By John Lavey | Hammock President and COO

How often have we found ourselves sitting in waiting rooms for hours on end for the privilege of spending our own money? Then, after we’ve checked in, we may sit in another cold room in a backless paper gown never knowing what’s going on or what’s taking so long. And if we raise our hand and ask a question, we’re seen as the crazy one. Most of us just accept—and expect—this reality.

In healthcare, we’re so far removed from the norms of a customer-centered experience that sometimes we don’t even realize the absurdity of it. We’ve almost grown immune to the possibility that the situation could be any different. Glenn Tullman, CEO of Livongo, a company that helps patients manage chronic conditions, drove this point home at a recent Nashville healthcare conference.

Once after waiting for his doctor more than a half-hour in a patient room, Tullman peeked out in his paper gown and tried to get someone’s attention. He was quickly escorted back into the room. “You can’t go out there,” a nurse told him.

“It just seems like I’m being ignored,” Tullman replied.

“You aren’t being ignored,” the nurse responded as she walked out and closed the door.

This common scenario creates an opportunity for all providers, marketers and anyone focused on building a patient-centered system. “Acknowledge my reality and the validity of my experience,” customers are saying. “If I’ve been waiting a long time and haven’t been treated well, please don’t make me feel like the crazy one for speaking up. If I don’t understand something, don’t make me feel like an idiot.”

At some point soon—and it will be a swift change once the paradigm shifts—healthcare will operate on a customer-centered system, and you will be required to communicate, serve and market like those operating in any service-based industry.

Takeaway: If you want a trusted relationship with your customer, recognize that most customer experiences rely on how much you acknowledge what’s going on for them and how well you affirm their reality. When you convey a feeling of understanding, people feel less overwhelmed and begin to trust you. If you don’t, your customers and potential customers will never engage with you or develop a brand affinity.

Image Credit | iStock

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