Tuesday, April 25, 2017

From the Top Down and the Bottom Up

As I outlined in my previous blog post, Flight Path for Success, the incident that took place on United Flight #3411 and the ensuing response could have been avoided. It would have entailed United putting the customer first, empowering team members to do the right thing and owning its mistakes. This incident also signaled a CEO that was out of touch with his customers.

Regardless of the size of your organization, a connection to one’s customers is critical to the success of any business. When you understand customer behaviors - for instance, what motivates them to engage, what causes them to look for services elsewhere - you will have a greater chance for success and a better handle on how to make a course correction when needed. You also demonstrate to your team that you personally care about the business.

One way to ensure this type of connection is to focus on your organizational structure. You want to keep the management layers between leaders and customers to as few as possible. For example, in most cases at Jupiter Medical Center there are only three-and-half layers between me and the patient. As a leadership team, a (relatively) flat organization allows us to have a real handle on who our patients are as well as what their needs are. We also continually look for opportunities where we can engage directly with them. Whether that is spending time in our clinics or treatment facilities or doing frequent rounds to each floor of the hospital.

Another way to maintain a connection is to provide a space to hear suggestions on new or improved customer service initiatives. Sometimes these are in the form of town halls or small group meetings with my team, but hearing from team members like this on how to continue to provide world-class service to customers is critical. Not only do we discover new and exciting opportunities to engage customers but you empower your team to take ownership of customer relationships.

In addition to listening to your team, you also need to be proactive in listening to the customer first hand. Consistent with this thought, Jupiter Medical Center has a Patient and Family Advisory Council that consists of former patients and their family members who volunteer their time and input to help improve the experience for others. This council ensures the patient’s voice and needs are integrated into hospital committees, task forces and daily decision making. In its second year, the council has grown to 15 members and has made a great impact on the organization.  

For us at Jupiter Medical Center, connection with our customer is simply embedded in our culture. We care for the health and wellness of our community one patient at a time. At the end of the day, this type of culture makes a difference - and our scores don't lie. We continue to rank #1 in overall patient satisfaction in Palm Beach and Martin County for the past 7 years as well as being #1 in likelihood to recommend. This alone outpaces the national and statewide averages but has also allowed us to remain the preferred institution in our community.

But for any organization, the bottom line is that a connection to your customers is critical and it starts from the top down. Think about it: as a leader, understanding the customer is our primary job. If we cannot stay attuned to the needs of the customer, then how can we expect our business to thrive?

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