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5 Lessons Healthcare Can Learn From Other Industries
In addition to his day job as Director of ENT Clinics, Kirk Hughs orients all new specialty clinic and endoscopy employees to the Exceptional Patient Experience. His goal is to engage new team members about how they can create exceptional experiences for their patients.

Learn From Your Own Experience

The goal of the exceptional patient experience is to create loyalty. I care that patients have a great experience in my clinics, but ultimately I want the patient to choose to come back again and again and again (if they need it). I want them to talk to their family and friends. I want them to recommend us on social media. I want to earn their loyalty.

When I get my paycheck, I consciously choose where I spend. By spending money at the same places again and again, I show loyalty. So what earns our loyalty? Quality? Price? Something special that makes the service better? Answering this question is important, because really seeing great service is the first step in creating it yourself.

Here are the 5 lessons I have learned from other industries.

1. Be Remarkable

Have you ever shopped at Harmon’s Grocery Store? You may have seen their vision statement “Be remarkable. People will be disappointed shopping anywhere else.” Shopping at Harmon’s is remarkable! The stores are clean, well-organized, and personalized. Harmon’s employees are so friendly and helpful, offering assistance before you even ask. They know their products and are happy to teach you. Want to know the best steak for fajitas? Ask a Harmon’s butcher. I’m telling you, it will be the best meat buying experience you ever have.

2. Commit to Quality

You can certainly buy gear cheaper than REI, but why would you want to? REI Associates know products because they use them. And they care about you not only while you’re in the store but long after. I bought a running jacket at REI and wore it frequently. Months later, I was surprised by a letter from REI. There had been some issues with zippers on similar jackets, so they wanted to replace my jacket with a new one. My jacket was working perfectly fine so I kept it. But I was impressed that they cared about me enough to send me a letter before I had a problem. Just one of many times I have felt REI cared about me. It is why I will go back to REI.

3. Incredibly Friendly

I was between clinics one day when I decided to try In-N-Out shortly after they came to Utah. Over the intercom, the person taking my order sounded very happy, while verifying that my order was correct. At the first window, I was greeted by another really happy girl who again verified my order as I paid. She gave me a placemat with their vision statement, which included words like “quality”, “friendly,” “sparkling clean.” As I drove through the drive thru, I could see into the kitchen, and it actually did look sparkling clean. At the final window, another happy worker handed me my order. I drove away, impressed that all of these people really did believe in the vision written on the placemat.

I was so impressed that I wanted my clinic team to have the same experience. We had been discussing patient experience, and I wanted them to try to see it from a new perspective. To prepare them without creating bias, I told them that lunch was on me but they had an assignment: pay attention to the experience. I asked them -- what do you see workers doing? How do you feel as a customer? We debriefed after lunch. My team noticed how clean it felt. They noticed the white uniforms. But the most noticeable quality: the friendliest crew. Even the guy sweeping had a big smile on his face and it felt like a happy and friendly environment. My team said that if people working in fast food could create this kind of feeling, we could do it too.

4. Make It Easy

I walked into Lowes hoping to find tile and supplies to finish my bathroom. I had already walked out of Home Depot about five times, never buying anything because I didn’t know what I needed. Five feet through the door at Lowes, a guy offered to help me find what I needed. I explained both my project and my lack of knowledge. He grabbed a cart and we walked to the tile area. He calculated how much tile, cement, and grout I would need for the space, then loaded up my cart.

He made it so easy. When he asked me what else I needed, I gave him the rest of my list. He walked me around the store like a personal shopper. When the box containing a ceiling fan looked damaged, he climbed into the high shelves to find me a better one. I bought everything. Hours later, after all the hard work, I was still thinking about how easy this guy had made the experience. I tweeted on Twitter “@Lowes Tonight I became a loyal customer b/c of help received from Scott D. in your Layton, UT store. Exceptional service and experience.”

5. Make It Comfortable

When I go to the Cheesecake Factory in City Creek, I am given a buzzer and told to wait within 50 feet of the entrance. 50 feet isn’t even far enough so I can go into City Creek stores. It is horrible if there is a long wait. However at Twigs, a restaurant in Farmington’s Station Park, they take my cell phone number with the promise to text me 10 minutes before my table is ready. I can shop anywhere at Station Park. The wait for a table goes fast when I am not focused on waiting.

"When teaching about the exceptional patient experience, the conversation about loyalty is important. I know that if employees can see great service as a customer, it will be easier for them to create their own exceptional experiences with patients."


Kirk Hughs

Director, Outpatient Services ENT, University of Utah Health

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