% of 570,099 patients gave a rating of “10” or “9” to the Recommend question.
There are Three Universals, according to Mr. Schulze, which must be in place in order to reach the highest levels of customer satisfaction.
1) Produce a product or service with no defects
2) People want Timeliness
3) The person with whom we are dealing with must be nice (5)
Seems simple enough, which is the reason it works!
Knowing what patients want (courtesy and respect), coupled with providing the best in patient care, covers the Three Universals very well and results in highly satisfied, loyal patients.
In the next Thursday Thinking TIPs we will review, “CUSTOMER SERVICE IS EVERYBODY’S JOB”.
Please let us know if you have comments or questions, and subscribe to our Email Updates , so that you can be assured to receive Thinking Thursdays TIPs.
Jerry L. Stone
MedicalGPS, LLC .
Names: SCHULZE, HORST, 1939 author. | MERRILL, DEAN
Title: Excellence Wins: a no-nonsense guide to becoming the best in the world of compromise / Horst Schulze, with Dean Merrill
Description: Grand Rapids, MI : Zondervan, 
(1) Page 28
(2) Page 29
(3) Page 30
(4) Pages 30, 31
(5) Pages 33 – 39