Healthcare: Why Customer Experience No Longer Matters

A weed is a plant out of place. Put one in the middle of a putting green and you will spot it immediately. The best place is to hide a weed is with all of the other weeds; if it is there, you will never notice it.

Consumers are a lot like weeds. Put one in a hospital, and they stick out like a sore thumb among the patients. The best place to hide a consumer is with all of the other consumers. If they hide online, or on the phone, they become invisible.

And when you think of consumers, you think of customers. And when you think of customers, you think of customer experience. And when you think of customer experience, you think of your own experience as a customer. And how good is that experience? It is awful. Even your best experience is average, and you had to elevate an average experience in your own mind just to keep yourself from jumping off of a bridge.

Here is the headline. Quit worrying about customer experience; it no longer matters. It does not matter to the people who run businesses. It no longer matters to customers.

Have you lost your mind, Paul?   No, I have simply come to my senses.

None of us can name a single firm that as evolved from delivering a mediocre experience to delivering a remarkable one. It does not matter why that is true, it just is.

The interesting part of this discussion to me is the statement, “It no longer maters to customers.” That almost sounds antithetical—I can’t believe I spelled that correctly in one attempt. Of course customer experience matters to customers; why wouldn’t it?

It no longer matters because customers, you and I, created a workaround. We changed the conversation by eliminating the conversation. According to a Harvard Business Review article, the only reason 50% of us ever call a company is because there is no alternative to calling the company.

Not only are customers choosing to shop online, they are shopping online at places designed specifically to meet the unique desires of people who want to shop online. While no man is an island, we prefer to interact with companies as though we all lived on an island.

Case in point. Nordstrom’s. Their trademark has always been to provide the best customer experience. And that worked great for them as long as customers based their decision about where to shop based on customer experience. But now, Nordstrom’s is closing stores. Not only have Nordstrom shoppers moved away from buying in Nordstrom’s stores, they have moved away from buying from Nordstrom.

Then are the large numbers of customers who decided where to shop based solely on price. Those customers were willing to put up with terrible experiences to save a dollar. Then they asked, is there a way to get lowest price and eliminate the customer experience?

If we list all of the components that create a bad customer experience, the number one item on everybody’s list would be people. Of course there are the hassles with parking and travel time and lines and inconvenient hours. But what if a customer could eliminate all of those hassles?

They would. And they have. For goods and services. I cannot remember the last time I was in a mall, or went to the bank or to a post office.

The only things I have to show up in person to buy are gas and groceries. Ninety percent of those purchases do not require me to interact with anyone, and they do not require me to make those purchases during a fixed time period.

I work hard to ensure I do not have to work hard to do business with anyone. I do not buy stamps. I do not make a bank deposit. I buy what I want, from whom I want, when I want, and by using whatever device I want to use.

There is only one remaining industry that still requires me to conduct my business when they want me to do it and to do it on the device they want me to use. Healthcare. 8 A.M. to 6 P.M.; Monday through Friday; using a phone.

Entire industries have been taken apart and reinvented by customers who demand an easier way to do business with them. Want to buy anything in the world without getting out of your pajamas? Amazon. Want to watch any television show or movie without every having to rewind or drop of the tape? Netflix.

What Netflix did that is really cool is that it reinvented two industries. First, it reinvented DVD rentals and allowed people to rent movies by mail. And what did Netflix reinvent next? Netflix reinvented Netflix by eliminating the need to mail DVDs. Any how did they do that? They eliminated DVDs.

Amazon is not in the retail business. Netflix is not in the movie rental business. They designed their entire business model to be in the connected with people business.

Entire industry verticals are about to be eliminated, at least with regard to how people interact with those verticals. A sector like home decorating could collapse into a single company like Houzz. All of the products and services all under one roof. But without the roof.

And Bitcoin. ‘Nuf said.

Where are twenty percent of all online articles accessed and read? From Facebook. Facebook is now the world’s largest content distribution channel.

The differences between a social-media savvy Nordstrom business model, and Amazon’s “We don’t give a darn about social media strategy” are night and day. In my opinion, having customers like your organization on Facebook, or having someone Tweet about your organization is nothing more than a waste of good 1’s and 0’s.

Boston Children’s Hospital has more than 500,000 likes on their Facebook page. That is good news only if you are the employee whose compensation is based on having a really high number of likes.

People would have you believe that the most important current business initiative is the Internet of Things, the IoT. The big deal about the IoT is that it connects physical devices. So does duct tape. The big deal is not connecting devices to devices. It is connecting people to organizations in a meaningful way. In a way that lets people do what they want when they want. The People of Things (POT)—though not the same POT creating millionaires in Colorado. The Connected with People Business. Amazon. Netflix.

Today the expression, “I’ve got a guy for that,” has been replaced by, “I’ve got an app for that.”

Except for healthcare.

One thought on “Healthcare: Why Customer Experience No Longer Matters

  1. I understand “Quit worrying about customer experience; it no longer matters.” for customers calling, trying to call, or not having to call companies.

    Except . . . .

    My wife recently had an MRI and had been waiting for the doctor to call her re the results.

    A couple of weeks went by and she phoned only to be told that “the doctor no longer takes phone calls but you can email to info@____”.

    Who relates to the idea of doing this in a clinic with 20 physicians and 15 office staff?

    She finally took the results to another clinic where a very good interpretation of the results was given on the spot.

    Outcome : bad experience, new healthcare provider.

    And, I suppose the previous provider does know or care that they have lost an account.


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