By Peg Ayers
Measuring Customer Experience is important, right? We need to know how customers feel about their interactions with us. We can’t improve what we don’t measure. But what are we doing with the data we gather? And is gathering, analyzing and reporting on that data truly improving the customer experience?
I regularly receive surveys from our regional healthcare provider, owner of all local hospitals and many medical offices. They assure me they are hanging on my every word. But I never see improvement in our wait time, which is the concern I score as “very poor” nearly every time. I seldom take the time to fill these surveys out anymore. But at every appointment, I learn something new about potential changes that would truly improve the customer/patient experience, as well as the staff experience. If only those sending out surveys would have conversations with their front-line people.
This week we had a 10:30 am appointment for lab work—just a blood draw, a two-minute interaction. We waited nearly an hour to get in for that two minutes. And this wasn’t first come/first served; it was a longstanding appointment. When we finally got in, I mentioned that having an appointment didn’t seem to mean much in terms of time spent, and the technician responded with an explanation we hear often: “I tell them all the time we need more people!”
But her next comment was Customer Experience gold:
she explained exactly how this issue could be avoided.
Appointments like ours, which are simply routine and are “labs only” must wait behind labs for cancer patients getting chemo that day, because blood work must be done before the chemo can be started. If only, the tech told us, the routine appointments were scheduled in the afternoon, there would be no conflict between the chemo blood draws and the routine ones, and nobody would be kept waiting. That solves our problem; we’ll make future lab appointments in the afternoon. But others will continue to be frustrated, because the tech says her advice on this subject has fallen on deaf ears.
Give them room for open-ended comments. Then read those comments, make changes as appropriate, and let customers know what you’ve changed. Rewrite the next survey email request to include three or four things that are different today because of feedback received from prior surveys. Customers will be more interested in providing feedback if they feel it will lead to actionable outcomes.
The easier a survey is to complete, the more likely someone will take the time. Don’t ask four different questions on the same subject—ask the most important. Calculate these scores daily and post them regularly for staff to see.
The front-line staff know what customers are saying—if you want to know, just ask them. For help on how to do this, please see our related article. Have regular focus groups to get their input on what will bring the scores up and what they’re hearing from customers.
Suppliers have input too, but they’re seldom asked for it. By creating a partnership with your suppliers, you can learn about potential improvements that may improve the customer experience and your own efficiency and effectiveness.
Let the staff know about changes made as a result of their feedback. Just like the customers, they are more likely to continue to make suggestions if they see results. A well-organized suggestion program, in addition to the focus groups, is the best way to ensure you’re hearing from everyone.
When suggestions lead to better Customer Experience scores or efficiencies for the organization, share with the staff and celebrate the achievements. Create fun around the suggestion program and its results.
Measuring Customer Experience is only useful if it leads to actionable steps that improve the customer experience. Make it a team effort between the leadership staff, front-line staff, suppliers and customers, and everyone can reap the rewards.
Please Contact ApexCX for all your customer experience needs.
(Feb 6, 2020)