You know what I love about hospitals? The people. You know what I hate about hospitals? Everything else. Seriously, I’ve always viewed hospitals as places where people go to die. I know they’re all about saving lives, which they do quite well, but it’s been hard for me to get past the stigma of brightly-lit, tiled corridors that belie the sad endings behind the doors.
With that said, my outlook has been changed greatly by two major healthcare-related events in my life. First, the birth of my nephew at 23 weeks, five days. His subsequent survival and beautiful life at five years old are an inspiring story, thanks to God and the skilled, caring hands at Stormont Vail hospital in Topeka.
More recently, my wife’s breast cancer diagnosis and surgery at Via Christi Wichita (St. Francis) has provided even more insight into the most important marketing asset a hospital possesses: great customer service.
It’s easy to say, “Sure, they’re nice to you at the hospital. They have to be.” But think about it. You’re not tipping the IV nurse or the radiology technician like a good server at the wine bar. The medical staff already have their money. Most of them are paid well, and the insurance industry has much more to say about their reward than you do.
So, when I took stock of the kind of service we received at Via Christi Wichita, the genuine care and concern, coupled with expertise and professionalism, I realized that no amount of broadcast, print or outdoor advertising can do as much for this hospital’s Wichita marketing image as what happens inside its walls.
Certainly, the experiences in the hospital that are shared with friends, family and coworkers, are the most vital part of Via Christi’s Wichita marketing campaign. And they cost the least. I know I tend to believe a person more when I’m having a conversation with them than when they are up on a billboard.
This firsthand customer service experience also reminds me of the importance of Facebook, twitter and email to spreading the good word about Via Christi’s great service. I tend to think of word of mouth as the best kind of advertising. Until the past few years, the biggest drawback to word of mouth was that it was hard to spread widely. Not anymore. When you have a great customer service experience today, you can post it to Yelp! and broadcast your review to all your Facebook friends. Now, if I’m a small business owner in Wichita, I call that great free advertising. Don’t you?