By: John Lavey | Hammock President/COO

When it comes to improving customer service, healthcare providers are looking outside the industry for role models. Whether seeking out the lessons of legendary service providers such as The Ritz-Carlton or Disney, healthcare leaders are looking to learn from the best.

I recently had a conversation with someone in a high-level operations role for one of the leading cancer centers in the United States. The hospital had recently consulted with the famous New York City restaurateur Danny Meyer, who wrote a book about the transformational power of hospitality in business.

Meyer was asked which best practices from the restaurant industry transfer to other industries. Obviously, the challenge of selling a great hamburger is far different (and much easier) than delivering a cancer diagnosis and outlining treatment options.

More than the food itself, Meyer credits hospitality for the success of his restaurants (Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern and Shake Shack, among others). He also draws a distinction between service—which he views as a desirable technique—and hospitality, which he sees as a dialogue with a customer that draws on high levels of emotional intelligence.

In hiring, Meyer evaluates candidates on 49% technical ability and 51% hospitality behavior, which he defines in terms of six emotional skills: kindness and optimism, work ethic, curious intelligence, empathy, self awareness, and integrity.

Meyer gives me a new way of framing the challenge of providing excellent customer service in an age of healthcare consumerization. What does his definition of hospitality mean for you and your health system?

Takeaway: Healthcare professionals in any role, whether clinical, administrative or marketing, would do well to consider the distinction between serving patients and providing hospitality. Communication is more effective when we employ emotional skills to conduct a dialogue tailored to each customer.

Photo | Getty images

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