https://www.jefftobe.com Mon, 24 Feb 2020 20:54:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 Customer Experience versus Patient Experience https://www.jefftobe.com/customer-experience-versus-patient-experience/ https://www.jefftobe.com/customer-experience-versus-patient-experience/#comments Fri, 07 Feb 2020 21:25:37 +0000 https://www.jefftobe.com/?p=996 In today’s economy, there’s no question that the consumer is King. With access to an ever-growing digital marketplace, the customer has both more choices, and more information, than ever. For this reason, it should come as no surprise that a majority of companies today rank customer experience as the most exciting opportunity. I have been […]

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In today’s economy, there’s no question that the consumer is King. With access to an ever-growing digital marketplace, the customer has both more choices, and more information, than ever. For this reason, it should come as no surprise that a majority of companies today rank customer experience as the most exciting opportunity.

I have been doing more and more work in the area of patient experience in healthcare and been asked, repeatedly, the difference between customer experience and patient experience.

For healthcare leaders, the conversation is a little bit different. Though many organizations operate much like private businesses in other sectors, a medical professional’s bottom line is not driven by customers—but patients. As such, healthcare leaders must heed the customer experience lessons applicable to businesses from other sectors, while incorporating the key functions that ensure quality patient outcomes.

While there is certainly overlap between customer experience and patient experience, here’s the reality: we don’t shop for healthcare, or surgery, or even our annual checkups the way that we shop on Amazon. So how can healthcare professionals reframe the conversation and transform customer experience into patient experience?

Empower patients to control their outcome

Individuals dealing with a medical issue often feel out of control of their fate. This can be compounded when a doctor simply writes a prescription and sends the patient on their way. Today’s healthcare organizations must provide patients the tools to take back control. With emerging connected technology, this can range from sensors that remind patients to take their medications, to watches that help patients monitor their own biofeedback. By providing these empowering tools, patients can take back control of their own treatment to encourage and facilitate more positive outcomes.

Booked calendars are like busy signals

Customer service remains a core pillar of patient experience. But whereas customer service agents will confound customers with busy signals and call transfers, healthcare organizations have booked calendars and numerous offices to travel back and forth from. Wait times have increased 30 percent in major cities since 2014, and this trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Integration of telehealth services enables organizations to provide greater access to care, cutting times between appointments and wait times on premises, too.

The difference between customer journeys and patient journeys

The customer journey refers to the entire life cycle of a business relationship with a consumer – from the moment the first marketing material reaches them to the time the individual stops using the product or service. But when your patients are dealing with major illnesses, sometimes you need to stay focused on the journey at hand. For some patients—especially those with limited mobility — transportation can be costly, time consuming and inconvenient. The organizations that succeed in delivering a quality patient experience will find ways to take into consideration all the journeys that patients have to take — whether to a doctor’s office or to the grocery store. Better yet will be those that can bring the journey to the patient without them having to leave the house.

There are definitely nuances in comparing customer experience and patient experience, but it all starts by looking at the relationship you have/develop with your customer/patient from THEIR perspective not YOURS. See the world through your “customer’s” eyes and you will see the way your customer buys!

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Get Uncomfortable (and 13 other ways to be more creative)! https://www.jefftobe.com/get-uncomfortable-and-13-other-ways-to-be-more-creative/ https://www.jefftobe.com/get-uncomfortable-and-13-other-ways-to-be-more-creative/#comments Wed, 25 Nov 2015 15:23:23 +0000 http://www.jefftobe.com/?p=839 The imaginative minds at Purple Elephant Promotions created a mascot for their company.  Naturally, it was a purple elephant.  “It’s a symbol of our promise never to forget,” says owner Darrell Marriott, “but more important, it is our brand in the marketplace.  It’s difficult to stay creative and stay good…It’s easy to be a company […]

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The imaginative minds at Purple Elephant Promotions created a mascot for their company.  Naturally, it was a purple elephant.  “It’s a symbol of our promise never to forget,” says owner Darrell Marriott, “but more important, it is our brand in the marketplace.  It’s difficult to stay creative and stay good…It’s easy to be a company that sends out catalogs and takes orders.”

If you are successful in business today, you must already be somewhat creative.  For many, creativity is an under-utilized asset.  Yet, if you weren’t creative, would you be able to generate ideas for clients?  Put together a great proposal?  Keep customers happy and get new business?  Probably not.  But ponder this:  If you were even more creative, would your sales increase?  Almost certainly.

There’s no simple definition of creativity and no guaranteed way to maintain it at consistent, optimum levels.  Researchers, mostly psychologists, claim being creative means being novel and appropriate at the same time.  I have been conducting creativity-in-business workshops for years and I am still not sure that I have the definition.  I have found that the most creative entrepreneurs have 3 things in common:

  • Their willingness to question the norm
  • Their ability to see their business from their clients’ perspective
  • Their adeptness at taking ideas from other professions and adapting them to theirs

Not that difficult. Right?  Wrong!  It is a constant state of awareness and many are not willing or are too involved in the everyday ‘stuff’ to devote the effort required in staying on top of the creative process.  Here are 15 ways to jumpstart your creativity and reinvigorate your business pizzazz.

1.  WRITE OUT THE CHALLENGE OR GOAL IN SIMPLE TERMS

David Hardy of the Institute of Learning at the Bank of Montreal said for him the key is clarity.  “Never work on a creative challenge without first writing down a problem statement in the form of a question.”  If your work involves a team, post the question throughout the office

2.  CLEAR YOUR MIND

You don’t have to chant a mantra in the lotus position to sweep your mind clean enough to let in new ideas.  Simply take a break from you everyday hectic pace.  You will take a break but your gray matter won’t.  It’s akin to downloading your computer and walking away while it processes the information.  “Subconsciously, you’re working on your problem or goal—particularly if you’ve reinforced it,” says David Heavin, senior marketing consultant and owner of Ideas In Action.  “If you have a clear plan, through intellectual osmosis it will seep into your unconscious mind.”

3.  STICK TO YOUR STRENGTHS

Here’s something I consciously decided; I gave up on being organized.  I am just not good at that stuff.  I have people with whom I work that are great at it and give me the freedom to do what I do best.  I know how my mind works best and I know my strengths.

4.  LOOK FOR A JUMPSTART

Most of the time, businesspeople can’t wait for inspiration to strike.  You need ideas now and you are hopelessly stuck.  Try opening a dictionary and randomly selecting a word.  Then try to formulate a solution incorporating the word.  The concept is based on a little known truth—barriers are actually opportunities to get you thinking.  Professional speaker and self-professed creative marketer, Rick Segal of Rick Segal & Associates suggests, “Open up a random book and read the table of contents.  People will spend a lot of time and effort coming up with great chapter titles.  They can be a great source of ideas.”

5.  BRAINSPARK

I think that brain-storming implies a violent act that occurs just when the wind blows in the right direction.  Brain-sparking is the real goal; sparking an idea in yourself or others that will take you to the next level or solve a seemingly unsolvable challenge.  The best brainsparking sessions involve bringing together a team of people with different personalities and thinking processes.  They may not be from within your organization.  Invite some business associates—whose opinion you trust—to lunch and go for it!  Incidentally, it isn’t always going to be a likable person who inspires you.  Segal mentions a woman who worked for him for 17 years.  “I hated her, he says. “I didn’t like working with her.  But she was, without a doubt, one of my best employees who pushed me more than any of the ones I liked..”  She was his adversary, his nemesis.  “I’m going to show her.”  Segel would say to himself, and she felt the same way.  “She’s one of the few people I actually remain in contact with,” he marvels.

6.  TEAR DOWN BARRIERS

Some obstacles to creativity include behavior (yours and others) and physical reality.  Do you work in a dreary space?  Maybe your demanding schedule is so blocked you can’t devote even 15 minutes to creative thinking.  Fear and lack of confidence will kill the creative spirit, and self-criticism will shovel the dirt on top of your fragile new ideas.

Why not set a new rule?  Self-censorship is prohibited.  Never allow one of your ideas to wither away because you think it’s too crazy to say out loud.  There’s an old saying (one with which I have gotten myself in trouble when I try to verbalize it!) “Premature evaluation, prevents conception”!  Be careful using that one.

Just remember that every idea is a good idea and nobody should play the critic at first. Usually it is the weirdest ideas—when modified—that become the great idea in the end.

7.  CREATE A SPACE TO BE CREATIVE

Set up an environment that encourages creative output, a comfortable space within which you feel non-threatened and able to create.  Many of us work in small offices or have a space at home to work.  There’s likely an unused shelf or corner that you can call your “creative space”.  Put two things there:  (1) something that reminds you of when you were a child (2) something that symbolizes what you do for a living.  The former is just a reminder of when you were uninhibited, willing to take risks and unbelievably creative.  The latter is a little more complicated.  Find something that brings a smile to your face.  Recently, one of my clients shared that she had a toy fire hydrant on her desk to remind her of the ‘fires’ she is constantly putting out in the company.

Make some rules for when you go “into” your creative space.  Another client shared that they have relegated a small office to “Fun Room”.  In the office you will find inflatable chairs, a popcorn machine, black light, children’s bookshelves and an easel with paper.  The rules are no shoes nor normal pens and pencils and no interruptions during creative sessions.

8.  QUESTION EVERYTHING

The status quo can block creativity.  If you’re willing to question things, you will find out not what’s been working for other people, but will work for you.  Those who ask the most questions—children—are in touch with their creative side and use their imagination freely. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author and professor at the University of Chicago, says the most creative people live by the maxim, “Die young—as late as possible.”  Creative people are “as curious, engaged and innocent as children.  They keep asking questions, wrestling with interesting problems, looking at the world through an ever-changing lens,” he says.

9.  MINE THE PAST FOR IDEAS

Don’t always blaze your own trail.  What was done in the past should be used as inspiration.  When you hear what has worked for others, don’t discount it.  Take the idea and ask yourself, “How can I apply that to what I am doing in my organization?”

10. GET OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Leaving your comfort zone doesn’t mean abandoning what’s proven to work. It means adopting a new perspective, seeing a new place or looking to another industry for ideas.  As you read this, try something.  Take off your watch and put it on the other arm.  Uncomfortable?  Awkward?  Yes, but if you wear it like this for the rest of the day, you will be reminded of all of those things that we do in our lives (personal and professional) that are strictly habitual; doing them because that’s the way they have always been done in the past.

I suggest to our clients that they look outside of their “4 walls” for ideas.  Look at other professions and industries.  See what they are doing to market themselves and what they are doing to attain and retain customers.

11. KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER

If you are truly offering your products or services in a creative way to your customer and they see you as a creative resource, you have to be asking a lot of questions.  Creativity builds from interaction with your client.  How well do you know them?  How well do you anticipate their needs?  Can you sell them something unexpected if you believe that’s what they need?  Your success is ultimately contingent upon your clients’ successes.  If they succeed, you succeed and you don’t ever have to worry about the competition.

12. START AN IDEA CATALOG

Ever heard of an Idea Can?  Well, neither had I until I met a woman in Dallas years ago who explained that she had given one to all of her salespeople as a holiday gift one year.  The object was to use the can to store ideas that never came to fruition.  “They can go into the can when they’re really at a dead end,” she explained.  Some ideas may seem strange for the project at hand, but may be perfect down the road.

13. USE ‘ISMS’ TO STAY IN PERSPECTIVE

“Isms” are quotes, expressions, aphorisms or parts of songs or poems.  Some believe that daily affirmations (a la Stuart Smalley) of your creativity will foster and bolster it as well.  Quotes can lift your spirits and make you laugh.  What better way  to keep things in perspective and alleviate the burden of stress?  I like to keep a “comics file” in my desk.  When I read a funny comic or find a humorous political cartoon, I clip it out and stick it in my file.  You never know when it will come in handy!

14. HAVE FUN!

What else can I say???

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What Comes After the ‘But’? https://www.jefftobe.com/what-comes-after-the-but/ https://www.jefftobe.com/what-comes-after-the-but/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 14:31:28 +0000 http://www.jefftobe.com/?p=712 Why is Starbucks so successful in selling you a $4.00 cup of coffee when MacDonald’s charges $2.00? Why does a stay at a Ritz Carlton hotel seem much different than at a stay at the Holiday Inn? Most people today would answer that it’s all about ‘customer service’ when, in fact, they would be wrong! […]

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Why is Starbucks so successful in selling you a $4.00 cup of coffee when MacDonald’s charges $2.00?

Why does a stay at a Ritz Carlton hotel seem much different than at a stay at the Holiday Inn?

Most people today would answer that it’s all about ‘customer service’ when, in fact, they would be wrong! Both MacDonald’s and Holiday Inn offer incredible customer service. What Starbuck’s and Ritz Carlton understand is that it is about the customer EXPERIENCE!

I use the word ‘customer’ to make sure that, no matter what you do for a living, you understand that we all have internal and external customers. I would hope that everyone in your organization can define external customer. Internal customer, however, is anybody without whom we can’t do what we do every single day. This may be a paradigm shift for many of you. For example, my FedEx driver is an internal customer. If he doesn’t show up on the days that I need him to pick up my parcels, I am out of business. So, he is a vital part of what I do every day.

So here is the problem on which this blog is focused. Customer “experience” has become the new buzz word in the corporate world and I am not sure that most project management professionals really understand it. ‘Service’ is what you offer your customers—internal and external—everyday as a trained professional; it is personal and it comes from the heart. The nurse who truly cares about her patients. The 6th grade teacher who customizes her lesson plan for each student. The postal delivery person who takes time out of a busy schedule to help an elderly woman take down her Christmas decorations.

I am often asked if customer service is dead. It’s not dead, but it is just not the differentiator it used to be. While your competitors are competing on service, why wouldn’t you look to the next plateau—EXPERIENCE. Customer ‘experience’ is about considering our customers’ experiences from the minute they make contact with our organization until the minute they are done. This involves so many more people than just you.

Those organizations who purposefully examine every customer touch point—those opportunities we have to touch the customer from the parking attendant, to our on-hold message, to accounting, to our website and many more—are those who will excel at the customer experience. By driving the message of the experience through every department, people realize that, no matter their title or contribution—part time or full time—they are part of the customer experience, they start to become more engaged. A 2013 study conducted by the Gallop organization, found that only 50% of Americans were engaged at what they do every day. That means that 50% of Americans come to work for a pay check or for the security. By having everyone consider their specific customer touch point and how they can better that one experience, they automatically become more engaged at what they do and ultimately, the customer is the one who benefits. Imagine a CPA meeting with a client (touch point) and hearing about a problem that’s outside of their realm of expertise. They don’t hesitate to suggest that someone else in the firm could help with that challenge. That CPA has just engaged that client at a whole different level because of taking advantage of one simple touch point.

The experience has to start with you! Because of your influence and because you touch so many different people at so many levels of the organization, you have to step up to the plate as the leader you are. It starts with you getting as many people as you can, walking around asking, “What is the (fill in the name of your organization here) experience?” Then, figure out how to shatter the stereotype of the experience customers EXPECT to have with you, your department or with your organization. Ask yourself, “What small touch point could I focus on this week that will ultimately shatter that stereotype?”

Imagine going to a new restaurant that has been touted as the best in town. You arrive at 7:50 for an 8pm reservation and are seated right on time. You go on to have the best service and possibly the best food you have ever eaten. At one point, the chef comes out to your table and explains how each of your dishes was prepared. The manager checks on you a few times. It is perfect. After dinner, you proceed to go outside, you proffer your parking ticket to the car valet and FIFTY FIVE MINUTES later your car arrives! Isn’t that part of the overall experience? Of course it is. But, let’s take this to the next step. It is now 3 months later and you have told hundreds of people to go to that new restaurant because the food is amazing and the service is outstanding. Then, you finish with one word. BUT!…BUT your car will take forever to get to you after dinner.”

What’s this got to do with YOUR profession? Everything! The minute we get our people asking “What comes after the but?” is the minute we start to become 100% customer-centric. “They are the nicest people to work with BUT they always are late on delivery”. “You should call my lawyer because she is great BUT she charges too much.”. They are amazing care givers to my Mom BUT the place smells terrible. We need to examine every touch point and imagine what the customer might say. To start to make a shift from service to experience, begin by examining those touch points and see the world through THEIR eyes not yours.

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Are You Customer-Focused or…? https://www.jefftobe.com/are-you-customer-focused-or/ https://www.jefftobe.com/are-you-customer-focused-or/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 14:01:13 +0000 http://www.jefftobe.com/?p=706 Some organizations get it! They know how to hire for it, train for it and deliver it. Different companies claim to give a unique customer experience, but in reality, they are grounded in an operations mentality with rules and policies that yield little flexibility, preventing them from being just average or satisfactory. Here are some […]

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Some organizations get it! They know how to hire for it, train for it and deliver it. Different companies claim to give a unique customer experience, but in reality, they are grounded in an operations mentality with rules and policies that yield little flexibility, preventing them from being just average or satisfactory. Here are some observations of the variations between customer-focused companies versus operations-focused companies:

Empowerment: A customer-focused organization empowers employees to make decisions that are for the benefit of the customer. They have guidelines versus rules and take the approach that if it isn’t illegal, immoral, won’t bankrupt the company, and won’t harm the company’s reputation, then consider doing it to take care of the customer. The operations-focused company requires a manager’s approval for anything that is outside of their policies or typical way of doing business.

Hiring: A customer-focused company hires people who fit the culture, which means they have the personality and core-values that align with the company’s vision and mission. Certain jobs may require certain skills, but skill alone won’t get the applicant hired. An operations-focused company will hire for skill, filling a position with technical strengths. The applicant’s personality may or may not fit with the corporate culture.

Training: A customer-focused company spends time and money training for soft skills such as relationship building, listening skills and customer service. The company recognizes that it takes both, technical and soft skills, to break away from being average. The operations-focused company spends most of their training dollars and time on technical skills and product knowledge.

Leadership: The leaders of a customer-focused company set the vision and mission of the culture, and then they lead by example. They don’t hide their failures and they celebrate success. The leaders of an operations-focused company set the vision and mission of the culture, but sometimes will have the “Do as I say, not as I do” approach. Sometimes their behavior is incongruent with what they want to achieve, often leaving the employees confused and less than engaged.

People First: The customer-focused company knows the importance of putting people first – specifically employees. They develop a culture of happy, engaged and fulfilled employees who ultimately deliver a better customer experience. Customers like this and continue to come back. An operations-focused company develops a culture focused on systems, procedures and the bottom line. While this is important to any company’s success, they miss the culture part of the equation.

Customer Experience: The customer-focused company looks at customer experience as a philosophy to be embraced by every employee of the company, recognizing that there are both external and internal customers. The operations-focused company sees customer service as a department.

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Are your people satisfied or engaged? https://www.jefftobe.com/are-your-people-satisfied-or-engaged/ https://www.jefftobe.com/are-your-people-satisfied-or-engaged/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 13:56:04 +0000 http://www.jefftobe.com/?p=703 There are several direct correlations between your employees being engaged and client loyalty. In a 2012 meta-analysis of 263 analysis studies across 192 firms, Gallup found that companies in the top quartile for engaged employees, (compared with the bottom quartile) had twenty two percent higher profitability, ten percent higher customer ratings, twenty eight percent less […]

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There are several direct correlations between your employees being engaged and client loyalty. In a 2012 meta-analysis of 263 analysis studies across 192 firms, Gallup found that companies in the top quartile for engaged employees, (compared with the bottom quartile) had twenty two percent higher profitability, ten percent higher customer ratings, twenty eight percent less theft and forty eight percent fewer safety incidents. Do you think they may have discovered something?!

Measure overall employee engagement

Rewarding employees is only part of keeping employees engaged. Even if you hand out gift cards every quarter, that may not be enough to motivate employees. It’s a good idea to use employee engagement surveys to find out what employees think of their jobs and your organization in general. But in order to get useful responses, you need to ask the right questions. Here are some employee survey examples to get started:

  • Give your employees a survey to get an overall sense of their engagement and employee satisfaction
  • Ask employees to share their perceptions of a co-worker or manager’s behavior with a 360-degree employee evaluation survey
  • Ensure employees that their responses are anonymous so they feel they can give you honest feedback
  • Survey employees regularly to set internal and external employee engagement benchmarks so you can measure progress and set goals

Measure the underlying work conditions

Once you collect general employee feedback, you need to figure out why employees feel (or don’t feel) motivated and engaged. Ask your employees to weigh in on specific workplace issues with human resources surveys that address issues like:

  • Career development
  • Relationships with management
  • Employee benefits
  • Work environment
  • Work-life balance

And, if you do happen to lose an employee or two, make sure they fill out an employee exit survey so you can collect invaluable feedback on what may be causing employees to look elsewhere for employment.

Reward employees for their good work

So what do you do if you find employees aren’t motivated? Show employees you appreciate their hard work–and reward them for their efforts–by incentivizing excellent work. You can achieve this by identifying all-star employees and awarding them publicly with a desirable prize, such as a bonus or a gift card. Whether you establish regular quarterly goals or reward one-off achievements, keep your employees motivated and engaged so they’re proud of (and invested in) your organization. In turn, they’ll treat your customers with the care they deserve. Carlson Wagonlit Travel, a privately held travel management company owned by Carlson Companies that handles both business and leisure clients and operates in 174 countries and territories, with 22,000 employees, understands the power or incentive. “An estimated 98% of their employees receive some portion of their annual compensation based on incentive programs” says a former HR vice president for the company.

Even if your people are skill-based, is there some program you could established to ensure their engagement at what they do every day?

Engaged employees serve customers better

Even though employee engagement is complex and has many factors, get a head start on keeping employees happy by asking them how they feel. When you collect employee feedback that will direct improvements internally, your organization will shine on the outside. Improved employee engagement and customer experience? It’s a win-win.

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