Customer Bliss's Jeanne Bliss: Do You Trust Your Customers?
Trust is reciprocated by customers in referrals, word of mouth, and repeat business. Consider, as an example, Griffin Hospital. Entrusting patients with their own records grew patients' belief in the hospital and contributed to its growth.
Griffin Hospital wanted to have no secrets between itself and its patient "customers." The traditional approach of doctors or medical professionals delivering only select information often left patients and family members feeling that they weren't in control. It put the customer out of power and the medical professional in power. Griffin wanted to balance out that lopsided relationship. It wanted to create a hospital/patient/family partnership. So the leadership team decided to make medical records available to patients and their families.
Through the gesture of making records available to patients, Griffin showed that managing the journey to health was an equal partnership between itself and its patients and their families. The hospital's leadership team wanted to mend years of a perceived imbalanced relationship, so Griffin made the total transparency of patient medical records an olive branch. Anything the hospital knew, the patient and family could know. In doing so, Griffin Hospital patients could spend all the time they wanted with their records, have them explained, and consider them their "own." They could even make comments on their own charts.
The result: Patients and families fell into partnership with the medical staff, so malpractice suits declined. Worried doctors feared that patients armed with this information would fuel an increase in lawsuits. The total opposite occurred. After Griffin Hospital granted patients and their families access to their medical records, malpractice claims against the hospital dropped by more than 43 percent--from 32 percent in 1996, before the policy was enacted, to 18 percent in 2005. It's noteworthy to add that this reduction in claims dropped during a period of great growth for Griffin Hospital. Patient discharges rose 40 percent during that period, an increase that usually carries an increase in claims. This decision stopped that cycle.
Trusting patients with their own records increased patients' trust in Griffin Hospital, and ultimately contributed to its growth. Griffin earned an 80 percent referral rate from customers who participated in this new decision. Surely there's a simple gesture you can make to show customers you trust them, that you believe that trust is reciprocated.
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