Marketing creates the “promise” for what patients should expect when engaging with your practice. But it isn’t your marketing team that delivers that promise. It’s your staff! Join Michael and Scott as they discuss how to activate staff to play their critical role in delivering remarkable care that leads to increased word of mouth and better patient experiences.
Books referenced in the show:
- Unleashing the Chief Moment Officers: Reliably Giving the Gift of Exceptional Experiences, Diane Stover-Hopkins
- The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande
- Strengths Finder 2.0, Tom Rath
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Announcer: It’s time to think differently about healthcare, but how do we keep up? The days of yesterday’s medicine are long gone and we’re left trying to figure out where to go from here. With all the talk about politics and technology, it can be easy to forget that healthcare is still all about humans. And many of those humans have unbelievable stories to tell. Here, we leave the policy debates to the other guys and focus instead on the people and ideas that are changing the way we address our health. It’s time to navigate the new landscape of healthcare together and hear some amazing stories along the way. Ready for a breath of fresh air? It’s time for your paradigm shift.
Michael: Welcome to the “Paradigm Shift of Healthcare,” and thank you for listening. I’m Michael Roberts here today with my co-host, Scott Zeizter. This show is focused on the many ways that healthcare is changing and how the consumerization of healthcare is affecting practices. We talk about this topic on a regular basis at p3practicingmarketing.com. And we invite you to be a part of that conversation there. Today, we’re continuing a deep dive into word-of-mouth marketing. Last week, we talked about how customer service really is the next word of mouth, you know, and we talked about how…really we’re talking about patient care, but it’s all the things that surround the actual procedure itself. So, spending a little bit of time accommodating different types of patients can pay off in really big ways. So today, let’s talk about the role that staff play in providing that customer care and providing that patient care.
Scott: Yeah, and empowering the staff, right? So, it is about your staff, 100%. Like I get it, you’ve got to do good surgery. You’ve got to do a good procedure. I kind of take that as, and I know that that’s terrible, but I kind of take that as like, yeah, that’s kind of a minimum, you know, like you better be able to do that rotator cuff repair, or you shouldn’t be talking about it.
Michael: Yeah. Really for the business of the practice, right? Like, your whole, like, skill set as a surgeon, all that kind of stuff.
Scott: Right, man. I get it. Nothing I can help you with there. I hope you studied hard, I hope you practiced well, and continue to learn your practice. Well, it is the art of medicine. But that being said, yeah, this goes back to not that, you know, I’ve talked to many orthopedic surgeons, who’ve talked quite a bit about, “Man, I wish that they would just give us just some, you know, the basics of running a business.” The basics in med school, in my residency program, I really do think it’s something that needs to be looked at.
Michael: We’ve actually got an upcoming interview that will speak to exactly that topic.
Scott: Yeah, and I’m really excited about it. I think it’s a huge hole. We call it, you know, the consumerization of healthcare. I say it’s part of just treating people well. Why do we accept, you know, being treated like this when we’re at our most vulnerable? It doesn’t make sense. So this goes back to like, hey, you know, we’ve talked about customer service being so critical to word of mouth and the idea of talk triggers, kind of special things that kind of trigger the talk, that’s basically what it is. So, we on the marketing side create the promise, right? We’re talking the talk for the practice. How do you get the walk part, right? So, imagine spending $2 million advertising some campaign, right? You’re a hospital system, bariatric surgery, and you advertise how great you are, about how you’re reducing pain, about how you’re taking great care of them, all that stuff, right? And then you show up and it’s just horrid, for whatever reason, you know, right. You have to wait hours, etc. No one cared about you. No one called afterwards, etc., etc.
If you don’t get your staff to deliver, that’s a real issue. And so taking the time, all medical doctors, all surgeons take the time, continuing education units to learn their craft better. They take the time to round, etc. If you don’t take the time to empower your staff, to train them, you know, I always joke about that woman who was saying, “Hey, it’s sports medicine, not orthopedic surgery.” And that’s why the sports medicine surgeon wasn’t getting any cases or was not getting as many. Well, shame on them for not training them. Why aren’t you training them? Why aren’t you taking the time to call through the main line? Why aren’t you concerned that, “Wow, I was on hold for seven and a half minutes?” That’s not acceptable, man. That’s not something where you go like, “Oh, wow, we must be busy.” Whoa, maybe you are, but if that’s your norm… You know, that goes back to that thing, Michael, you and I talk about this. I talk about it all the time with my customers about value versus volume. If you just looking to churn and go like, okay, that’s what you’re gonna end up being known for, that’s not great, but you can get such better patients who will pay you better too. There’s a reason to do all this kind of stuff.
Michael: For sure. We talked about talk triggers and we talked about being remarkable. Somebody is worth taking the time to talk about your practice. It’s possible to have very negative talk triggers and to be remarkable in a very negative way. And so, you know, you think about like, you know, one of the big conversations that we have with people around talking about, should you do any kind of reputation management, reputation marketing kinds of services? Trying to generate those reviews because most of the time, if you do an acceptable job, if you do the job that people expect that you’ll do, it’s not remarkable. It’s not worth taking the time to go and really say something positive, or even say something negative. It just happened, and so you just move on. But if you are doing something that does trigger a negative reaction, it will get a reaction. It will go on on those different sites. And the same is true for the positive as well. So it’s something to definitely keep in mind, again, like I think just this kind of like rock in the pond kind of reverberation. Like if that experience at the point of the appointment isn’t going well, you’re definitely creating negative ripples there as well. One concept for activating staff to provide moments of delight and generate positive word of mouth is this concept of every staff member being a chief moment officer.
Scott: This is actually a great idea. So I wanted everybody to kind of lean in a little bit because when I heard chief moment officer, I was like, “Oh, come on.” And then I read the article and I’m like, “Wow, there’s a lot to be said here.” So that’s why I interrupted you, Michael, because I wanted everybody to lean in and go, it’s okay, chief moment officer’s a little, you know, cute, but there’s actually some really good thought behind this. So now that I’ve interrupted you, go ahead, Michael.
Michael: This is like the staff member that we used to have that labeled himself as like chief thunder god.
Scott: Chief thunder god. I think that’s [inaudible 00:06:44]. I get it.
Michael: One of the titles that we had and stuff. This phrase actually has meaning as opposed to what we had used in the past for chief thunder. So, Diane Stover-Hopkins wrote the book, “Unleashing the Chief Moment Officers: Reliably Giving the Gift of Exceptional Experiences.” And again, this goes so much into what we were talking about in the last episode, talk triggers, being remarkable. What are the things that are really going to turn the corner there? And so, Diane was one of the first chief experience officers at a major health system. And in this book, one of the themes that she pulls out is that since you can’t prepare all the staff for everything that could come their way, you have to develop an instinct so that whatever comes their way, they have a direction to go.
So, Gawande’s book, you know, like “The Checklist Manifesto,” right? Love the book, has so many like great points in there. And one of the points that he actually makes in his book is talking about, if you get too prescriptive with your checklists, it makes people turn their brain off, right? They just follow the motions and they don’t necessarily think about what they’re actually doing. That really goes alongside with what she found, right? Like, how can we give them the right instincts and not necessarily just the exact steps to follow so that you don’t end up with like those horrid airline stories that we hear about, “Well, it was the process and we just followed through.” And so even if they were prepared, they were doing the wrong things, but this is that extra level because new stuff keeps happening. It keeps coming up.
Scott: Yeah. And the other thing too is like, look, you only had so many medical doctors on staff. So we don’t want someone who’s not qualified to provide bad information either. And I remember I was in my 20s and I was getting trained by Johnson & Johnson. You know, I was lucky enough to go work for Johnson & Johnson. And one of the first things one of my trainers said was, “Never ever lie. If you don’t know the answer, you don’t know the answer.” You can always get the answer. That was his thing. Like, he just hammered it home and goes like, there is a patient that, you know, someone’s taking care of a patient, and they might be asking about a product that you have, but they’re gonna utilize that information to take care of a human being. Never ever lie. If you don’t know, you don’t know. It’s okay not to know. But part of that instinct process is where would you go to try to get an answer? Like, I don’t know, but I can get an answer for you is okay to say. That kind of conversation can be very positive. I remember the first time I said it, I was a kid. I didn’t know any better. I didn’t know the answer to the question. I said it. And they were like, “Oh, thank you. When can you get it?” Oh, okay. That’s great. All right. I’ve got to go ask somebody else, but thank you. Like, it really was appreciated.
Michael: Going back to Diane’s book, this book by Diane Stover-Hopkins, one of the core premises here is that whether you have a staff of pretend 1,000 members, whether your organization is just that large, leaders have a foundational responsibility to ensure that workers at all levels, and I think that’s so critical that people at all levels are well-prepared and informed to understand their personal influence on customers. So, going back to what you just said there, Scott, like, it’s not just about whether or not you have an answer, but it’s what influence each of these people have on how a patient, on how a customer is interacting with that system. So we think about frontline staff and we talk about frontline staff so often, and some of the people at the desk may be the lowest paid in the practice, right? And this is the first interaction that somebody has with that practice. Not training them well, not helping them find the right instincts, not giving them enough development is only gonna bite you over and over and over.
Scott: Yeah. You know, it’s interesting you bring that up. Imagine if a patient calls your practice and doesn’t want a 2:00 appointment on Tuesday, actually has questions. How have you empowered and trained your staff? It’s not like you’re going to train your staff on how to answer every question. That makes no sense, right? I mean, like you said, they probably are lower-level employees that are not LPNs, RNs, PAs, MDs, etc. So, what’s the answer to that? And if the answer to that training would be like, you know what? I see that you’re not ready to book an appointment and you have a lot of questions, why don’t I get your name and number and I’ll get someone on our staff to give you a phone call is certainly an appreciated answer. Now, of course, you need to follow through, but then having somebody who can make that call, whether if it’s a small practice, the doctor themselves, or whether it’s a PA or one of the nurses on staff, etc., all good, whatever that is.
And remember, it still keeps growing uphill, right? I have a lot of friends who are RNs and a lot of friends who are PAs, and MDs, like, just been in this field for a very long time. And understanding when to say, “I don’t know,” is a critical component moving up the ladder, moving up the chain is perfectly reasonable. These things help patients feel like you’re taking care of them, but saying stuff like, “I don’t know, but you wanna come in on Tuesday,” does not. And it might be a loss for you, especially if you’re an orthopod or spine, you know, one of these secondary, tertiary, like, surgeons like, hey man, you don’t want to be seeing a patient you’re not supposed to see. That’s actually a waste of the surgeon’s time and a waste of the patient’s time. It’s just a loss-loss.
Hey, this is Michael with your P3 pro tip for the week. More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we are still facing ever-changing policies and recommendations. It’s important to keep your patients up-to-date with your office’s latest policies so people know what to expect and can prepare ahead of time. That starts with a page in your website explaining your practice’s current COVID-19 policies that’s linked in an easily accessible location. Also, did you know that Google My Business has made several COVID-related updates over the past year? You can now link directly to any relevant telemedicine information and your practice’s COVID policy page from your map listing. You can also indicate if masks and temperature checks are required and set temporary business hours for locations that might’ve changed hours or closed temporarily. Providing all of this information on your business listing makes it easy for your patients to find ahead of their appointments, which is a big win.
If you’re just joining us, this is the “Paradigm Shift of Healthcare.” I’m Michael Roberts, joined here today by Scott Zeitzer. We’re talking through what word of mouth looks like for today’s practices. In our last episode, we were talking some about how the customer service and customer care, patient care component of that really shines through. But we’re talking some about this concept of a chief moment officer, and we even overcame Scott’s cranky old man disease, we overcame his skepticism towards this topic. So, let’s continue on with this, Scott.
Scott: Yeah. So, first of all, I’m not sure if we mentioned the name of the book. Did we mention the name of the book?
Michael: We did. I was on it. I was on it, I took care of it. But we’ll mention it one more time. It’s, “Unleashing the Chief Moment Officers: Reliably Giving the Gift of Exceptional Experiences.”
Scott: I just wanted to make sure you give the proper credit there.
Scott: It’s a good book. So there are a couple of concepts that we can take, like, how can practices activate the staff so they can view themselves as chief moment officers? How do you empower your staff? And this is that we have to have a commitment. You know, you didn’t just hire somebody and say, “Good, they can go answer the phones now.” It’s like, “Really? What kind of training did you give them?” “Well, I told them how to pick up the phone and I told them how to enter data into the EMR.” “Really, that’s all you did? Did you tell them where the bathroom was too? That’s nice of you. And to take time off between 12 and 1 so that no one answers the phone?” This is what I mean about taking the time to think this through. If you want to remarkable, you’re gonna have to slow down a little bit, which is hard, surgeons don’t like to slow down, but you gotta slow down a little bit and say like, you know, “What am I going to do to make this person feel comfortable enough that they can take good care of themselves and the practice?” Because it’s going to make the surgeon shine. It’s going to make the practice as a whole shine if you slow down to do this kind of stuff.
Michael: Absolutely. And one of the big concepts here is this idea of co-creation. There’s obviously the, you know, administrative idea that you just create the processes at the top, and then everybody else has to deal with it. That’s kind of the traditional way, right? It’s the way that, I think people have to fight. It’s funny. So, very related to this concept, actually, I was trying to figure out some processes for staff for our company. And I was trying to figure out like, okay, maybe if we just, you know, really kind of centralize the decision-making and we really just kind of like roll out exactly what we need to have other people do. And I was like, I’m gonna go find maybe like a Harvard Business Review article or something like that that really support my thinking. That’s just completely wrong. I mean, completely… It’s like, everything was like, yeah, you know, 50 years ago, maybe this was a decent idea, but please don’t do it this way because you completely take away everybody’s buy-in, completely take away everybody’s, you know, ability to care about the processes that touches all through.
Scott: Yeah. You know, this co-creation thing, Michael, is so critical. I remember…you know, I’ve owned a small business for a long time. And I remember when I started, I had all the answers. So, of course, I told everybody what to do, when to do it, how to do it, micromanaged the heck out of them. It was a great first year for everybody. Yeah, quite a failure. You know, co-creation is about how to get and how to really believe in it, getting input, you know, from that new hire. And I get it, you’re a talented surgeon and you’re very busy and you just hired someone who’s going to “answer the phone.” And if all you think is that all you hired was someone to “answer the phone,” then you know what, man? You gotta reset, you know, the boundary conditions here. Don’t think of that person as just the person answering the phone. I know we’re harping on this one because it’s such an easy one. There’s a lot of different places, the billing person, etc. But the person answering the phone, it’s no, you know, that’s the greeter to your practice. It’s not the person answering the phone. My mom can answer the phone and she would probably answer the phone like, “Doctor’s office,” you know, and she would know nothing.
Michael: I just keep picturing like that character from “Monsters, Inc,” like the one…
Scott: Yeah. And my mother does not sound like this, but it’s what I enjoy doing, and it really drives her crazy too. But again, think about it like, you know, anybody can answer the phone, right? But that’s not gonna make someone feel comfortable. So this whole idea of co-creation of bringing…you know, you bring people together from different positions, talk a little bit, share perspectives, and come up with a game plan that works for everybody. I think that’s so critical, you know, I can’t tell you how much better your patients will be when they have good expectations and that you’ve trained your staff to feel like they’re empowered to take care of people and how you’ll keep your staff longer because of that. Which, man, that’s easy. Man, that’s helpful.
Michael: I spend a lot of time through a week now managing. This is definitely a big part of that process, and processes became the thing for me. Like, a few years back…
Scott: That was your whole MBA, right? [inaudible 00:18:26] a lot of the processes, like you became the process king.
Michael: It was so interesting because so much of going into the MBA was like, I’m an ideas person and it’s cool because I got ideas and I’m in marketing and I can come up with these cool concepts and stuff. And how much of the courses were like, we get it, you’re an ideas person, good for you. But if you don’t have the processes, all of those ideas are just gonna fall apart.
Scott: Gonna go away, right?
Michael: They’re never going to get anywhere. And it’s very valid. The number of things that I was so certain were going to work and then just didn’t have enough structure to actually go anywhere. And I think that it’s incredibly relevant for this discussion because it’s not just about giving some ideas out to people and like just letting them go do it. But this concept of bringing people together from various parts of the practice, because it’s easy to have two people even work together and go like, okay, we figured it out. Whatever it is, we figured out the process and this is how we’re gonna do it. But we didn’t take into consideration this whole sector of the business or this whole segment of the people that need to interact. And there’s a fine line there, all of this stuff, right? We talk about having to find the balance on this stuff, but you can’t have too many people in that meeting and then completely drag things down, but there are a lot of concepts that you do have to keep on communicating to your entire staff. You do need to be able to get some input back from them to be able to build the right processes because it’s so easy to build the wrong ones.
Scott: You know, for everybody listening in, really, you know, practices are small businesses. It’s what they are. Sometimes it’s, you know, the surgeon and, you know, a couple of people. Sometimes it’s, you know, 50 surgeons with people, blah, blah, blah. It’s like, and when I grew, you know, it was basically, I was one person in an iMac, you know, and then we grew up to be, you know, where we are now. And it became different. It’s like, I don’t really have a lot of conversations with your staff. I mean, other than like, how’s the baby and stuff like that because that’s your job, right? And then you walk it uphill, like, if there’s something going on where you’re like, man, you know, I can set a couple of questions that bring up some really interesting thoughts, want to get your feedback on it too. Like, we’ve had that many, many times, and I get that from different departments and that’s great. So, finding that right balance and then sometimes, Michael, you and I both said, “Hey, you know what? There’s a lot of different opinions out here, but we’re gonna go with this. And this is why I think that.” I do not believe in just saying like, this is what we’re doing because I said so. Like that doesn’t work. But being transparent enough, like everybody’s got good ideas, but right now in my gut, I think this is the best way to go. And hey, we’ll see if it works, let’s measure it. You get good buy-in for that as well.
Michael: The whole thing about how different people respond and how different people like are able to jump in and feel confident in a process. So, we were big on StrengthsFinder as a way to kind of help staff work together. It’s something that, it made a big difference in how I view my own work and how I understand like where my strengths are and all that kind of… And to stop spending so much time on the things I really am not that great at.
Scott: And vice versa, you know, for the people you’re managing. It’s like, I’m not gonna [inaudible 00:21:35], I’m gonna work on this. I’m gonna focus on these positives. Yeah.
Michael: Yeah. Here are the things that I can work on. And then here are the things that, you know, when we’re talking about co-creation, here are the things that your other staff members are really good at. And trying to power through this on your own, there are so many things that I used to do because like, I felt like this task sucked to have to get done. So I didn’t want to like penalize somebody else, and so I would just power through it and it would take me five times longer than it would take somebody else. And somebody else is like, “I actually liked that task. Like, that’s good.” I’m like, oh thank God because I hate it.
Scott: My entire company knows that I am not a detail-oriented person, period. I’m just not. And that’s okay because we’ve hired a lot of detail-oriented people. And there’s actually a joke where it’s like, “Don’t let Scott on that call. He’s just gonna like go off on a tangent and have fun with…”
Michael: Thirty-thousand feet, this is what we’re thinking. Pixie Dust, if we could just put it…
Scott: From high up here, this is what I feel, you know, that’s okay. Or the other way around, like you could be an extremely detail-oriented person, but you’re so in the weeds that you need someone to kind of take a look from above. That’s a whole conversation about StrengthsFinder, whole conversation about transparency. Ultimately, getting back to where we were, it’s like figure out how to take the time to empower your staff to be these chief moment officers. And it’s not hard, the book’s an easy read. I really do think it’s something that is certainly valuable. But more importantly, I think it’s really about taking the time to slow down a little bit and say, how do you want…you know, this is my business. This is my brand. I always talk about this with surgeons, it’s like, you know, your name is your brand. What they say about you may have very little to do with that lovely incision you made and that nice chamfer cut if you’re a total knee guy or gal. It really is about the whole business as a whole. And man, it’s important, take the time.
Michael: So, talking about branding, in particular, I saw something that was posted on LinkedIn just recently. It’s funny because it kind of gives some of this like hand in hand, right? Like, how customer service works alongside your marketing and how your branding kind of all fits in there. And I’m gonna try to give the person credit that posted this. The name is Jenny Bjorklof, maybe I’m getting that right. Someone…
Scott: You could spell that everybody. Go ahead.
Michael: So it’s got some of those like Os with little dots above it. It’s someone from Belgium, but B-J-O-R-K-L-O-F, and with the little dots.
Scott: Yeah. That’s why spelling it is good. Go ahead.
Michael: But the post was marketing is like asking someone on a date, and branding is the reason they say yes.
Scott: There you go. That’s lovely.
Michael: Love it. So, actually, David Baker was the one that like reshared and everything.
Scott: [crosstalk 00:24:32] That’s a great point. Say that one more time.
Michael: So, marketing is like asking someone on a date, and branding is the reason they say yes. If we were kind of going down this path, I would say that customer service and your patient care is the reason that you stay married, perhaps, like, you stay in that relationship. But so much of this, like, hey, this is how…all of these pieces do have to fit together. All of these things do come together. And you if think about any relationship that you have, in order to have a successful relationship, you put in a lot of effort. If you are married, if you do have a good friendship, if you do have, you know, a tight family, like you put in a lot of effort on a lot of different levels. Patient care, what patients are expecting today and looking for today require a lot of effort. And it’s not just you, it’s not just the surgeon, It’s not just the decision-maker at the top, it’s the entire team.
Scott: Never. It’s never.
Michael: And so, causing the entire team to be able to think like this and to be able to react like this, it takes a lot of work and a lot of planning.
Scott: No doubt about it. I always go back to if you’re paying us to talk the talk, someone better start walking the walk. And if you’re not, then man, you’re spending a lot of money for nothing.
Michael: Let’s come to the bottom line on this, marketing makes the promise to patients, but that promise is delivered by the staff. Just very quickly just to kind of recap the resources we named off here because we did have quite a few. We did have the Diane Stover-Hopkins book, “Unleashing the Chief Moment Officers: Reliably Giving the Gift of Exceptional Experiences.” And we did talk about the book, “The Checklist Manifesto” by, is it Atul Gawande?
Scott: Yeah, I think that’s him.
Michael: I’m not sure exactly how to say that. And then also the “StrengthsFinder 2.0” book. And I can’t remember that author’s name off the top of my head. But these are a few different resources, I think that you can pull together to start looking and digging into this experience even more deeply. How can you transform your staff even more? I think that a lot of people that are listening to this are already interested in this and already thinking about this. Thank you so much for joining us today. If you’d like to learn more, please feel free to visit our website at p3practicemarketing.com. We set up a short quiz to help practices think through their approach to word of mouth and what next steps might look like. And you can find that quiz on our homepage. Until next time, thank you so much. Have a great week.
Announcer: Thanks again for tuning into the “Paradigm Shift of Healthcare.” This program is brought to you by Health Connective, custom marketing solutions for MedTech and pharma. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, or anywhere you listen to podcasts.