This week's guest post is by Jody Ruppert, the CEO of OSI Physical Therapy. Jody has a great point of view on how focusing on customer experience can help an organization grow into a successful business. Thank you so much, Jody!
Over the past few years we have focused on building our digital marketing campaign to gain new customers, specifically targeting self-referral customers. While our marketing efforts were largely successful and OSI Physical Therapy was able to grow, we definitely experienced some growing pains in the process.
We have built a successful business over the past 36 years thanks to three core factors: acknowledging and responding quickly to changing times, encouraging the professional development of our staff, and having a culture that s wholly focused around relationship building. We believe all three factors are at the core of what keeps us going and growing.
To be honest with you, the true gift and blessing was hiring the right people to be a part of our team. With the right people on our team, the art of customer experience comes naturally. So, what do I mean by the art of customer experience? It’s all relational.
The Art of Customer Experience
Being a relational organization is key. It is the simple interactions we have with our customers every single moment in the customer life cycle. It’s the warm hello and goodbye, the smile on every staff member’s face, and the caring atmosphere not only towards our customers, but between all staff members.
The art is the personal flare each and every employee brings to customer experience.
It comes naturally. It’s not fake, forced, or awkward. This is why having the right staff onboard is so important.
I believe that each and every staff member needs to have a high EQ (emotional intelligence quotient). Reading people and situations is key to understanding how to adjust to individual needs. We mentor our staff to provide excellent customer service, and it starts by going above and beyond what the customer needs.
We want to know what the customer needs before they do. Think of how many times you have been a customer or patient, and have received great service. It blows your mind when someone thinks of absolutely everything you need before you even know it!
It all sounds simple and straightforward right? If so, why do so many health care providers (yes, unfortunately PTs included) struggle with achieving excellence in customer experience? For years I struggled with defining excellent customer service. It seems like every staff person felt he/she exceeded our customers’ expectations-- but if that was the case, why did we have customer complaints?
The Science of Customer Experience
See, what I learned through this journey is that customer experience is an art and a science. The art is in the “soft skills,” and the science is in the analytics and data. All too often we assume our employees know what customer experience is AND that our systems are running and operating smoothly.
The science is the hardcore data - the information that helps you understand what is working and what is not working. The science helps you make informed decisions for your organization in order to improve your customer's experience.
For years we offered our customers a survey which we created on our own. We had no data analysis backing the questions we asked; instead we asked the things we that were important to us.
I am ashamed to admit up until a few months ago we were using a paper form that we manually tabulated to get the results. This means by the time we received the customer feedback it could be up to weeks later. Weeks. Talk about lack of responsiveness, which is one key indicator to resolving issues and turning a “detractor” of your organization into a “promoter,” or as some would define-- a loyal customer.
So, when I mentioned growing pains earlier, this is what I meant. I realized with all of the changes we were making to ensure our marketing efforts were working, we would also have to take a serious look at our systems-- the science behind the customer experience lifecycle to convert potential customers into loyal, raving fans our business.
The Data Behind Customer Experience
I knew I wanted an updated and automated system for receiving customer feedback, but I was also looking for a customer experience survey that had some meat behind it, one that was highly researched and validated.
Using this data will be critical for our organization in the future. Not only to help us improve our organization, but also to use for marketing and payer negotiations.
Coupling functional outcomes and customer experience data together is powerful information that will help your organization grow.
Last fall at the APTA’s Private Practice Section’s Conference, I was introduced to Ryan Klepps and Scott Hebert, two of the co-founders of Strive Labs. I quickly became interested in what they had to say and had to offer. I wasn’t interested purely because I felt that they had a powerful tool for my business, but I also felt out of the gate that their organization was living out what they believed in-- exceptional customer experience.
Now, with use of StriveHub, I am finding the science behind customer experience is much easier to manage. I gather data quickly and effectively, share it with staff, and have frequent discussions about how to improve our systems. Through this experience, I have found issues we would have never caught in the past, simply because we weren’t asking the right questions (and because we weren’t listening to our customers).
Now, we’re not only listening, but we are responsive and able to resolve issues immediately. We have turned detractors into promoters of our organization. We use the data to respond to complaints quickly. We follow-up and follow-through. Not only are we listening and making changes, but we have a better understanding of what issues our customers are facing.
We tag trends in our customer’s qualitative feedback so we can see what areas need to be improved upon in a glance. For example, we were receiving feedback that some of our patients didn’t like being treated by students. We would have never caught this before. Now we can focus in on this area, make some system changes, and continue monitoring the feedback to see if it is working.
Another example is that we can hold our staff accountable to the scores they receive. Clinicians are accountable for their own score, assistants and support staff are held accountable to clinic scores, and managers are also held accountable to their team scores. Through training and responsive feedback, our team has done a tremendous job with resolving issues and making great strides into being the best in the business. Being nimble and responsive to data trending in your organization is critical for long-term success.
For more information about our customer experience journey, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, Jody!