Become a Provider of Choice: Shift Your Focus to Customer Experiences

Griffin Hospital earns customer loyalty, and accolades, by creating customer experiences. Griffin Hospital’s efforts to understand the lives of patients and their families has earned them extreme customer loyalty. Their goal was to imagine what it would be like to be the patient so they could improve the experience for both patients and their families. But Griffin Hospital hadn’t always received this type of accolade.

baby grand piano

Back in 1982, Griffin Hospital was very far from enjoying extreme loyalty. At that time, one-third of the local community named Griffin as the hospital they would avoid if they could. That rude awakening pushed them to rethink their purpose and literally everything they did. The hospital wanted to create an experience to remember.

Music in the Parking Lot and a Piano in the Lobby

Being told that it was avoided whenever possible pushed Griffin to rethink the purpose for their hospital, physicians, and caregivers. Their goal was to become the hospital of choice in the community. Griffin knew that if “choice” was the goal, then they had to readjust their purpose; they needed to move from being healthcare providers to being service providers.

Griffin had to stop executing required tasks and determine what experience they would deliver, what patient and family emotions were involved. They found that the emotional journey of going to the hospital begins in the parking lot. So Griffin provides free valet parking and concierge services. Music in the parking lot and lobby welcomes visitors and takes away the sterile “hospital” feeling.

Says Bill Powanda, Griffin Hospital vice president:

It doesn’t matter if you have the shortest emergency room wait times around and deliver the greatest care in the nation; if parking is a nightmare, your patients won’t be completely satisfied.”

Griffin Hospital Enjoys a 99 Percent Recommendation Rate

Understanding the customer emotions involved in “coming and going” from a hospital visit prompted actions that made Griffin stand out. Those bookend experiences are part of the magnet that pulls people back to Griffin. No longer considered the “black sheep” hospital of the community, Griffin grows through customer referrals. Inpatient admissions grew 28 percent from 1997 to 2009, compared with a state average growth rate of 10 percent. And outpatient services grew 92 percent from 1998 to 2009.

Griffin Hospital has become the hospital of choice not only for their community, but for surrounding communities as well. One-third of Griffin Hospital’s customers come from outside of the community where it’s located. Ten percent of administrators of U.S. hospitals want to visit Griffin Hospital to learn from them.

Do you think about how you punctuate your moments of connection with customers? First impressions last the longest. Is yours purposeful? Does it create the ideal first opinion of your business?

What Are Your Customer Experience Bookends?

Griffin Hospital decided to eliminate the fear of hospital visits with music in their parking lots and a concierge in their lobby. The memory of these “experience bookends” bonds visitors to them. Ask yourself:

  • Do you have a purposeful beginning and ending to moments of customer contact?
  • Are you creating memories or just executing tasks?
  • How would you rate your intent and ability to create purposeful moments of customer contact?
  • How would your customers say you are doing?
  • Do customers rave about a memorable experience?
  • What are the marquee moments in your customers’ experiences with you?
  • Do your decisions for creating memorable bookends earn you “beloved” status today?

Jeanne Bliss Jeanne Bliss is the founder of CustomerBLISS; a consulting and coaching company helping corporations connect their efforts to yield improved customer growth. Her best-selling books are; Chief Customer Officer: Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate Action and I Love You More than My Dog: Five Decisions for Extreme Customer Loyalty in Good Times and Bad.

6 Reactions
  1. Very well said. I talk to my client about touch points – every point you touch your customer. That is what will differentiate your organization or business from others!

  2. I always appreciate coming across these types of articles. Business, as with everything else in life, is about relationships. Focus on the people you’re serving, seeking to improve their lives, and you should see repeat customers.

    Gotta admit. I was surprised to see a hospital realize this. For a “care” industry, hospitals feel like some of the coldest places on earth. Enjoyed your article.


  3. Rhonda!
    Thanks for such great feedback. Quite an honor to receive it – coming from you! Hope you are prosperous!

  4. Denise,
    These actions are truly what set them apart. I agree that the irony in health”care” seems to be lost on the profession. Some forward thinkers are starting to step up and make the changes needed. Improving lives — makes such a difference. Memory creation is the currency of every brand – yet people forget to hire “memory makers.”

  5. It really is all about service. Of course delivery of your product (in this case health care) is important, but if customers struggle with the service aspect from all levels – from finding a parking spot to leaving – then a company can have customer loyalty issues. For example, there is a grocery store I try not to go to even though I prefer many of their products – why? Because the parking is so terrible it stresses me out even before getting there.

  6. Well, I believe all business are in the ‘service business’ as the hospital realized. We have to service our clients right, in order for them to come back or recommend to others. Word of mouth (specially in the town’s hospital) can be very detrimental or very beneficial. I am glad they found out what they were lacking of and made some serious adjustments to come back with 99% recomendation rate.
    Like Henry Ford said: Employees’ salaries get paid by the customer, the company only ‘handles’ the money!
    We must remember that…
    Mark Brundage UOBIM