Tuesday, April 12, 2011

N-of-8 case study -- “Redefining the Donor Experience”

With blood donations not increasing in years and blood centers looking for new creative methods to attract blood donors, I worked with Fenwal Blood Technologies to facilitate an N-of-8 advisory board with members of the ADRP (Association of Donor Recruitment Professionals).  During the group, we also employed an exercise using the ACTION SHOES® framework to explore six specific areas.

Inspired by Edward de Bono’s thinking-hat metaphor, ACTION SHOES® is a framework for shifting from thinking to action. The need for perfectly appropriate action suggests a need for breaking down action into six different styles, each of which could be developed.
The six ACTION SHOES® are as follows:
  1. Navy formal shoes: Routine and formal procedures.
  2. Brown wingtips: Practicality and pragmatism.
  3. Grey sneakers: Exploration, investigation, and collection of evidence.
  4. Pink slippers: Care, compassion, and attention to human feelings and sensitivities.
  5. Orange gumboots: Emergency action, with prime concern for safety.
  6. Purple riding boots: Action by virtue of position or authority.
For sure, action situations are rarely as simple as thinking situations and there is often a need to do two things at a time. So, the exercise plays on the possibility of wearing many different shoes to signify a combination of responses to a situation.

During the N-of-8 advisory board, the idea emerged to benchmark the customer experiences of brands including The Ritz Carlton hotels, Disney, and Starbucks.

As an action directly from the N-of-8 group, STINSON planned a dinner symposium for blood bank executives around the idea of “Redefining the Customer Experience.” The symposium consisted of speakers from name brand customer service organizations including The Ritz Carlton, Disney Institute, and author of The Starbucks Experience.

The forum included opportunities for executives to interact with the expert speakers as well as a book signing after the event. Executives left with ideas and education for enhancing the blood donation experience.

Joseph Michelli, Ph.D. author of The Starbucks Experience, Scott Milligan from The Disney Institute, and Alexandra Valentin from The Ritz-Carlton shared their secrets to creating the ultimate customer experience.

Here are some highlights.

At The Ritz-Carlton, all employees are trained on the gold standard and in creating a “home away from home” for their guests. In their motto, they refer to themselves as “ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen,” reinforcing their position as service professionals. Core to their culture is treating each other with respect, which in turn reflects on their attitude towards their customers.

Another key to the Ritz’s success is recruiting for key talents, which includes work ethic, self-esteem, service, and empathy. By hiring employees that fit their purpose and strategy, they are able to sustain the high standards to which they aspire, and employ a happy, engaged work force. To ensure this is the case, they measure employee and customer satisfaction on a regular basis.

At The Ritz-Carlton, a “spirit of service excellence” starts at the top. They believe that if their leaders engage with employees at an emotional level, their employees will engage their customers in the same way.

With these talents in place, the Ritz is comfortable empowering each employee to solve guest issues on the spot, without the involvement of a manager, and spend up to $2,000 per customer.

The Ritz-Carlton’s 3 Steps to Service
  1. A warm and sincere greeting. Use the guest’s name.
  2. Anticipation and fulfillment of each guest’s need.
  3. A warm good-bye. Use the guest’s name.
How has Starbucks transformed the coffee drinking experience from ordinary to extraordinary? By empowering their employees to provide the ultimate customer experience.

Starbucks believes the key to its success is its people, and the special experience they create for the customer. Starbucks’ unique employee culture provides a sense of ownership, starting with a leadership vision and commitment to drive innovation into the culture.

In driving innovation, Starbucks employees are encouraged to suggest new ideas. Starbucks has processes in place to generate, evaluate, and implement these ideas—supporting an entrepreneurial spirit.

But, at the core of their culture, and what Starbucks does, is “sell an experience.” This, in turn, is driving customer loyalty with an average 18 return visits a month.

In empowering their employees to create the “ultimate customer experience,” Starbucks has defined its “Five Ways of Being.” These are outlined in the Starbucks “Green Apron Book,” a pocket sized book that every employee receives. The following “Five Ways of Being” are necessary to be a successful Starbucks employee:
  1. Be welcoming
  2. Be genuine
  3. Be considerate
  4. Be knowledgeable
  5. Be involved
What do you think is one of the most common questions asked at Disney? Would you believe it is, “When is the 3 o’clock parade?”

However, Disney employees understand this is probably indicative of another question the person wants to know such as, “Does the parade start on time?” or “Where is a good place to watch the parade?” So, a Disney employee may respond, “The parade typically starts on time at 3:00 p.m. in Liberty Square, and if you sit here you’ll have a good place to watch in the shade.”

At Disney, it’s not about the rides and the attractions, it is about the experience and “making people happy.” This requires that they know their guests, anticipate their needs, and pay attention to every detail.

For example, they know convenience is important. So, one of the many conveniences they offer their guests is the ability to buy souvenirs and pick them up as they leave at a location near the parking lot. They also know the importance of cleanliness, which is another top priority for Disney. Service is a primary theme at Disney, and as they explain, they “create happiness,” and make every effort to ensure every touch point and experience supports that objective.

The Disney Institute shared these concepts with us and also presents on topics including Leadership, Quality Service, People Management, and Teamwork in formats including
keynote speeches, half-day workshops, and multi-day experiences. Their programs showcase proven Disney strategies and success formulas easily adaptable to any industry.

Take-aways for the blood banking industry:
  • What talents do you need to recruit to fit your purpose and strategy?
  • How do you drive a service-driven culture from the top?
  • What are the guiding principles for your employees in ensuring the “ultimate donor experience?”
  • What problems or challenges do blood donors encounter that can be minimized or prevented?
  • When a donor asks a question, what is it that they really want to understand, and how can you help your employees recognize this?
  • What else can be done to anticipate and fulfill donor needs and expectations, and how do you engage your employees in the process?

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