“The Bachelor” is wrapping up its season on ABC on Monday. While this reality TV staple is often considered a guilty pleasure, there are lessons here that can be applied to how we take on the patient experience in healthcare:
1. You only get one first impression
The show’s season always starts out with 20+ women stepping out of limos and introducing themselves to the bachelor in all sorts of crazy ways (in a wedding dress, with their dog/grandma/kid, on a bike playing the piano, etc.). They want to be remembered and liked because they know they could be sent home that night and this is their only shot. The same thing goes for wooing new patients. You only have one chance to make your first impression and win their possibly life-long business. If you mess it up you won’t likely get another shot.
2. Experience can be manufactured
It’s against the odds that multiple women should form such intense feelings toward a single guy in a short time frame. But with expensive dates in exotic locales, the show proves that the right amenities and atmosphere can affect people’s moods and feelings. An important insight into why hospitals seem to be in an arms race to improve their rooms, services, and food in their quest for higher patient satisfaction.
3. Nobody likes a group date
Although there’s only one bachelor who has to juggle 27 women, each woman wants to feel like she is in a one-on-one relationship. Your patients feel the same and want to be seen and treated as individuals, not just one of the masses. Are you talking at them like a group or seeing each of them as a person?
4. The wrong phrase can be a turn off
Wendy Leebov wrote in her HeartBeat newsletter how the gap between intent and impact affects the patient experience. People mean well when they say things like “It’s OK.” or “Calm down” or call a patient “Sweetheart” or “Honey,” but often patients end up feeling patronized and disrespected. Find a way to help your staff remove these phrases from their vocabulary and make real connections using the name a patient wants to be called by.
5. Dissatisfaction can go viral
Every year before the final episode, the show brings back the cast for “The Women Tell All” episode. It’s here where the dumped women broadcast their complaints and detail the bachelor’s flaws on national television. An infographic from Anthony Cirillo shows a disgruntled patient can take their negativity and on average tell 25 people about their experience (or the world on social media). Service recovery efforts are key to prevent this bad word of mouth.
6. Misaligned expectations are a source of tears
Almost every exit from a rose ceremony ends with crying in a limo on the way to the airport. Often its because the contestant’s expectations were to walk away at the end of the show with a fiancé and live happily ever after. What are your patients’ expectations for recovery after surgery or treatment? Are they realistic? If you promise the world and fail to deliver, satisfaction scores will be lower than if you set appropriate shared goals ahead of time.
Remember when it comes to healthcare, a personal patient-provider relationship is key. Will a patient accept your rose?