Case Study: Achieving customer-centricity in Aged Care.

Nurse giving glass of water to elderly woman in wheelchair at retirement home. Assisting senior people

What does customer centricity look like in the aged care context?

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has highlighted the failures of the sector to meet customer expectations.

Research into customer centricity in aged care has shown a link between customer experience and positive clinical outcomes. This research has also shown that customer satisfaction is a great indicator of the quality of aged care services.

According to both the New Zealand and Australian  Health Quality and Safety Commission – Customer Centricity also improves:

  • The overall experiences of older individuals.
  • Strengthens partnerships with customers and,
  • Customer / family-centred care has been linked to positive health, clinical, financial, service and satisfaction outcomes.

Alternatively, from an employee perspective, a customer-centric culture can also lead to improvements in staff morale and increased job satisfaction.

In recent years the Australian Government recognised the importance of customer experience in aged care facilities, which lead to the introduction of aged care quality measures and broad-reaching legislative changes which clearly state its intent to deliver a customer-centric agenda

However, The Royal Commission has continued to demonstrate that many providers are still falling short of customer expectations. Further acknowledging that service providers need to be doing more than just making the promise to their customers – they need to actively keep that promise by showing action in aligning it to the experience their customers want and expect.

The balance between quality, safety, and customer expectations: Three key questions for providers.

It is common for providers to say that focussing on and measuring customer experience is “too subjective or mood-oriented, separated from the ‘real’ clinical work – “of safety and effectiveness”. This was distinctively highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic where safety was prioritised above all other considerations, such as social connection.

While the focus was understandably on safety and compliance to curb the spread of the virus and maintaining the physical health of some of our most vulnerable people in society, it is still possible to do more. For most providers, measures such as the restriction of visitors and limiting group activities were introduced along with rigorous infection control procedures and, while those measures delivered many benefits, they created inadvertent consequences and resulted in immensely negative experiences for many of our elderly and their families.

To balance quality and safety with positive experiences for customers and their families, providers should be asking themselves three key questions:

  1. Who are our customers?
  2. What does customer-centricity mean for our organisation in the context of aged care?
  3. How do we know how customer-centric our organisation is?

Who are our customers?

Recipients of aged care services are not customers in a traditional sense.

The notion of a customer is often associated with the ‘end user’ — the person for whom the service is designed. However, when it comes to selecting a provider, in many instances, families are the primary decision-makers. Therefore, it is imperative that aged care providers consider both the consumer and their families or representatives as their customers.

“Developing a deep understanding of each customer and their respective needs, wants and expectations is the first step towards becoming truly customer-centric”

What does customer-centricity mean in the aged care context?

The Royal Commission has reinforced the need for proactive, customer-centric initiatives across the aged care sector.

Over a decade of global research has shown that every outstanding customer relationship has a universal set of qualities – The Six Pillars of Experience Excellence.

These Pillars are inseparably intertwined and, in combination, provide a powerful mechanism to help organisations understand how well their customer experience is being delivered. Most leading organisations will demonstrate mastery in all Six Pillars.

However, we have also found that many aged care providers will assert that the care they deliver already encompasses all six Pillars, however, the Royal Commission has highlighted that this is simply not the case.

Robust analysis involving direct feedback from your customers is vital to assess the customer-centricity of your organisation. By reflecting on the strengths and shortcomings of customers’ experiences, aged care providers will be able to clearly define a strategy through proactive and measurable initiatives.

  1. Personalisation: using individualised attention to drive an emotional connection.
  2. Integrity: being trustworthy and engendering trust.
  3. Expectations: minimising customer effort and creating frictionless processes.
  4. Resolution: turning a disappointing experience into a great one.
  5. Time & effort: managing, meeting and exceeding customer expectations.
  6. Empathy: understanding the customer’s circumstances to drive deep rapport. 

How customer-centric is your organisation?

The journey to becoming a customer-centric organisation is not quick or easy.

Any action that promotes customer-centricity can have a profound impact on both customers and business outcomes, which will differentiate providers in a crowded market and provide a strong competitive advantage.

In a customer-centric organisation, everyone is striving towards the same shared goal: making the customer experience exemplary. With the customer at the heart of their culture, these organisations do everything to simplify processes, empower employees and deliver on their customers’ promises. A customer-centric organisation has the following core elements:

1. A clearly defined customer vision aligned with other long-term strategies, such as digital and technology strategies.

2. A customer strategy to transform the customer experience and deliver an exceptional customer journey. 

3. Robust processes to collect customer feedback across a broad range of factors. The organisation views feedback as an opportunity to exceed the customer’s expectations and translate feedback into action.

4. Clear customer experience metrics that support organisational objectives. Customer experience measures are regularly reviewed and viewed as importantly as financial performance data.

5. Each channel or touchpoint across the customer journey is designed to minimise the amount of customer effort. Employees are empowered and trained to resolve problems at their source.

6. Leadership focus on customer experience and strongly encourages all grades of employees to achieve customer goals and objectives. All members of senior management display a strong customer-centric focus and lead the charge for customer advocacy.

7. Delivering customer experience excellence is embedded into the culture at all employee levels. Organisational change to improve customer experience is everyone’s responsibility but there is clear accountability for delivery.

Ultimately a truly customer-centric organisation considers its customers to be critically important to the success of the business, regarding this success to be driven by its ability to fulfil and exceed the needs of customers.

How can we help you?

HOED Research has been working with the aged care sector for the past 15 years and has developed expertise in building experience feedback surveys and outcomes on behalf of many of the brands involved in this sector. Each survey is customised to recognise the specific aged care facility and its individual offering, thus enabling an absolute drill down into service delivery and other issues that impact the facility customer.

We work directly with you to establish and build the program beginning with a simple online Teams meeting, followed by a physical meeting to better understand your requirements. An indicative cost proposal is submitted for your consideration before progressing any further. Get in touch today with the team at HOED Research who will be happy to assist you.