After she told me of this story, I reflected on the staggering number of systems, processes, procedures, dashboards, surveys, alerts, analyses, and so on that have taken on 'mission critical' status in our hospitals. Give it a minute, and I'm sure that you too will lose count!
Then, it hit me: how many systems are in place to proactively manage (or even affect) attitudes and behaviors, especially as they relate to the patient experience in a typical hospital?
Sure, everyone has an Orientation program, some do employee opinion/engagement surveys, others do management development work that they hope trickles down to the attitude of their employees, which they hope will affect their behaviors.
No wonder HCAHPS scores barely move...who are we fooling here?
To make this point, consider known-excellent performers in other industries, and see how they proactively manage attitudes and behaviors. Marriott and Four Seasons are widely acknowledged to have the best customer service cultures - both highly successful businesses that differentiate themselves largely on their service levels.
Let's take a look at just a few of their methods:
- Accountability for guest satisfaction is a big deal at both organizations, and is a priority for both the property managers as well as their department heads. This priority-foundation brings energy, creativity, and daily management of every guest-staff transaction in every area of the hotels. Hospitals can integrate this non-system thinking into their HCAHPS plan, by assuring clarity around 'who owns HCAHPS in this unit'.
- Guest satisfaction training and re-training is a vital part of the cultures of each company. Hospitals can integrate this non-system thinking into their HCAHPS plan, by assuring that training on a variety of issues related to improving the patient experience is frequent, understood, and front-and-center in the minds of their employees.
- Progress is celebrated in style. Department-level pizza parties, between-shift cookies/snacks, and other ad hoc celebrations happen whenever progress is noted - because it is so important to their mission. Hospitals can do this too!
- Guest comments are treated as 'gold'. A single non-happy guest can trigger a morning of investigation, corrective problem solving, and service recovery, with involvement from the Duty Manager, or even the General Manager. These businesses 'get' the fragility of repeat business in the service sector, and they actively seek to satisfy every guest before she/he leaves. Hospitals can do this too!