Does anyone know what you do for a living?

Posted on September 21, 2011

mikem3_biggerBy: Mike Milligan, President, Legato Marketing & Communications

I give up.

My Dad still doesn't know how I earn a paycheck. But he is getting a little
closer.  I've recently heard him explain, "Michael does those ads for hospitals."

Then last night, when editing my 15-year-old daughter's Language Arts paper, I discovered that she, too, doesn't understand "what Dad does." Within parenthesis she had written, "Dad, write here what you do."

It made me start thinking about what many of our healthcare marketing clients face. There seems to be a trend in which senior management isn't necessarily knowledgeable about what marketing pros do. In their minds (not all), the marketing department develops clever advertising, period. It's not the fault of upper management that they don't always understand marketing's role. While It might be hard to swallow, quite frankly, it's the fault of marketing to not make its role clear-its ability to increase patient volumes and profit.

Your leadership team might know your job description: produce the external and internal communications. But, don't let yourself be limited by that vague description. Your role is much broader than that. Marketing pros are the drivers behind understanding the marketplace, the organization's culture, available opportunities, and what targeted audiences expect with the goal of increasing awareness, patient volumes, and profits.

That means looking at all of the elements of what brand is. It's everything from how employees answer the phones, what the signage looks like, how patients are treated at the front desk, how long it takes to get an appointment-every action, every experience a patient has is your brand.

And here's the kicker. Don't just talk about it, show the connection between all of these factors and the results they can have-or have had-on the organization. And don't just identify problems, bring solutions. Show you are a problem solver-and a strategist-by thinking about what questions your senior leaders will have, and have answers ready. Show your leadership skills. By doing so, you educate others on the value of marketing-not by preaching-by doing.

My years of healthcare management experience have shown that as time goes on, your CEO and other leaders will have a completely new perspective on marketing.  Sure, advertising still will play a clear role.  But more important, marketing is so much broader.  It's strategic.  It examines all the components of the sales process.  It identifies barriers and overcomes them. It produces results. And that's something your leadership team will understand clearly.

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Employee Alignment with Leadership Philosophy = Great Customer Service

Posted on September 29, 2011

JohnCorpusHead6By: John A. Corpus, Vice President Client Services, Legato Marketing & Communications.

New to the Legato team, I thought that I would write my first blog about connectivity in a healthcare organization: leadership being connected to the employees; employees connecting their responsibilities back to the organization's overall mission/objectives; messages/campaigns/marketing being connected across departments and the system.

Having worked for a few Wisconsin healthcare entities over the last thirty-two years, I feel safe in stating that the healthcare environment is always evolving, each time in a more complicated manner.  Every few years, it seems that healthcare organizations are updating their missions/visions to ensure that they balance this change and properly reflect the nature of the organizations' objectives and philosophy.

Unfortunately, there is a natural lag between "talking the talk" and "walking the talk" in every organization I have served in.  Now, the organizations that I am talking about are 1,000+ employees each in size, to which one might deem a lag as acceptable, but it is never a good thing to say one thing (as an organization) and do another.   And, those doing the saying are "leadership", whereas the employees execute the "doing."

Healthcare is a service industry: customer service is our main measure (patient satisfaction surveys). Sure, we look at outcomes and measures around varying procedures and for quality purposes, but success really comes down to how the patient FEELS about the healthcare organization.

My wife and I recently took our daughter into a retail clinic (nurse practitioner or physician's assistant providing acute/episodic assessment and treatment in a retail setting) at noon on a Sunday.  The promise is "no wait, no appointment," but what I found was one location with a one-hour wait, and a second location that refused to see my daughter, even though my wife called the triage line to verify the appropriateness of the visit.  The provider went so far as to grab a menu of services and point-out the line that indicates she would not see my daughter!

My wife called the triage line to voice our dissatisfaction.  The nurse on the triage line did not apologize, but did say that we could schedule an appointment with our doctor for the next day OR VISIT its competitor's retail clinic.  And, we had to call back to a different number to schedule.

In calling to schedule the appointment, we were transferred twice to "scheduling for surgery."  On the third transfer back, my wife finally reached a nurse who informed us that the ER has an urgent care service for kids each day starting in the late afternoon into the late evening.  The nurse listened to my wife's reiteration of all that happened, apologized, and made an appointment for my daughter later that afternoon.  Everything was smooth sailing and excellent service from this point on.

In telling you this story, what is my message regarding this healthcare organization's customer service?  Is the organization connected in its customer service message?  Imagine that I am a close friend, neighbor, or relative telling you this story: how will my telling of the story influence
your healthcare buying decisions?

The best ambassadors and representatives of your healthcare organization are your employees, especially those with patient/customer contact on a daily basis.  These employees will demonstrate the organization's message in their service, but only to the extent and direct correlation of time and effort  - or lack thereof - spent on communicating, training, and aligning/connecting responsibilities and tasks with the organization's objectives.

Some final thoughts:

  • As a C-level executive in your healthcare organization, are you confident that your employees are demonstrating your philosophy in their daily activities, especially when engaging patients/customers?
  • Is middle-management aligning its areas of responsibility with the organization's philosophy?
  • Does middle-management translate the formal language of leadership's philosophy into terms that the employees can understand?  The better the translation, the clearer the message, the more likely that patients/customers will walk away with a smile on their face.

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