Moving from Delivering a Service to Presenting an Experience

March 16, 2020

// By Diane S. Hopkins //

Diane S. HopkinsHealth care leaders spend time designing spaces and assembling experts, but not as much time designing a comprehensive patient experience strategy that prepares the entire workforce for a common level of behavior.

Reliable high patient satisfaction is the desire of every health care leader, yet achieving this aspiration is a struggle for most. There’s no magic wand to wave over an organization to ensure that care will be exceptional every day for every patient.

There are many reasons health care providers face volatile patient satisfaction scores, but one of the most influential issues is when “health caring” is seen as simply a service. Applying a limited customer service framework to patient satisfaction was a novel idea 30 years ago. Now it can be a barrier to exceptional caring.

Health care is one of the most experiential offerings of all industries, and shifting our operational frameworks from delivering a service to presenting an experience is an important step toward reliability. Varying levels of service are delivered as part of an overall experience. The words “service” and “experience” are often used interchangeably, yet there are some important differences. A summary of various definitions offers a glimpse of these differences:

  • Service — assistance or help, or to receive for some advantage
  • Experience — an encounter; to undergo or feel, to go or live through

Taking the time to reimagine patient satisfaction as an overall experience strategy with points of service within the experience can expand the concept of what needs to be done.

The most common sticking point is that organizations tend to take ownership of creating and delivering the service (diagnosis, treatment, guidance) and think the customer is the owner of what they experience (how they feel, comply, participate).

This small change in perspective can have a huge impact on long-term effectiveness and ultimately customer satisfaction. Bruce Jones of the Disney Institute says in his blog, “While no one owns the guest at Disney, someone, in every case, owns the moment.” This concept of consistent ownership of the needs and desires of each patient is the foundation of a customer experience strategy.


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