When certain things reach their expiration date, no second-guessing is required. Shelf life has transformed into half-life. Milk is a good example, one that involves several of the senses. For starters, the dairy industry offers a great hint by printing the date right on the label. Smell is another indicator, unfortunately we don’t always trust that first whiff, and we take a sip thinking that it can’t be all that bad. Fortunately, our taste buds never let us down. If the milk has turned, there is a visceral, almost violent desire to spew it forth and then shave your tongue. Finally, if the consistency is such that it can be eaten with a fork, toss that puppy. Bananas turn black. Cheeses and breads sprout beards, speckled with tinctures of blues and greens. Tomatoes leak, oranges deflate, grapes wrinkle, and juice ferments.
On the other hand it’s more difficult to know when non-perishables have outlived their usefulness. Light bulbs burn out, batteries die, and DVDs freeze. The same thing happens in business; technology gets outdated, service providers lose their appeal, patients have other choices, and business processes no longer apply to today’s markets. The difference is that it’s much easier to see when a light bulb burns out than it is to recognize when 10 year-old business processes aren’t cutting it.
Sometimes ideas just wear out, and new ideas aren’t forthcoming. This happens a lot, especially as relates to customers—for purposes of this discussion we use customers to mean patients and physicians. There’s a scientific name for this phenomenon; Innovation Customer Experience Deficiency, ICED. How can you tell if your hospital’s been ICED? It’s fairly simple. If you can pinpoint the year when you last changed how you approached your customers you’ve been ICED. Customer experience management (CEM) should be occurring continually. If it is occurring continually under a design that hasn’t been updated continually something is out of sync. Do you use the same CEM systems you used 5 or 10 years ago? Have you added new processes or services during that period? If so, you’ve been ICED.
It’s sad to watch. Good hospitals wither away to upstart competitors simply because they have no new ideas about how to handle their customers. Reducing average handle time is not an innovation. Decreasing the rate of call abandonment, should not be considered a new idea. Many hospitals have lost the ability to color outside the lines—some never had the ability. It’s shameful. CEOs and other executives can be seen sneaking in to work early so they aren’t seen by their employees—their briefcases are filled with old ideas, some on a floppy disk they picked up at some useless symposium a decade ago. Their customers are making fun of them on YouTube. Even their dog is embarrassed and is thinking of moving in with some other executive, one who isn’t afraid to think.
The symptoms are classic. Unfortunately, if left unchecked, the deficiency can spread throughout the organization. Soon, billing doesn’t care if it has all the required line items. Marketing figures, why care, since our stuff isn’t innovative anyway. The front doors stay locked, because the employees don’t want the customers coming in and teasing them.
Our clients ask us, what can we do? “We’re still working on the same problems I was faced with when I was a CSR,” replied Stan Watson, Healthy Pro’s, vice president of customer care. “We’ve just added another T-1 line,” stated Stan’s boss Nancy Peppermill. “We do that about every six months or so and finally everything starts settling down.”
This is why we created the Baltimore Exposition for the Innovation Customer Experience Deficiency, BE ICED. BE ICED is a two-day exposition. It’s being held the third Monday in October, and it ends the previous Friday, that way, you still have your weekend available. How do you know if this exposition is for you? If you are still trying to fix yesterday’s problem, or you can’t color outside the lines, or find that all of your peers are thinking outside the box while you’re still trapped inside, then you should consider joining us.
BE ICED will teach you to be bold. Day one of the exposition begins with a seminar to introduce the executive to the customer. This can be very intimidating, but we will be with you every step of the way. We will walk through mock scenarios that practice the difficult skills that we feel cause ID, innovation deficiency. Once we work on those skills, we will go live. Each executive who has customer responsibilities will be driven blindfolded to an actual hospital or clinic, whereupon they will meet live customers. Executives will receive points for correctly being able to identify a customer and for interacting with the customer. Bonus points will be awarded if the executive is able to ascertain the customer’s needs and provide the right assistance. Day two will be filled with techniques to teach the executive how to cope with and hopefully eliminate ID. Yes, ID is embarrassing, but we’re here to help.
Listen to the following testimonial. Randy Johnson is the senior vice president of CEM for the medical devices conglomerate, Panache Bed Pans. Here’s what he said after completing two-day session. “We thought we knew all there was to know about how to take care of our customers. And then I realized I had ID. Panache Bed Pans was ICED. Customers would call more than once, expecting us to have answers to their questions. Why did they think we knew anything about bed pans, other than how to make them? We began to get discouraged. We would come in late, leave early, and hide under desks, so we wouldn’t have to answer the phone. Then I heard about ID. I must admit at first I was skeptical. But they placed me in a group with other people who are just as inept as I was when it came to taking care of customers, and that made me feel comfortable. After two days, that feeling that comes with having ID began to go away. Now I know how to be innovative, and I’m starting to cope with just feeling deficient.”
Paul M. Roemer
Chief Imaginist, Healthcare IT Strategy
1475 Luna Drive, Downingtown, PA 19335
+1 (484) 885-6942