Every Hospital Should Have a Presidential Hotline

Staples Office of PresidentA colleague told us about his recent stop at a nearby Staples store for office supplies. One unique thing was attention getting. Taking a page from the retail giant, it would be easy for every hospital to have a “presidential hotline” to optimize feedback and the patient experience.

Here’s the quick backstory. Our friend’s shopping experience was brief. The employees were, as usual, courteous and helpful. Uniquely, however, among the “take one” employee business cards was a bold Office of the President card with a toll-free phone 800-number.

There were no additional instructions, just a business card, phone number and the open-door opportunity for anyone to phone Staples “Office of the President.” It turns out that any customer, or any employee, for that matter, can call the direct line and offer a comment, a criticism, a complaint, or a compliment. Is this a useful idea for hospital facilities?

Many folks in the hospital industry tell us that the HCAHPS survey is not a perfect snapshot of patient experience. Nevertheless, it’s the basic barometer and reporting tool for both institutions and patients. Fortunately, many hospitals stretch beyond the 21 patient perspective and rating topics to take the pulse of the public they serve.

If capturing the true and essential “customer” experience is daunting for a hospital, consider that the Staples chain has over 2,000 locations, thousands of customers, 74,000 employees and one “Office of the President” hotline.

OK, this is not a completely original idea, and anyone can talk to the local store manager or call the Staples Customer Care Department. But putting the number (boldly) on a take-one business card is a clever and inexpensive way to highlight a customer service channel. What’s more:

  • It tells customers that Staples cares and wants to hear both the “good” and the “not-so-good”
  • One business card is a direct-touch connection with an individual consumer
  • Having a Presidential Hotline business card provides the customer with a personal sense of individual empowerment
  • There’s a sense of taking the issue (comment or compliment) “to the top,” where it will be heard, acted upon, and/or resolved
  • It plays well with, and supports, the Staples’ slogan, “That was easy”
  • It provides the corporate headquarters with a consumer-direct listening post for the voice of the customer

staples logo easy buttonPerhaps every hospital should have a presidential hotline as an adjunct to existing surveys, HCAHPS reviews and ratings, patient experience officers and other aspects of their community relations efforts.

For more insight on this topic, click through to our podcast and article titled: Service Fanatics: Required Reading for Superior Patient Experience. And let us know what you think. Should every hospital publish and distribute a “straight to the top” hotline phone number? It would be easy to do.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

About Stewart Gandolf, MBA

Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is both the Publisher of PatientExperience.com and the Co-Founder of Healthcare Success. Stewart has written for dozens of leading healthcare publications and spoken at hundreds of venues on a variety of topics including marketing, reputation management and patient experience. Additionally, he has personally consulted for over 1,500 hospitals and practices. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Stewart worked for leading advertising agencies including J. Walter Thompson.

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