Customer Experience

A state-of-art customer experience considers multiple touch points as a connected whole rather than islands of isolated experience. Many organizations today do a great job managing individual touch points as single moments of truth, but fail to understand their interdependencies. When an organization gets it right, the entire perception of the brand changes based upon that experience and the business excels in both growth and revenue.


My family recently had many interactions with the healthcare system. My mom was in and out of the hospital twice in a six-week period and my sister had major surgery during the same time frame. They were both treated at different hospitals of the same health system, NorthShore University HealthSystem. Our situation was one of those Keystone Cops adventures where one person was admitted, and on the day of her discharge, the other was admitted. Then, when she was discharged, the other was re-admitted for a new medical challenge. So our experience with the institution was highly intensified over a short period of time.


One of the best parts of any encounter with NorthShore is their early adoption of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and its integration system-wide. This offers all caregivers—including primary care docs, specialists, nursing staff, technicians, pharmacists and others—a centralized view of the full continuum of care and real-time access to test results, current meds and other vital information. This system operationalizes an important part of the patient experience and eliminates the need for multiple registrations, claims submissions and the redundant sharing of patient history. This is particularly great for those with chronic diseases who need multiple visits to a mix of physicians.


The real “wow,” however, was the full immersion of the staff in delivering the best experience, often under highly emotional and challenging circumstances. Everyone from the orderlies and janitorial staff to the nurses, physicians and technicians were compassionate, kind and caring. Case in point: I asked a janitor if he knew where a certain department was located. He pushed his mop bucket into an alcove and escorted me to my destination. While en route, he explained it was difficult to find, so a guide was best. He also expressed concern for my family and said he hoped all went well and that he would pray for us. That sentiment was expressed over and over again from almost everyone we met. This experience was repeated at both hospitals across all touch points. It was obvious that this was an institution that operationalized the experience through recruitment attributes and great training.


Contrast this to the experience at the rehab center where my mom was sent before she was able to go home. When she arrived, no one oriented her or the family to the facility. They simply told my sister her room number and instructed her to take my mom there. My mom had just been transported there by ambulance, so this was disconcerting at best. No one came to the room; we had to figure out the schedule and rhythms of the place ourselves, chase after them for prescribed treatments and meds, and so on. With a few exceptions, the floor staff was surly and indifferent. They were unwilling to answer questions or help find the person that could. The culture was one of, “It’s not my job and I’m not going to help you figure out anything outside of my responsibilities.”


Unfortunately, this is an industry that has few review sites or ways to interact with former patients and staff. As the population ages, bringing social tools to the decision journey for these short-and long-term health facilities is vital. The caregivers and influencers of these decisions are highly social and accustomed to using review sites for a wide variety of purchases. This type of purchase requires peer-to-peer interaction to balance the marketing hype in branded content. The rehab facility described here boasted in its glossy brochure: prepare to be pampered! We would have been happy with basic care.


The interesting thing to me is how we went from a wonderful hospital experience to a sub-par rehab stay. The social worker of the hospital recommended the facility to our family. This seems to be a missing part of the highly operationalized experience that the health system offered at its “owned” touch points. Why didn’t they visit these facilities or interview patients that they released there from the hospital? The hospital staff is a big influencer in this decision and the information was lacking to make sure that their brand was not denigrated by the experience in a facility that they highly recommended. While they cannot control the other organization’s experience, they can make sure those facilities that they recommend at the very least share a culture of caring and commitment to great outcomes.

Kathy Baughman

Kathy’s forte is enterprise content strategy, content marketing and thought leadership. Over the past 35 years, she has worked with both emerging brands and large enterprises in developing content and thought leadership strategies. Kathy has the ability to analyze a client’s current approach and offer unique, fresh perspective that leads to innovation and growth. She has written several research reports, white papers and eBooks including Content Supply ChainThe CMO’s Guide to PersonalizationThe Alchemy of Content andTaming the Content Vortex. Kathy is a key contributor to Forbes Publish or Perish Report.

Showing 2 comments
  • Jacob Hurwith

    Hi Kathy,

    Great article. Sadly, it seems the rehab business forgot the golden rule of WOMM. If businesses focus on creating an outstanding experience, people will talk about it. Seem like the hospital understood that, but the rehab facility did not.

    Sorry to hear about the family. Hope they are all doing better.

    We sent his post along to out friends at HealthTalker – They love this stuff.

  • Jared Alessandroni

    My father owned/ran nursing homes and rehabs, and I remember him over and over again lamenting the difference between working and caring. In his staff, in his doctors, and even in the hospitals that he worked with, there were those who worked and those who WORKED because they cared. No company, in healthcare or anywhere, is great when it’s people area just good enough.

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