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Why Being Customer-Centric is the Only Best Practice that Matters

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By Jackie Larson, President, Avantas

LarsonJackie_2017There is an endless stream of solutions to make your organization leaner, smarter, and faster. There’s always someone trying to sell you the latest tech to keep you competing against the big players. Top industry thought leaders (authentic and devised) are quick to offer their best practices to get your organization where you want it to be. There’s certainly value in the expertise they share.

But here’s a little secret: Being customer-centric is the only best practice that matters.

We love geeking out and talking tech and data science. We could talk all day about predictive analytics and right-sized staffing. But the undercurrent of our teaching – the basis of why we do what we do – is to be the best partner for our customers. Have we been perfect at it? No. We’ve gotten lost in the weeds on occasion. But with every fail, there’s a lesson learned.

And a lesson we’ve learned on our journey is that you will never get ahead if you don’t prioritize your customer. You can’t be customer-centric (at least not good at it) without empathy. In a time when there’s a continual push into the digital age and eyes locked on screens, many are left to wonder what the impact technological advancements will have on humanity. Will people be less empathetic because of our reliance on machines and decreased human connection?

More than understanding another person’s circumstances, empathy allows us to experience what they are feeling. Being in tune with other people’s emotions is a noteworthy skill. Empathetic leaders fair far better with their employees than those who lack empathy, so shouldn’t that apply to organizations and their customers as well?

No matter what industry you are in, if your focus isn’t on the customer, you will quickly find yourself struggling to be innovative and grow. There’s a term I’ve heard called B2H: Business to Human. Aren’t all businesses really business to human? Avantas is a B2B company because we sell our products and services to other businesses (healthcare provider organizations), but it is people who use it. An organization should foster a human-centered approach that focuses on the needs of their customers. Putting customer empathy at the focal point of your thinking, an organization is able to expand its capacity to experience what a customer is feeling, allowing people to be receptive to and proactive about the customer’s wants and needs.

Today’s world is all about the customer experience. Consumers are educated and in touch with all options that are available to them. An organization’s goal should be for their customers to have a positive experience with their product, services, and any interactions they have with employees. Companies that lead with empathy to understand their customers and make a concerted effort to apply these insights to every aspect of their business are going to build their credibility and loyalty, and grow their business.

We love data and the insights they glean. Technological advancements have changed the way we gather and analyze data. But what good is this data? What can you do with it and because of it? Without understanding what the data is telling you and what actions you should take to improve, data is just a collection of numbers sitting impressively idle.

Looking at data through an empathetic lens allows us to see how our strategies and solutions really impact our customers. What can we do for them and help them achieve because of what we know? Getting a sense of what issues are plaguing our customers, we can unpack the data and use it to create solutions unique to their organization. By listening with an empathetic ear, we are able to better meet their needs. If you desire innovation and growth, just listen to your customer.

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