Skip to Main Content

Episode 8:
Measuring Customer Service

On this edition of Just Checking In, industry expert Alan Ayers discusses how you can measure your customer service performance.

Just Checking In - Episode 8 - Measuring Customer Service

Measuring customer service in urgent care… next on Just Checking In!

Good afternoon I am Alan Ayers and I am just checking in from the beautiful Gaylord Palms resort in Kissimmee, Florida, which is currently hosting the 2016 National Urgent Care Convention. The topic I want to speak to you about is measuring customer service, or the patient experience, in urgent care. It’s not exactly what you would think it would be…Now when we talk about customer satisfaction in urgent care, ultimately what we are getting at is the willingness of patients to return to the center whenever they have a future urgent care need. Not only that but also to tell friends and family to do likewise. If you think about it an investment in customer service is really an investment in marketing. A patient who is dissatisfied not only will not return to the center themselves they will probably tell others to avoid your place. They may post negative feedback on social media. When that occurs that means you are going to have to spend marketing dollars to go find some new person off the street who may not understand what urgent care is may not need urgent care. But regardless it is always cheaper and more efficient to keep your existing patient happy than to create a fan out of an entirely new patient. So any successful service business—whether it is a beautiful resort or a dry cleaning store or an airline or a hotel— they are really successful long term to the extent that they cultivate loyal customers and spur positive word of mouth.

Now cultivating a loyal customer in urgent care… that’s not really my focus today but we know those factors: It’s controlling wait times, it is having friendly staff, it’s having engaged providers, it’s having strong medical outcomes. It’s basically making sure that the patients need is met but not just meeting the patients need. That’s satisfaction. If I were to ask, “Are you satisfied with an experience?” I’m sure you, like me, have had many experiences with service businesses where it was satisfactory, your need was met. Are you excited about it? Are you going to go back? Probably not, but am I satisfied? Yeah, I’m satisfied. Really that customer satisfaction is not what we are looking to measure. Instead what we are looking to measure is the patient’s likelihood to refer the center to friends and family. So when asking a question on a patient experience survey there’s really only one question that matters and that question is, “Based on today’s visit how likely are you to recommend this urgent care center to friends and family in the future?”

And so on a scale of 0-10, and the scale needs to start with 0 and not 1 because some patients may think 1 is the highest, on a scale of 0-10 with 0 being highly unlikely and 10 being very likely, how likely are you to recommend this center to friends and family? Research done by Doctor Fred Reichheld and there’s a book I would recommend it’s called “The Ultimate Question 2.0… It explains this methodology. This question has been proven scientifically or academically to be the No. 1 predictor of both repeat visits and long-term profitability for companies. Now, using this score you can compute what is called the Net Promoter Score. So a promoter is an evangelist for your business. They’re somebody who is a fan. They love your urgent care. Every opportunity they get they are going to tell someone: “I went to such and such urgent care, I had this great experience. You need to go there too.” That individual is doing your marketing for you. So, on the scale of 0-10 a promoter would be a 9 or a 10. After the promoter we have people who are neutral. And those would be your 7’s and 8’s. 7 and 8’s may be satisfied so if you ask how satisfied were you with today’s visit they may give a 10. How likely are they to recommend? A 7 or 8, that means the behavior of that patient, if given another option, they may or may not choose your center in the future. That means they are fairly lukewarm. And then anybody who would respond with a 0-6 would be considered a detractor. Detractors and particularly those on the low end of the scale are actually enemies of your center. They are dissatisfied. They don’t like you. They will bad mouth you on social media. And they’ll tell others to avoid your center. Clearly when looking at this scale you want more promoters. Where you have neutrals you want to convert those neutrals to promoters. And where you have detractors you may not be able to turn your detractors into promoters but at least you can neutralize them.

Now the significance of this scale is in order to compute net promoter score. What you do is you take the percentage of your responders who are promoters. The 9’s and 10’s and you throw out the neutrals and you subtract the percentage of your respondents who are detractors. The net of that is net promoter. This is out of your survey population, “What is the percentage of your patients who are likely to refer to friends and family, the net of promoters over detractors. Having promoters is significant. They will do your marketing for you. They’ll return. The issue with detractors is if over time you don’t have promoters you are going to have to spend marketing dollars to have to go find new patients off the street. The challenge with that is that over time if you have enough detractors you may exhaust available patients, and that’s where you see restaurants and other service businesses eventually go under. They just exhaust the number of people they can bring in and offer a negative experience. So when measuring customer service the point is there is one question that matters. That question is: How likely are you… or based on today’s visit to again differentiate so it will help you remember over time… “Based on today’s visit how likely are you to refer this urgent care center to your friends and family?”

With a net promoter score… there are companies nationally that promote their net promoter scores. So as an urgent care center you have a net promoter score of let’s say 70, you are able to then look and see how that number compares to other nationally known customer service companies. Available on the internet you can find the net promoter scores of such well-known brands as Costco, USAA, Southwest Airlines and it will give you some gauge of how you measure related to benchmarks. So the ability to benchmark is another advantage of using net promoter. So if you’re looking for additional ideas on how to improve customer service in your urgent care center, how to drive additional volume into your urgent care center or any other question related to urgent care. Please do not hesitate to contact us here at Practice Velocity. Again this is Alan Ayers and I am just checking in from the beautiful Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee Florida. Thank you!

Sign Up for the Urgent Care Minute

Join over 20,000 healthcare professionals who receive our monthly newsletter.