I was recently fortunate enough to visit two Ritz-Carlton Hotels in the span of a few weeks followed by another premium hotel which I will refer to as Hotel B. If you have ever stayed at a Ritz, the following will come as no surprise, but they seem to read your mind at times. Sure, you are always greeted with a smile at any hotel and offered help with luggage or directions. What I’m referring to is how they anticipate your needs either through past experience or more importantly through listening to what you are not saying.
As an example, while departing Hotel B, my car was brought up, bags were put into the car and I was on my merry way. Whereas when leaving the Ritz, my car was brought up, bags were put into the car, but I was then asked where I was headed. I explained I was headed to San Diego while absently loading an address in my cell phone’s GPS app. Before I looked up, the valet had returned with water bottles stating that traffic could be rough this time of day and I might need them. Additionally he saw the route in my GPS, along with my vacation appropriate attire, and made a recommendation for an alternate route if I didn’t mind a more scenic drive with less traffic. It was this anticipation of needs that inspires guest loyalty, and commands a premium.
As I look around in the healthcare technology space, we must do a better job of anticipating our clients’ needs, rather than just reacting to what they are saying to us. The industry is suffering from a lack of satisfaction and companies are having a hard time standing out from the herd. Most are banking on their next big feature to be a differentiator that certainly has a powerful impact if it solves a particular problem. But without a firm understanding of their needs, it’s not going to resonate. Features will also come and go, requirements will morph, and regulations will change— and that’s due to the very nature of software and healthcare as a whole. I would argue, let’s make service the one thing clients can’t live without. Let’s stop simply listening to clients, and instead try to anticipate their needs and offer them solutions to problems they may not have verbalized yet.
After all, the features we offer are only as good as our fundamental understanding of their needs, spoken AND unspoken.