The most successful organizations in the world are ones that are always looking to innovate and rise above the status quo of their own industry. Ambitious executives and CEOs work diligently to identify and adopt best practices from other industries to improve their business model.
The Healthcare and Hospitality industries have much in common. The following four areas have propelled some of the luxurious hotel brands to reach new levels of service excellence. Healthcare systems can adopt these best practices to dramatically enhance provider relations, patient experience, and financial standing.
1. Employee selection, on-boarding, and training
Needless to say, your organization’s service delivery model will only be as good as the employees delivering the service. Most world-class hotel brands view employee selection as the single most important factor in strengthening and developing the organization’s service culture. Applicants typically undergo a rigorous on-boarding process to determine fit and test for key desired qualities. Once selected, employees undergo an elaborate orientation where they are exposed to the organization’s service culture, vision, mission, and standards. Leaders in the hospitality industry view orientation as a recurring activity, and ensure through periodic training sessions that all employees are committed to the service culture of the organizations.
In Healthcare, the commitment to service excellence must be energized by all employees and leaders. Healthcare must be able to efficiently guide new talent through an effective on-boarding process. The on-boarding ’impression’ is a vital first step to attracting and selecting individuals who can connect, resolve problems, and comfort patients.
2. Warm welcome
When visiting a luxurious hotel, one can expect to be greeted by managers and staff before they even set foot inside the hotel lobby. The warm welcome (or first impression) the guest experiences sets the tone for rest of the stay. After a long day of travel and last minute work follow-ups, the subtle but yet powerful impression of the staff provides guests with exactly what is needed to alleviate stress, and know that you are going to be ’taken care of.’
Patients traveling to hospitals are typically under much more stress than hotel guests, and yet, the arrival experience is generally underwhelming, frustrating, and unnerving. Imagine if hospital staff or even providers warmly greeted patients as soon as they enter the hospital doors, reassuring that they are in good hands. The patient needs to feel that his or her needs are going to be met and exceeded. The sense of trust that a patient is able to perceive from the first impression a hospital creates is essential to creating an exceptional patient experience.
3. Anticipation of needs
The ability to ’sense and react’ is one of the most fundamental qualities service providers embody. The best hotels in the worlds are renowned because of their ability to deliver exceptional service, and not necessarily because of the condition or location of the facility. Guests always remember specific employees who made their stay exceptional, and without fail attribute anticipation of needs as the paramount differentiating ability of those individuals. In the best hotels, you can count on the front office agent to place you in a connecting room if you are traveling with your young children, and for the doorman to hand you a bottle of water on your way out jogging, without even asking for it. It is the simple, and very basic gestures that make a difference for guests.
In Healthcare, the anticipation of needs concept is much more significant. Patients are usually anxious and feel especially vulnerable. It is of utmost importance that healthcare providers are able to sense the basic needs of every patient and react accordingly. If this sounds like reading minds, you are close! But, it is more about having a strong emotional connection with the patients, and caring deeply and genuinely about every patient and their perceived experience.
4. Using technology to support a culture of service
One of the most important and impressive tools legendary hotels use is a robust CRM system. Before guests arrive to the hotel, all employees are able to review the guest preferences, which may include: floor preferences, favorite food & beverage choices, children names, food allergies, etc. More importantly, however, is a capability to track all feedback and incidents. For example, if a guest had an issue with the room location because of noise, the front office would ensure that the guest is placed in a non-connecting room away from the elevators and pools during his or her next stay. This proactive approach guarantees a flawless experience for the guest, and creates a stronger bond between the guest and the hotel brand.
Similarly, hospitals can leverage such technology to gather information about patients and use that information to create unique patient experiences. Information like food and medicine allergies, previous treatment complications, and provider preference could dramatically impact the patient experience.
Adopting the aforementioned best practices can set healthcare organizations apart from competition, improve brand recognition, and create a culture of service excellence. More importantly, committing to service excellence creates an environment where executives and employees are able to collaborate and continuously innovate and improve other facets of the healthcare organization.