Reducing Pain Points with Hospitality, Peter Yesawich, PhD, Author of the Book Hospitable Healthcare
There are many lessons to be learned by studying the challenges and best practices of other industries. Certainly, the healthcare industry can benefit greatly by holding itself to the highest standards in hospitality. That’s why hospitality legends Stowe Shoemaker, Ph.D. and Peter Yesawich Ph.D. were called to service in the healthcare field and why they just came out with a new book, Hospitable Healthcare- Just What the Patient Ordered: How Hospitality Can Improve the Patient Experience.
I was honored to interview Peter Yesawich recently for Get Great Guest Reviews, and I hope you will enjoy the book and our conversation.
Please listen to the podcast to hear directly from the author, Peter Yesawich. This post is not a transcript or recap, but rather my thoughts and takeaways from the conversation that I feel will be most helpful to those in Hospitality who wish to inspire five-star reviews from their guests.
There are several reasons why hospitality stars should appreciate this topic.
The subtitle of the book, “Just what the patient ordered” is a clear nod to the same core philosophy that we embrace in the five-star review system which works so well in hotels, restaurants, and beyond. Every business would benefit from embracing feedback, leveraging the voice of the patient/guest/customer to identify pain points, investigate root causes, and collaborate with team members to find opportunities to diminish friction, not only for the person who spoke up but for all future patients/guests/customers. It is the most efficient way to ease employee and guest tensions while building loyalty and the recommendations, referrals, and five-star reviews that come with a stellar reputation. When this happens there is far less dependence on advertising or price dropping to attract new business. Online visibility is elevated, along with the perceived value of the experience. In other words, your services will be considered by more people who will be willing to pay more for higher-quality care.
I come from a family of healthcare professionals and I believe what many healthcare experts report to be true. A better patient experience is a great thing in and of itself, and referrals will soar. But in healthcare, this is not the most important benefit. Better patient outcomes result when a bond of partnership and trust is strong. Trust is built by ensuring every guest/patient feels C.A.R.E. : Cared for, Appreciated, and Respected at Every encounter. When trust is strong, patients are more likely to communicate openly, make consistent follow-up appointments, and follow through on their healthcare providers’ medicinal and lifestyle recommendations. Building trust and open communication is also the key to long-term loyal fans in hospitality service.
I also think that examining the strides and missteps of the healthcare industry in creating a better patient experience gives hospitality professionals a fresh perspective and an opportunity to reflect on how we in hospitality are holding ourselves up to the high standards that others expect to find in hotels, restaurants, and attractions. There is a broad perception that the hospitality industry has raised prices while lowering value in the last few years. We can turn that thinking around by listening and focusing our attention on what matters most to our guests.
On the podcast, Dr. Yesawich shared five of the top pain points that frustrate seriously ill patients in our healthcare system. We in the hospitality industry have the honor to be healers of the world in our own way. We can provide a respite from the grind of everyday life and provide an environment for exploration, self-care, and deepening the bonds between couples, friends, families, and communities. How important is that? So, let’s use this healthcare data perspective to inform how we in hospitality might find opportunities to diminish stress points for our guests and associates.
Top Causes for Patient Dissatisfaction and Adele’s Top Takeaways
#1 Not knowing the price for what you are agreeing to.
This is a huge issue because even the doctors don’t know what the cost could amount to. The same procedure can cost different amounts for different people. In hospitality, we don’t have that same crisis to deal with, but we can impact loyalty and guest satisfaction by making it easier for travelers to understand their pricing options, and the terms and conditions of the purchase, and avoid any fees that guests perceive as hidden. Yes, it is easy to grab a few extra dollars by tacking on a fee, but then you might end up spending more to find new customers when travelers walk away feeling taken advantage of.
#2 Patients do not feel appreciated as customers.
Sure. We have probably all felt at one time or another, as though healthcare providers are doing us a favor and so they don’t need to be nice to us or make life easier for us too. A couple of years ago, I was about to speak to a group of doctors about the Five Star Review System and how to apply that methodology to elevate the patient experience, enhance loyalty, and grow your practice through recommendations, referrals, and five-star reviews. To prepare for the presentation, I asked an online community of thousands of hospitality professionals for their personal observations from their perspectives as patients or as healthcare professionals.
My question was essentially, what problems have they experienced in healthcare and how can the principles of hospitality be applied to diminish these friction points? I immediately received a deluge of heartbreaking stories with expert insights on how a true commitment to hospitality could and should make a powerful difference in healthcare.
From my very informal research, to feel appreciated would be very nice to have, but I saw the same cause of dissatisfaction trending as not feeling respected as The Customer. This shows up to patients as not listening or not looking the patient in the eyes with a sincere openness to understand. It feels to patients as though concerns are dismissed rather than addressed with respect and compassion. The patient, or parent/guardian of the patient wants to be seen as the CEO of their healthcare and the healthcare professional is the consultant whose job is to provide information and options.
Sometimes hospitality team members who don’t receive sufficient nurturing, coaching, and inspiring leadership in their workplace can get caught up in the transactional elements of their jobs instead of focusing on what really matters to building customer loyalty. Our job is to make guests feel welcome and happy they chose us. Be a healer. Really listen to the concerns…don’t educate them on your policies. If your guests feel you are dismissing their concerns, they likely won’t be back, and they might share their feelings with others. Plus their off-putting experience can taint the perception of the whole brand, not just one property.
#3 Can we make the arrival experience less stressful?
Peter talked about hospitals endeavoring to replicate the hotel experience with a warmer welcome, inviting design, enchanting decor, music playing, sometimes live piano, and perhaps even a signature scent for the lobby.
But are we hoteliers always doing our best in this area? How are we welcoming the guests? Does every staff member feel supported, empowered, and inspired to give a warm, generous welcome to every guest? In many, if not most cases, we are not even smiling and saying welcome to the hotel upon arrival, even in the fanciest resorts.
Is everything looking and smelling fresh and inviting? If you look at your lobby during check-in time, would you give it a 10 for warm and welcoming?
How can you collaborate with your team to find ways to take the arrival experience up a notch? Ask everyone on the team to look for opportunities to raise the bar.
#4 Patients want things fast, easy, and convenient.
No surprises there! Just when you feel sick, scared, and worried about your future and even your finances, the last thing you need are issues with logistics. Even for a healthy person, navigating the healthcare system can be excruciatingly difficult to handle.
Sometimes medical office websites seem like they were written by people with no knowledge of the practice, leaving one to search the internet for information from outside sources. Many people turn to recommendations, referrals, and reviews for information, which can be biased due to a lack of volume of recent information.
Are you asking for reviews? Are you inspiring the enthusiasm needed to make people want to review you? Is your operation ignoring the feedback on irritants that detract from the experience you offer before, during, and after the service?
Listen to your customers and make everything as fast and easy as possible.
Even a simple thing like the address given for a doctor’s location can be misleading or completely wrong. Two or three months ago, I had a Zoom meeting with someone from a local hospital and I let them know that a specialty doctor advertised on the hospital website as located on their medical campus near me, and it took six weeks of writing and calling to find out that doctor doesn’t work there. The person was so apologetic. Guess what? Months have passed, and the incorrect information is still on the website.
What information is not available on your website? What are people calling to ask because they can’t find it online? What other websites offer misleading information due to lack of detail? Every time you find an opportunity to communicate better, take action to make changes so people don’t have to call to ask. Also, an ai chat assist can help as long as a human being is also an option. Imagine what level of detail you want to be given to your loved ones, and find a way to provide that same level of helpfulness to your guests.
Another doctor’s office sent me the wrong auto-reply to a form I filled. I actually had to get in my car and go to the office in person to make an appointment because calling, emailing, and filling out forms did not help. When I explained the situation, I expected that the person would take the information I was sharing with her and commit to having it taken care of immediately, so it would not impact more patients. Instead, the person at the desk said, “Oh, that’s okay. I can help you now. We don’t have anyone who can update our emails.”
It is only okay if you are fine with losing customers. Not just the customer you have, but also the future potential customers you won’t earn because of a tarnished reputation. It is only okay to continue the careless service if that’s the kind of story you want your customers/guests/patients to share with their neighbors and the world online. It is only okay if you don’t mind when someone looks you up on the internet, this is how you want to be known. Even if you have so much demand now, you are not worried about reviews, the day may come when the market demand has shifted, and all those negative reviews you could have avoided are still living on the internet for the long term.
Think of what you want people to say about yourself and your business, and endeavor to be the kind of business that inspires that kind of review every time.
#5 Failure in Service Recovery
If we are being honest, stories similar happen at our businesses too. But we don’t have to be that business that ignores day-to-day insights from our customers. When we only look at major trends periodically, we are in fact choosing to undermine our guest experience, our relationship with our customers, and our long-term reputation.
Instead, we can embrace continuous improvement, and move to solve problems as they occur. We can keep our customers by supporting, training, empowering, and inspiring our team to leap on opportunities to not just hear the problem and supply the needed help.
Let's commit ourselves to working with our team members to close the loop by fixing the issue for all the guests/patients/or customers to follow. This will lead the way to better experiences for both the givers and receivers of the service, with more understanding, and personalized treatment, better outcomes, leading to more five-star reviews with every step on our journey as we reach five stars.
Thank you so much for following Get Great Guest Reviews!
If you need assistance in implementing a Reputation Optimization Program at your hotel, healthcare service, or business, please let me know. I would be delighted to join you for a strategy call.
Thank you to Peter Yesawich for sharing your expertise! You can find his new book, Hospitable Healthcare on Amazon or on https://hospitablehealthcare.com/
Thank you so much to our sponsor Guest Chat.
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Have a great week and keep reaching for the Stars!