Return on Behavior Magazine
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Customer Experience

May 21st, 2010

The Gravity of Customer Experience Enhancement

Speaker and organizational consultant Joesph Michelli shares with us how important customer loyalty is to a business.

My first job in organizational development was in healthcare. More than two decades later (I can’t possibly be that old), I appear to have come full-circle as I do a great deal of consulting and training on elevating the patient-experience. This work is largely the result of my involvement with UCLA Health Systems and an upcoming book that I’ve written about their amazing journey to increase patient-centric care.

As I work in healthcare environments, I hear a number of arguments that suggest the patient experience is less important than customer experiences are in non-healthcare settings. John Goodman, BS, MBA vice chairman and Dianne Ward, BS, MA senior account manager for TARP Worldwide, writing in Patient Safety and Quality Healthcare explain the distinctions commonly cited between healthcare and non-healthcare sectors:

“Most industries have readily accepted that improved customer service will lead to increased customer loyalty, increased revenue, and an enhanced bottom line. However, the healthcare industry has lagged in accepting this concept for several reasons:
Customers are not loyal in the traditional sense because they usually wish to avoid using the healthcare system, except when necessary, and most executives believe they go to the health facility to which their physician sends them.
Most customers are insulated from price due to health insurance, and often fail to care about cost, only wanting the best, newest procedures.
Clinical care is often viewed by physicians as completely separate from traditional customer or administrative service (which is viewed as the admissions, billing, and “hotel” aspects of a medical encounter).
Clinicians believe great medicine will gain forgiveness for poor service (reinforced by television shows such as House).”

Goodman and Ward go on to disapprove all of these alleged differences by analyzing TARP Worldwide’s research regarding healthcare delivery. Most notable among these findings are conclusions that the patient experience delivered by physicians is as important as the experience offered by other staff when it comes to determining patient loyalty. Word of mouth reports of patients about their healthcare experiences has as much impact on potential patients as it does on physicians who make the referrals. In fact, TARP Worldwide research shows that referring physicians were greatly influenced by the reports of their patients regarding the way they were treated at referral facilities. In essence, referring physicians had more patient loyalty than loyalty on behalf of physicians to whom they make referrals.

Hopefully, I have gained a little wisdom along with all the frequent flyer miles I have racked up since I started working in healthcare. Over the years, I have come to appreciate that every business sector has different customer experience challenges, and each individual company has it’s own unique needs – so no one is exempt from considering the experience of customers.

In fact recent studies in healthcare suggest, as is the case with businesses in non-healthcare sectors, more than 40 percent of consumers already research healthcare services online and 60% report using the information they gain from that research to make a decision on a healthcare provider. Twitter, Facebook, and consumer review websites increasingly present healthcare tweets, posts, and customer opinions that are considered by prospective patients.

So what are customers tweeting about the experience in your business? What are they telling the people who referred them to you? What value added services are you providing to those who send business your way?

Laws of gravity and customer loyalty apply to all of us – your success can’t go up if a stronger negative force of your customer experience is pulling you down!

About the Author

Joseph Michelli

Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D., is an internationally sought-after speaker, author, and organizational consultant who has been described as “catching what is right in the world and playfully sparking people and businesses to grow toward the extraordinary.” In addition to writing best-selling books about enduring business principles, he hosted an award-winning daily radio program in Colorado Springs, Colorado for over a decade. 

Dr. Michelli transfers his knowledge of exceptional business practices through keynote presentations that explore ways to develop joyful and productive workplaces with a focus on the total customer experience. His insights encourage leaders and frontline workers to grow and invest passionately in all aspects of their life. 


Dr. Michelli's book, The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary, published by McGraw-Hill, regularly achieved bestseller status on the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek Magazine, and USA Today lists. He has been featured on television programs such as The Glenn Beck Show and CNBC’s “On the Money” and has conducted hundreds of radio and print interviews. 


Dr. Michelli’s other books include The New Gold Standard about service excellence at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and When Fish Fly: Lessons for Creating a Vital and Energized Workplace which was co-authored with the owner of the "World Famous" Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle. He is currently working on a new book about enhancing the healthcare experience the UCLA Medical Center way.  


Dr. Michelli believes his greatest accomplishment is his ability to learn from the laughter and humor of his children, Andrew and Fiona.




Information about Dr. Michelli can be found: - Joseph's main website about his speaking and other services - Book website - The New Gold Standard - Book website - The Starbucks Experience - Joseph's weekly 3 - 5 minute award-winning podcasts - customer service educational video series (8 segments of 4 -5 minutes each) produced by BusinessWeek On Line outlining principles included in The New Gold Standard and The Starbucks Experience







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  1. healthcare consumer

    When will the UCLA book be released?

  2. The book is due to be released later this year, however there is a delay with the publisher at present. We are in contact with the author, and will let you know as soon as it is out!

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