When was the last time you put yourself in your customer’s’ shoes and thought about how they experience your store? Do you think that would change the way you approach your business? Or the way you perceive customer feedback?
At a recent event hosted by the Kansas City chapter of the American Marketing Association, Jeannie Walters, CEO and founder of 360Connext, gave a presentation about customer experience and “creating fewer ruined days.” Walters specializes in customer experience but her presentation focused on the medical field and included a personal account of her and her family being involved in a car accident while on vacation. The presentation focused on health care and patient experiences, but the ideas and processes she discussed can be applied to any customer in any field or industry.
Walters described everything she experienced as a patient during this terrible incident, from the moment of the crash all the way through her and her family’s recovery during the months after the accident. She shared what she could remember during those first hours after the accident, both good and bad, including the doctor who dismissed the pain in her hand that eventually was discovered to have been shattered during the accident.
Understanding that health care providers have a tall order when it comes to patient satisfaction, Walters was quick to point out that many healthcare providers are often under a great deal of stress while treating patients who are usually dealing with heightened emotions too. However, she cited that 41% of U.S. citizens believe that profit trumps patients’ emotions in the healthcare field.
Walters also highlighted the good interactions and what a difference they made during such a traumatic time. One of the positive experiences she said she remembers very vividly was a nurse who came into her hospital room the morning after the accident and told her that it must have been a long night for her but that it was going to be okay and that they were going to take care of her. Another positive interaction was a hospital administrator asking her if there was anything she needed and Walters asked for a cell phone charger. Her phone battery had died and she needed to call her husband, who was back at the hotel with their two sons. She also needed to call family and friends back home because it was going to take a coordinated effort to get the family back home, not to mention everything they would need help with while they recovered.
These were seemingly simple actions taken by the staff but they still stand out among blur of memories Walters had immediately following the accident. This kind of focus on overlooked moments in the customer journey is an important part of Walters’ process in the work she does. She works with clients to evaluate and optimize their true customer experiences while discovering hidden pain points and opportunities to create “moments of delight” for the customer.
In situations that involve heightened emotional states like those in the healthcare field, it’s important to have processes in place for hospital staff to be able to meet all the needs of the patients, not just the immediate medical needs. One method that’s currently being used to create or alter these processes is journey mapping, a tool companies and organizations use to help them see what their customers truly want. Journey mapping shows the real moments of truth and the ways in which customers go about achieving their needs.
Walters explained that GE, one of the leading MRI manufacturers, used journey mapping to understand why so many pediatric patients were being sedated prior to MRIs. They learned that the entire experience was traumatic for the child and worked to change the design of pediatric MRI rooms to help children feel less anxious throughout the procedure. This led to a significant decrease in sedation prior to pediatric MRIs.
Health care providers are viewing customer satisfaction differently due to these types of approaches. Many healthcare facilities are starting to offer empathy training for staff in an effort to make these sometimes difficult situations better for the patient. Most importantly, they are taking multiple approaches to gathering customer feedback. Surveying patients and gathering satisfaction scores is only part of the puzzle. As Walters pointed out, “asking is one thing but observing is another.”