By Kim Court

As I scrolled through my Twitter feed today I came across this quote:

Don’t ever promise more than you can deliver, but always deliver more than you promise – Lou Holtz

Like me, you’ve probably seen this quote before, but today it reminded me of two things:
1. Delivering more than you promise is one of the secrets to creating a better customer or Patient Experience
2. And this was a lesson I first learned on a camping trip many years ago.


improve patient experienceWhen I was eight, I went on an overnight camping trip with my Girl Scout troop. We hiked and swam, pitched our tents, roasted marshmallows, and told ghost stories. The next morning, as we prepared to leave, each of us was assigned a task. Mine was to walk with the scout leader to collect any trash. Our troop was fairly clean so there were little more than a few plastic wrappings to pick up. As we walked around the site, my leader pointed out some soda bottles and candy wrappers, which I knew did not belong to our troop. She didn’t care, it was still our responsibility to pick it up. We’re Girl Scouts, she said. Our job is to leave the place better than we found it. It’s part of our Girl Scout Promise. We’ll pick up all our trash but we will also pick up other people’s trash.

That lesson of fulfilling our promise and doing more than the basic requirements stuck with me. And, it’s something I teach my kids to this day. (Which is probably why I’m often asked to pull over to the side of the road so my kids can pick up litter using the plastic bag we keep in the car for just such an occasion.)

I share that story and that lesson of fulfilling a promise because I believe it’s a key ingredient to creating a better patient experience.

Every organization has a brand promise (whether you think you have one or not). A brand promise is just that: a promise between the customer and the organization. Not to be confused with a slogan, which is more of a marketing tool, your brand promise is a few words that sum up what you want your customers to experience when they use your product or service. It’s a succinct statement that sums up the essence of your organization. And in order to deliver on this promise, it must be fully integrated and hardwired in every patient interaction — up, down, and across every line of business within that organization.

reach a little higherJake does an exercise in many of his workshops where he asks audience members to reach their arms up as high as they can. Once all the hands are in the air, he asks if they can give it just one more inch, one more stretch. And of course, they all can stretch a little higher. So the question becomes, why didn’t they reach that high the first time?

The fact is, we can all do a little more. The trick is to do it consistently so it becomes hardwired and common practice.

That’s what builds trust and earns loyalty.

In fact, the formula for earning loyalty is simple (it’s just not always easy): loyalty comes from consistently meeting expectations on the business or CLINICAL side (the product or service you offer) while exceeding expectations on the HUMAN side (how you deliver it).

Lou Holtz’s quote is such a great reminder that improving the patient experience is about more than simply checking boxes and doing “your part.” No matter what our job title or job responsibilities, our role is to delight patients and families by reaching a little higher and making every patient interaction memorable.