Take Customer Perception Seriously

While I was in college and before I joined Snapp Conner PR, I worked at a local Utah hospital. My coworkers were doctors, nurses, and surgical technicians who were all very good at their jobs. Every quarter we were assessed on our job performance based on what the patients thought of their experience during the procedures. These assessments were called Patient’s Perception of Quality reports or PPQs.

Each quarter during my first year and a half at the hospital our department’s PPQs would come back poor. This was odd because our department’s numerical data, that wasn’t opinion-based, was among the highest rated in the state.

Whenever we would go over the PPQs in staff meeting the entire staff would complain about outside factors that were contributing to the low results. All of the staff members felt that the quantitative data was much more important to the hospital than the qualitative data.

But was this really true from the hospital’s viewpoint? We weren’t killing anybody and people were going home in better condition from our department than other like departments in hospitals around the state. So we were doing our jobs exactly as we should have, right?

Luckily for our department we figured out that we weren’t doing everything as we were supposed to be. Our patients’ opinions of how we were doing our jobs were just as important to the hospital as how well we were actually doing our jobs. A hospital is a business after all and a business gets return customers based on their prior experiences.

Even though there were things that we couldn’t control in regards to patient perception, as a team we though of some things that we could do. We figured out that wait time was the most important thing to our patients that didn’t directly affect their health. Making an adjustment there, among other places, directly increased the ratings that we got on our PPQs.

One could easily make the argument that a person’s perception is much more important than the reality of the situation. Without getting too philosophical, the way a customer sees truth may be much more critical to the success of a business than the actual truth, especially when it come it comes to the way they are being served or treated.

As we focus on building defend-able brands, we should always put our focus on the way the customer feels and not let our pride get in the way of how well we think we are treating them.