The Heart Of Service, Your Customer’s Voice

827556_sign Being in a service oriented business I am always looking for ways to improve the quality of service to our customers, which in my case happens to be patients. Today I went to a meeting in which I had the chance to listen to an excellent physician speaker who happens to work for Palmetto GBA (Medicare). It was interesting to hear things from the other side, as we are healthcare providers and they are third-party payers who pay physicians for their services to their beneficiaries.

During this physician’s  lecture he talked about the need to listen to the voice of our customers (VOC) to be able to improve the quality of our service. He told a story of a hospital E.R. (Emergency Room) that was losing patients to a hospital that was 20 minutes further away in a different town.

When the hospital begin researching as to why this was happening they found that patients would rather drive further in order to get better service. When it came down to it at the other hospital the patients were able to see a doctor sooner, their families were kept informed of their condition and they were treated with respect.

These do not seem like hard qualities for a hospital to have, but apparently they were at this particular hospital. The hospital decided that they needed to take a good look at how their E.R. was running and found that out of the first 47 minutes that patients were there (just in the waiting room) only 7 of those minutes had any value, the rest were taken by inefficient systems.

They found out this information by mapping the patient E.R. experience, seeing how long it was actually taking to cycle patients in and out of the E.R. and then looking for the ways they could improve. They were able to improve the quality of service (cutting waiting time down) and ultimately the care they gave to the patients and became a viable E.R. to their community.

This really made me think about our medical practice and how we need to put on our stethoscope and take a good listen to the heart of our business, which is the VOC (voice of our customers), to make sure we are keeping up with their needs because without them we have no pulse.

This practice of listening to the VOC does not just pertain to medical practices.  This could be applied to any type of business the serves people.

Take time to map your customers experience with your business to see if there is something you can do to improve the quality and service you give them.  Your clients will appreciate it and your business will profit by doing it.

Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it. ~Peter Drucker


17 thoughts on “The Heart Of Service, Your Customer’s Voice

  1. Market forces have their benefits. In the UK the NHS woefully underperforms in many of the areas you mention because there will be no loss of custom as a consequence. They are in a perpetual condition of overwhelm. A halfway system needs to be created I think. Valuable post Tina.

    • Wow Stu, that is interesting information. I found this lecture very informative and thought of how you can apply better customer service in all fields made it even more interesting. Smart hospital to want to take the time to figure it out and then execute a plan to succeed.

  2. Great points. I once wore a blog ” Why does a hospital have a waiting room.” people have choices and they will go the extra mile when they don’t get the service they deserve. Thanks for sharing. – Peter

    • Hi Peter, I hear what you are saying and it is true even when it comes to healthcare. As this hospital found out, they could provide better service by applying point of service as soon as the patient arrived at the emergency room. Have a great weekend!

  3. Tina,
    Great post! I love how you are always asking questions so
    you can understand more about what’s important to those around you.

    Thanks for the reminder to check on your customer’s perception.


    • Hi Carol, Thank you for comment. I think we always need to be thinking. One of my mentors, Dr. Jon Hultman taught me that “if it isn’t broke, then break it and figure out how you can make it better” Our customers drive our business and we need to keep one step ahead of them.

    • Hi Mimi, I often hear from people in healthcare businesses that things are not going well and numbers are down. But when I ask what is it that your customers are looking for that they are not getting, they do not have a clue because they fail to ask.

  4. Tina,

    Wow, it’s incredible that there was only 7 minutes of value in the emergency room waiting time of 47 minutes at that hospital. But it sounds like they made a lot of improvement after looking at the issue. That’s an inspiring story that shows why it is good to step back and think about how things can be done better.

  5. Absolutely Greg, I was a great lecture and the story made an impact on me and I am sure the rest of the attendees. Stepping back whether things are going good or bad is necessary and more frequently than less. Enjoy today.

  6. Average is over. Companies need to provide what customers need before the customers know it themselves. You’ve got to “shock” the customer.

    • Hi Steve, so true, and far too many times businesses are so busy just trying to get their work done that this issues gets put on the back burner, which is amazing to me. If you do not have the loyal customers you will soon not have any work to do. Thank you for stopping by and have a great weekend!

  7. Great post. Mapping the customer/patient experience should be the starting point for planning and development. I would go further than experience. I would say that understanding how customers think and define value; and mapping the points of value creation on their path that a company/association can contribute to should how a service organization is structured, prioritizes and does business. Thanks for the E.R example too. Good to be able to refer to it.

    • Thank you Anna for your input. Value is very important in any type of service. If the customer does not feel value in the transaction, then it is a lost customer. If a business can capture what customers feel value is, then they are one step ahead.

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