Are You A Consumerism Consultant? No, I’m Batman

A few members of my high school graduating class were exchanging messages on Facebook about an upcoming reunion. I was making small talk with one of the women, someone of whom I did not remember from high school, and so I asked her what she did.

“I’m a psychic,” she replied, as though being in touch with those in the great beyond was the most natural thing in the world. “Are you a physic?”
Not missing a beat I replied, “No, I’m Batman. But with you being a psychic and all, you probably already knew that. Do you know the date of the reunion?” She didn’t. As best I could tell via my testing of her psychic powers, she was now zero for two. I decided not to ask her if she knew whether I was going to attend the reunion.

Customer experience is never as difficult as those in charge of managing it make it out to be. One does not have to be a psychic to understand what customers want. All they have to do is ask. But they don’t do that, do they?

Healthcare’s number one customer experience tool are its call centers. And why not? People call. Lot’s of them. And so, it would be helpful to build a big room, buy a bunch of phones, and hire a bunch of people to answer those calls. Check the box, mark it complete.

After all, the statistics support the fact that with that many people calling, that must be their preferred method of access. And if it is their preferred method of access, it must also be their preferred method of engagement. Otherwise they would not be calling.

It is difficult to convince a health system executive whose system receives 200,000 calls a month that the high use of the call center does not mean that his or her health system is meeting its patients and customers where they want to be met. Perhaps 200,000 people are calling because they have no other option.

Digital consumerism is the other option. It is the option that can reduce the number of calls per month to 100,000. It is the option that will acquire patients, retain patients, and manage their health.

There is something called the Sharpshooter’s Fallacy. If a person with no shooting experience fires 100 shots at the side of the barn, chances are that those shots are fairly widespread. The only information that can be gleaned from the shots is that the shooter had no skills. However, once the shooting has finished, if someone were to paint a large target around the largest cluster of those 100 shots it would be possible to infer, incorrectly, that the shooter was not a novice. That is the fallacy one can create by looking at data the wrong way.

Healthcare’s customer experience fallacy is that a call center is a critical component of their success. 200,000 people call, ergo, they must want to call.

Wrong.

Half of the people who call call for one simple reason. Those 100,000 people have already tried to have their needs met online. The only reason they are calling is because the health system was too quick to paint a target around all of those calls and erroneously concluded that they were solving the problem.

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