Meet Jake Poore. As President and Chief Experience Officer of Integrated Loyalty Systems in Orlando, Florida, Jake’s on a mission to elevate the human side of healthcare. For more than two decades, he has worked with healthcare leaders sharing the blueprints needed to create a culture that delivers exceptional patient and customer experiences. For 18 years, Jake worked for the Walt Disney World Company, where he helped launch the Disney Institute. Nearly 80 percent of the people who attended the Institute were from healthcare, and that’s where his passion for improving healthcare began. He is the author of the forthcoming book, “99 Lessons Learned from Disney to Improve the Patient Experience.” You can follow Jake on Twitter @JakePoore and read more about him on his website at www.wecreateloyalty.com.
QUESTION: As a big fan of the Disney Institute (and I’d definitely attend all of its training seminars if I lived in Florida!), and as an alum of the Walt Disney Company (I worked in the Consumer Marketing Department at Disneyland Paris in France for my summer internship during graduate school in 1995), I wonder if most companies would benefit from having something similar to Disney University to train all employees about a brand's core beliefs or something similar to Disney Institute to help train a brand’s leaders. What are your thoughts?
JAKE POORE: There are two types of employees in every organization: those who are making brand promises and those who are delivering on the promise of the brand. Both groups would benefit from understanding the brand’s core purpose and strategy. So, the answer, of course, is yes. Who we are, why we do what we do, our story, how we got here...all of those things are foundational. Everyone has to know these things.
It’s also important for every employee to know and fully understand what we stand for and what we won’t stand for as an organization. And, to know what adds value to the brand and what unintentionally distracts or detracts from the brand.
In the end, you either have brand owners, protectors, or proponents. Or, you have brand poachers. People in the organization who are tarnishing the branding (intentionally or unintentionally) by doing their own thing in silos focused solely on their job tasks. These are the folks who are not delivering on the promise of the brand.
Organizations like Southwest Airlines, Zappos, Ritz Carlton, and Disney know that the Net Promoter Score of their brand is determined by how well every one of their employees knows, understands, and can behavioralize the brand in actions and words. (The Net Promoter Score, NPS, is a marketing measurement used to determine the percentage of customers who would recommend your brand to family and friends, based on a series of questions including, “On a scale of one to ten, how likely are you to recommend us?”)
Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” This is true for healthcare and every business or organization. There must be a consistency, a continuity, — where every employee is working under the same set of operational priorities and toward the same end in mind: delivering a world-class experience.
QUESTION: In my blog post entitled, “Want Your Brand to Soar Above the Competition?,” I shared six amazing #BrandExperiences (link follows below). Could you share some of YOUR favorite brand experiences and your reasons why?
Blog post link: http://debbielaskey.blogspot.com/2018/04/want-your-brand-to-soar-above.html
JAKE POORE: One of my absolute favorite brands is Apple. The online Apple helpline is fantastic, but the service at their brick and mortar Apple stores is second-to-none. If I need a repair or service on my laptop or iPhone, I try to get to the store just prior to opening. Of course, the whole store is glass, so I get to watch them have their team meeting about 15 minutes before the store opens. The employees end the meeting with applause as they walk toward the front door (nonverbal communication) to open up for the day. This builds excitement and makes the customers feel welcomed. Once the doors open, you meet a greeter who “triages” you, plugs your information into their iPad, and makes note of the clothing you’re wearing or some other identifiable feature (glasses, business suit, etc.) so that an Apple associate can find you with ease. I’m familiar with Apple products and have used them for many years, but I still appreciate that they talk to me in a language I understand. I travel frequently for work and if I walk in to the Apple store and tell them I’ve got a problem, but I have to get on a plane in an hour, they jump all over it. A great brand experience is when your organizational culture meets your customer where THEY ARE – not the other way around. Apple does this exceptionally well.
Southwest Airlines is another brand experience done well. Their waiting area is exceptionally well done. Their check-in processes are always friendly, always relaxed. And their terminals are always decorated or themed for holidays or sporting events. And notably, their employees seem to be having fun. And while in flight, it’s the only airline where I take off my headset because I can’t wait to hear what they’re going to say or do next. It’s an organization that is continuously improving and elevating the experience by using the people closest to the experience.
TWEET THIS: Every employee needs to know and fully understand what adds value to the brand and what unintentionally distracts or detracts from the brand. -@JakePoore
QUESTION: You’ve written on your blog that, "Creating great experiences doesn’t require lots of money or huge effort. Instead, focus on the little things, the little wows, the little ways you can exceed your customers’ or patients’ expectations. When you add them all up, these little moments that delight your customers and patients are what define a world-class experience.” Can you provide some examples?
JAKE POORE: I think that before we can delight, we must first remove the emotional hot spots in healthcare. Hospitals are notorious for creating lots of self-inflicted wounds in the patient experience, daily! Florence Nightingale, the mother of modern-day nursing said it best, “Apprehension, uncertainty, waiting, expectation, fear of surprise, do a patient more harm than any exertion.” In every patient or customer interaction, we are either elevating their fear and anxiety or unintentionally adding to it.
So, a good place to start is to list the anxiety hot spots that put anxiety chips on patient’s shoulders before they ever get to see a provider and seek simple, low, or no cost ideas to solve them. For instance, can we answer these questions: Where do I park? Which of the four entrances is the right one? Is there a wheelchair there for me? Where do I check-in? How long will I have to wait? How much will this cost? Will they speak my language, or will I need a need a healthcare jargon translator? Will they call me by my preferred name or am I just a clinic ID number, procedure or “the hip” in room 103? What is that smell? Will there be something to do if I have to wait a long time? Is there any art or music to enjoy? Who is who on the care team? Who is who in the operating room behind those surgical masks? Will they respect me and treat with dignity (even down to the patient belongings bags)? Will I remember where I parked in three days when I leave? Most of the answers to these questions can be answered creatively and with a keen eye toward stewardship, but they must be answered through the patient’s eyes.
Customers tell us that world-class experiences don’t happen because of one big thing; they happen because of lots of attention to the small things, the little wows. One way to create these little wows is to identify and proactively anticipate a patient or customer’s “pain points” or “friction points.” What things do people see or encounter that might leave a bad impression? Once you identify these things, you can take steps to proactively address them by removing the pain and friction and adding more little wows.
A good starting point is perhaps someplace you might not even think about: the hospital parking garage or parking lot. Consider the perspective of an elderly patient arriving at the hospital for scheduled knee surgery. We know she is coming, she is scheduled after all. But does she feel like we’re expecting her? Her first point of anxiety shouldn’t be entering the hospital from the parking lot or parking garage, but too often, it is. Where should she park? How does she feel when she has to drive past 35 parking spots reserved “ONLY for medical personnel” and then she has to compete with other hospital employees arriving in their scrubs for the remaining spots? She’ll need a wheelchair. Is there one close by? Will someone push her? All of this causes her blood pressure to rise.
But, lucky for her, we have anticipated this and have volunteers in golf carts to pick her up and take her to her appointment. Along the way, they chat, and the volunteer hands the patient, “Margo”, a slip of paper with her parking spot number and floor and his phone number to call for a ride back to her car. He then texts the surgical front desk with a heads up: “Margaret ‘Margo’ Jones on her way. From volunteer Bill.”
When she arrives to the pre-surgery check in, she is immediately greeted by her preferred name and a hand shake from the front desk personnel, “Hello Margo, welcome, my name is Joanne, we’ve been expecting you! Heard you got a limo ride from our Bill, isn’t he GREAT! Now, let’s get you checked-in.” Margo is very impressed. After checking in, she sits in a crowded waiting area. Minutes later, a medical assistant walks right up to her and quietly says to her, “You must be Margo. Hi, my name is John, I work with Dr. Williams. I can take you back now and get prepped for your knee surgery.” Margo suddenly remembers her doctor’s office experience and how they just shout out people’s names to the whole waiting area. She liked it here at the hospital much better!
During surgery, every one of the surgical team members have their names printed on the skull caps and their role (Dr. Williams/Surgeon, Dr. Smith/Anesthesiology, Jennifer/Nurse), and they all introduced themselves before she went to sleep. She liked that!
And after surgery, on the way out, she noticed that her patient belongings bag was opaque white with a nice message of thank you from the hospital – not the clear plastic bag used last time (revealing all of her undergarments to the world)! She called the number on the piece of paper, and then a volunteer named Betty arrived, picked her up, and dropped her at her parked car. How much money did that all that cost? And what impact did that make on Margo? How did it make her feel? Priceless, right?
QUESTION: You’ve stated on Twitter that you believe “how employees treat each other should MIRROR how everyone treats patients, customers, fans, etc.” While that is a noble goal, how can leaders create a culture where everyone practices kindness, fairness, inclusiveness, etc.?
JAKE POORE: Like the old adage says, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Leaders must lead by example. In our patient example earlier, Margo did not know how technically or clinically competent her caregivers were, but she will surely tell you how caring they were, right? The question is, how can we expect our employees to continue to do that with patients if we (leaders) don’t do that with them as well?
One simple technique we teach our clients is a powerful, yet simple tool called Human-Business-Human, or HBH. The premise is simple: Human first, Business second, Human third. Start every interaction or meeting on the human side, conduct your business, and then end every interaction on the human side, seeking to make some kind of human connection in the process.
When we scheduled Mrs. Margaret Jones for her surgery, we simply asked her (on the human side) what name she would prefer to be called by the care team members, and she said, “Please call me Margo.” That answer went into HER (electronic health record), on the medical chart, and the many patient dry erase boards, and the happy result was that everyone called her, “Margo.”
If this one simple thing made her feel special and engendered her trust, why don’t we do the same simple thing for every new employee when they are hired as well? When new employees or doctors arrive to their work location, there should be a “welcome to the team” card (signed by all the team members) with their preferred name that they want to be called featured on it. Their name and business cards should all follow suit and include the preferred name. (How often has this NOT been the case at your new job?)
Leaders can also practice HBH in the way they answer the phone, respond to text messages, or conduct team meetings. For example, you can start team meetings “on the human” by sharing an inspirational quote or by asking, “Who has a celebration (work related or personal)?” Celebrations include work recertifications, birthdays, graduations, vacation plans, new baby announcements, etc. Then, we conduct our team meeting and get down to business. Finally, we end the meeting “on the human” by sharing appreciation for employees’ time, input, and each another.
TWEET THIS: Look for the things the organization is doing well so they become business as usual and not random acts of kindness. -@JakePoore
QUESTION: Do you think every business should have a Chief Customer Officer? What should the person’s role be? And is this a necessary C-level position?
JAKE POORE: The short answer is absolutely yes! It doesn’t have to be a C-Suite level position, but I absolutely believe that this person must report directly to the CEO. Why? Because it’s THAT important. While customer service is everybody’s job, someone has to be working on it 100% of the time. That person cannot and, quite frankly, should not have skin in anything else (COO, CNO, CMO, etc.). If they do have other responsibilities, and anything happens in their department, they’re more likely to protect their own specialty area than find out what really happened. That hurts the whole process and does nothing to advance the patient or customer experience.
Someone needs to collect the research by interviewing patients, walking the entire guest experience every day and looking for the things the organization is doing well so they can share and hardwire them – so they become business as usual and not random acts of kindness. Someone needs to help build the processes, not remain stuck in the trenches battling the day-to-day complaints.
And when things go wrong, and their team is handling customer service concerns or complaints, this officer can gather stories of what is happening and find the solutions that were offered and then build what I call a “Play” for the “Always Playbook”— just like in sports — to prevent the problem or issue from happening again. This Always Playbook is shared with every team member so that everyone knows what to do, should a similar situation arise again.
The key question here is: Who is advocating for the customer every day? A Chief Customer Officer should also be doing the research and following up. Because if you spend some time walking the customer experience, you can spot the things that need to be fixed or changed. A dedicated Chief Customer Experience officer needs to be looking through the lens of the customer — not SOME of the time, but ALL of the time. Always. Because if they’re not focused on it 100 percent of the time, then they’re not advocating for the customer. All they’re doing is dancing between random acts of kindness and complaints.
TWEET THIS: Walt Disney said, “Sometimes I think of myself as a little bee. I go from one area of the studio to another and gather pollen to stimulate everybody.” This is a great way to describe the role of a #ChiefCustomerOfficer. -@JakePoore
My gratitude and appreciation to Jake for appearing on my Blog and sharing his amazing and inspiring business insights.
Image Credit: Jake Poore via Kim Court.