The Experience Points Blog: Shep Hyken
by John Seeds
Avtex Chief Experience Officer, Kurt Schroeder sat down with Mike Pietig, our Vice President of Healthcare Experience, to discuss our latest Experience Points episode and share their key CX takeaways. In this episode, Kurt and Mike discuss the value of authenticity, navigating third-party relationships, and how community can be an extension of your brand.
[Kurt] I love the idea of the brand personality being an integral part of the experience. I also liked the idea of injecting humor into that brand personality, where it's appropriate. Humor impacts a lot, especially in how we think, how we react and how we evaluate things. Humor releases endorphins, which makes us think a little bit more clearly and it actually helps us think more creatively.
But I think one of the key things here is that it needs to be appropriate and it needs to be authentic. Mike, you lead our healthcare practice but I don't necessarily know if I want a doctor telling me jokes before my knee replacement surgery.
[Mike] Yeah, I think that's a great point. And no doubt that humor is one way that you can make the engagement or the interaction more memorable. But it has to really align with the brand and what the consumer's expectations are of that brand. To use healthcare as an example, there aren’t as many opportunities to infuse humor into your approach, but certainly, you can incorporate tools that make the customer or patient feel more at ease, reduce their anxiety, which will naturally lead to a better experience.
[Kurt] One of the things that was important in that discussion was the idea of being unscripted. And I think that speaks to authenticity. When people call, whether it's telemarketing or you call into a contact center and you can tell they're reading a script, I get turned off a little bit. How does that expose itself in healthcare? What is that combination mean as different healthcare organizations need to differentiate themselves?
[Mike] It's absolutely something that healthcare struggles with. You'll hear the examples of, “Why is it that the company that services my car knows more about me than my own healthcare provider?” And I think that's one of the things that comes to mind.
Healthcare is currently working on how to personalize that experience and I don't mean just by using your name. What I want is that person on the other end of the call to not read from a script, but to know that I have an appointment tomorrow, to know whether I'm due for a flu shot or not, to have all the information available to me that might be in a medical record or in a CRM so that they can deliver a meaningful interaction that will then become memorable. And that then turns into brand loyalty and improved retention. And ultimately, to your point, improves the financials.
[Kurt] And I think the idea of personalization, especially in healthcare is important. And to your point, it's beyond just knowing the name, it's knowing who you are, what your situation is, what your needs might be, and what kind of patient you are, and then how do we personalize the service and the experience around that? So how do you develop a brand personality when it's hard to do things at scale?
[Mike] I've got an example. My primary care physician took the time to text every one of his patients this past summer when we were in lockdown. Now it may be difficult to do this at scale, but it's an example of him texting me. He knew when my next appointment was, he knew it had been canceled or rescheduled due to COVID, and he also told me what was going to be the first available date. It was important to him to get me back in because that's going to ensure that I continue to stay a healthy patient and not let some conditions worsen. And if I distance myself from healthcare, then we've got a bigger problem down the road.
Absolutely there are capabilities that exist to allow our organizations, like providers and payers, to do that at a much larger scale. But again, it's about making sure that those customers remember you and that's really why this is important.
[Kurt] Note to self: never buy a product through Instagram. No, I think this was a great example of how we are now in an economy where third parties are involved in the transaction more and more. Things like this are going to happen, and so PayPal did the right thing, and they provided a great experience. If you think about what he went through and what made it a great experience, it’s pretty simple.
Number one, it was easy for him. Number two, he got the right outcome. And number three, it was a low level of effort for him. I think that, in its entirety, makes up a great experience. He got the outcome he wanted, it was easy for him to do it, and he didn't have to go to great lengths and argue his case. PayPal just stepped up and did it.
Mike, in healthcare, the idea of multiple parties is front and center every time that somebody gets a bill from a hospital for a procedure, right?
[Mike] It is, and I wish we could have an experience that felt more effortless and that minimized the amount of attention and effort you need to put into it. Unfortunately, you've got so many different parties, that many times when a patient goes in for a procedure, they get home and have a bill from the hospital, the insurance company, the radiologist, and at the end of the day, they’re not sure how much is owed and what's covered.
[Kurt] I really liked the quote at the end where it said, "It may not be your fault but it is your problem." I think that's what customers want when they have an issue. They recognize the complexity of all these third parties working together but that shouldn't be their problem. They want to be able to have a single person to call to say, "This is what the issue is, fix it for me."
[Mike] Exactly. I'll give you a quick example, Costco. I love Costco.
[Kurt] Who doesn't love Costco?
[Mike] Exactly. One of the reasons why I love Costco is because they are offering products made by other companies. So I recently bought a thing of apples, and I was in a hurry. Guess what? They looked great from up above but I didn't turn it up to see that some of them are soft and past their date until I got home. I snapped a photo, sent it to them and they returned the money, no questions.
I didn't have to hassle with the orchard, or the shipping company, or the company that's got their label on the apples. Costco took care of it, and that's why I go back.
[Kurt] I think one of the other things is that we live in a world where when we have a problem, we project how hard it's going to be to solve that problem. I know that for me, if I have to write somebody or call somebody, number one I think, "Well, I'm not going to hear from them for a while." Or number two, I'm going to get the runaround.
It's just painful to think about picking up the phone and calling a contact center. I think part of the greatness, if you will, of that experience that the guy had, was that it probably exceeded his expectations because he was already thinking about, how bad is this going to be when you have all these people involved? Just simply exceeding expectations can be pretty easy when the bar isn't all that high.
[Mike] I completely agree. That's also the best time to win a customer over, is when they're going through a period of difficulty or a challenge. If I'm struggling with a return, or in his case he had a payment issue, that was an opportunity for PayPal to hopefully create a lifelong customer, because he had such low expectations based on his interaction with the kayak that now, because they stood behind their brand, they've got probably a customer for life.
[Kurt] Well, that was an interesting one. I really liked the discussion about community and how community can become an extension of the brand. I have a story from a long time ago in my career where we were actually working with Harley Davidson on a replacement of one of their systems, and we were going to recommend that they change the dealer number from four digits to this alphanumeric eight-digit code because of the software.
And the dealer council that we were using to help us, man, did they have a bad reaction to that, and we couldn't figure it out, it's just a dealer number. Until one of the guys literally rolled up his sleeve and showed us the tattoo he has on his arm and he had his dealer number tattooed! When you have that kind of brand loyalty, that kind of community where people are getting your brand tattooed on their biceps, then I think that's the pinnacle of a community experience around your brand.
[Mike] I picked up the same thing about community. And what came across to me is they talked about meeting together offline, and we talk about the need to engage customers today on a variety of channels but how do you meet your customer where they are. For some it's via a mobile app, others are using your website, some still prefer to call into your contact center, but to deliver that exceptional experience, you have to really know how they want to be engaged and meet them where they are today.
[Kurt] I also think there is a little bit of a misnomer that says everyone wants to interact digitally. I wonder if the root cause of that is because sometimes the contact center or the face-to-face experience is so poor. I don't want to go through that experience, I might as well just interact digitally and do it myself because it's not as frustrating. I think having a good balance and making sure you're providing the same level of experience regardless of what channel you go to becomes extremely important, not only in how you communicate but then also in being able to create community.
[Mike] I believe healthcare is partially there. They're certainly active in the community, but they still have a ways to go to close that gap to be actively engaged in ways that are helping ensure that you and I continue to remain healthy. Versus the model today where we go to a hospital or clinic when we're sick, and then we leave.
[Kurt] I liked Jay's line about how, when you have an effective VoC, Voice of Customer program, as well as social listening, that really lends itself towards overall CX excellence. I don't think we can understate how important that is, and I think we also need to make sure that VoC programs are not just capturing the net promoter score and calculating it. NPS at its core is a measure of loyalty which is certainly an emotion, but it doesn't necessarily get to the root cause of what makes a great experience. In healthcare, there a lot of information but that doesn’t always help us understand what the patient experience needs to look like.
[Mike] Yeah, I would agree. In healthcare, we tend to look at the NPS or the post-discharge surveys that are sent out 30 days later, but that's just too long. It's not real-time, and it doesn't allow the healthcare organizations to react like they could when the patient is still in recovery or still inside the hospital.
We’ve done some of our own studies, just to try to better understand that. What you learn is that you can't make a decision about an entire patient population based on one score or one survey. There are characteristics of age groups and other demographic indicators that tell more and that’s important to know in healthcare just like it would be for any other industry trying to understand their customers.