Customer Experience: Hospitality

The DiJulius Group Welcomes Katie Mares, CXC
Due to our rapid growth in Customer Experience consulting, The DiJulius Group (TDG) has added another Customer Experience Consultant, Katie Mares. A former Customer Experience Executive of multiple TDG clients, Katie has been working with the X-Commandments methodology since 2011. She is also an instructor in the CXE Academy.

*The following is written by Katie Mares, CXC

Who is Your Competition?
Our customers have multiple interactions all day long on a daily basis. In fact, businesses are competing with all of the experiences people have from the moment they wake up until the moment they have the privilege to interact with that customer, sell to them, and convince them why they have the best product, food, or service there is to offer. As a result of this, a great deal of businesses put a focus on improving their customer experience. Emphasis is also put on developing the right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure the Return on Investment (ROI) for initiatives like this. One of the most popular KPI that businesses look at is whether or not the customer is likely to recommend them. This particular KPI uncovers those customers that are ‘likely to recommend’, but it also sheds light on those customers who are ‘not likely to recommend’. Studies show that news of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience. This is a pretty compelling stat. Understanding this, it would be in the business’ best interest to focus on perfecting the customer experience to reduce the number of ‘not likely to recommend’.

If this isn’t reason enough to focus on establishing a World Class Customer Experience, here are a few more statistics that might sway some away from the dark side:

  • It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience. Source: “Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner
  • 3 in 5 Americans (59%) would try a new brand or company for a better service experience. Source: American Express Survey, 2011
  • Customer churn is attributed to the poor quality of customer service. (Accenture Maximizing Customer Retention Report)

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The Bottom Line
The list of reasons you should have the customer on the forefront of your mind goes on and on. Let’s try this reason on for size. What if providing a World Class Customer Experience created brand evangelists and generated referrals all while increasing your profits? A study conducted by American Express shows that 7 in 10 Americans say they were willing to spend more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service.

I learned early on in my career that providing a World Class Customer Experience plays a major impact on the bottom line. Because of this, I have spent the majority of my career focusing on people and the experience we provide the customers we interact with. I had the pleasure to work with The DiJulius Group at the beginning of my career (in retail) and together we successfully created and rolled out a World Class Customer Experience program that raised our ‘likely to recommend score’ from 64% to 77% across a fleet of locations yielding 13% organic growth year over year.

Hospitality is Not Just for The Hospitality Industry
As I transitioned out of retail and into the dental field I got to thinking, if retailers, restaurants, and other services put a focus on creating a World Class Customer Experience (and rightfully so), why aren’t we putting the same emphasis on the Patient Experience in a dental practice (or any medical practice for that matter)?

Let’s face it; visiting the dentist is not something many of us look forward to. Ultimately, it is a grudge buy. We have to go to the dentist to maintain our oral health. Don’t get me wrong, caring for your oral health is extremely important, but it is expensive, sometimes painful, and you don’t leave the practice with something tangible that you can hold and show off (like a Kate Spade handbag or the newest Apple gadget). Knowing that most of your patients are already hesitant to book an appointment and have a variety of dentists to choose from, it is important now more than ever to establish a World Class Patient Experience. Remember, you are not only competing with the dentist down the street but with every interaction your patients have before they commit to an appointment or booking treatment.

Here’s the silver lining. If your patients leave your practice feeling cared for by a team that creates wow moments seamlessly throughout their entire visit, they will recommend you to a friend and they are far more likely to say yes to treatment.

When I realized the importance of a Patient’s Experience in the dental practice, I made it my mission to pull from my customer experience knowledge in retail to create a World Class Patient Experience for the dental practices I was working with across the country.

Where Do You Start?
Going from good to great in Customer Service is a major project and can appear to be overwhelming. Where to start? Eat that elephant one bite at a time. I was working with a rather large group of practices spanning across the country. Before I began developing any processes or programs, I needed to better understand what the buy in would be from the field to carry this initiative to fruition. So I surveyed these practices and asked the following question: “What is the one area in your practice you wish you and your team had more training on?” The options given were as follows:

A. Clinical Knowledge
B. Treatment Coordinating
C. Administration Processes
D. Patient Experience
E. Leadership

An overwhelming 87% responded the need for more training on providing a better Patient Experience! We had buy in! Having teams committed to providing a World Class Patient Experience is half the battle. Now I needed to better understand what a World Class Patient Experience looked like in a dental practice. My advice, start off small. Buy in is critical, top down and bottom up. Without this, synthesizing the Patient Experience is next to impossible.

Observe: Understand the Needs of the Customer Through the Customer’s Eyes
With countless hours of observation in different demographics, I came to the conclusion that:

  1. There are seven stages in the Patient Experience Cycle, each as equally important as the next.
  2. The team has to work together seamlessly to ensure that the patient moves effortlessly through each stage in the experience; they all play an important role.
  3. If one team member drops the ball and another team member doesn’t step in to help recover from the situation, then the patient’s perception of their experience is easily tarnished.
  4. And fourth, more than in any retail or service setting, the ‘Secret Service’ component of the customer experience is most critical to the Patient Experience. Why? Because the patient wants to feel like the team, the hygienist and the doctor are interested in them as an individual and that all the Oral Health Education and Treatment Plans presented are tailored to them.

Remember, patients are people and not a set of teeth. Someone once told me “treat others the way they need to be treated.” Ultimately, we need to understand what they desire from their time with you in the practice in order to truly make an impact on the Patient Experience.

After a year of development and implementation, the impact on the KPIs set out were better than expected. First, patient attrition was reduced by 20%, internal referrals increased by 27%, and treatment acceptance doubled. Second, the greatest impact this journey had was that teams started to work together! They were more engaged and felt great about coming to work and doing their part in providing a World Class Patient/Customer Experience.

The impact of establishing a World Class Customer Experience?

  • Increased revenue
  • Increased productivity
  • Increased team engagement
  • BRAND LOYALITY- from your team and your customers/patients!

WIN…WIN…WIN!!

An industry Revolution

Don’t trust your Customer
Listening to your customers is a good practice for understanding what your business is currently doing right and wrong. However, the customer is the worst resource to determine your Customer Experience strategy. Revolutionary companies, the ones that totally disrupted and transformed their industries, did not use focus groups. It is hard to design by focus groups because most of the time, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.
Customers didn’t ask for an iPhone, Zappos, or Uber, but today they can’t live without it.

“The only way to come up with something new—something world changing—is to think outside of the constraints everyone else has. You have to think outside of the artificial limits everyone else has already set.” -Steve Jobs

*Only 3 spots left for the 2017 CXE Academy Class contact claudia@thedijuliusgroup.com

Uber is Systemized Hitchhiking
Think about this. 10 years ago, if someone would have asked what you would like in a cab experience, no one would have responded, “I would like to be able to stand on any street corner, at any time, and within minutes some stranger in an unmarked car will pick me up.” Watch this 75 second video on how Uber is systemized hitchhiking.

About The Author

John DiJulius

John R. DiJulius is a best-selling author, consultant, keynote speaker and President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices.

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