This past week I had the great privilege of training leaders from the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA). Out of the hundreds of organizations I’ve had the chance to work with, CTCA is truly unique. They have dedicated employees working to support people diagnosed with cancer, and they are exceptionally successful all at the same time.
CTCA is one of the few organizations that makes a difference, creates a great place to work, and yet still does well financially. This is a rarity in the for-profit world. Although in practice their methods are complex, their success boils down to just a handful of guiding principles.
They are the embodiment of the maxim, “Doing well by doing good”
PEOPLE VERSUS PROFIT (PATIENT CENTERED)
Between sessions I was fortunate enough to get a tour of one of their newer facilities. The very layout of the building showcased CTCA ‘s emphasis on patient-centered care. According to my tour guide, CTCA’s CEO is focused on making sure patients come first. Even if they can no longer pay for treatments, CTCA still grants patients necessary care.
“The more we take care of people, the busier we get. We never worry about the money. We only worry about the patient.”
What if every organization focused all of its energy on creating the most spectacular customer experience this way? If they strived to ensure the customer was always taken care of, would they have to worry about where their next customer was coming from? Or would customers be so passionate about the organization, that not only would they never use a competitor, but they would also encourage their friends to become customers, too?
One could say that CTCA is in a unique industry, with an inherent emphasis on care and understanding, – but if every organization was just as concerned about the customer experience, wouldn’t we all be better off?
CTCA clearly understands that putting patients first is the most efficient way to manage their care and dramatically increase the rate of success. They go to great lengths in making sure the patient feels more like a person, and not just a number.
CTCA continues to grow and achieve success because they leverage the idea of being patient-centered. They do well by doing good.
LINE OF SIGHT (MOTHER STANDARD)
When I got the chance to meet people within the facility, I wanted to test this idea of patient-centered care. It was easy for me to see how nurses and doctors might have this mindset, but I actually found that every single employee felt they were playing a significant role in delivering the very best care possible.
From the security guard, to the person that manages the salad bar, to the folks in the gift center: everyone believed it was his or her job to ensure better care. This was one of the best examples of each and every person knowing their impact on gaining and retaining customers.
See, CTCA prides itself on giving what they call the “Mother Standard.” In essence, this means giving every patient the same care you would give to your mother (or any other family member). In every action, this ideal is considered. This is CTCA’s way of linking each employee to the end customer – their line of sight. Employees thus connect with the meaning in their job every day, and meaningfulness correlates to the profit and productivity of an organization.
MOVING PEOPLE (MISSION DRIVEN)
In Daniel Pink’s latest book, ‘To Sell is Human,’ one of the first things he points out is that the consumer is now equipped with as much, if not more, information about the service or product than the person who is doing the selling. Customers are continuously seeking out organizations that “walk their talk” – mere gimmicks aren’t enough to sell products anymore.
CTCA is one of the few organizations that really seems to take action and make decisions based on their mission:
Given their industry, their mission is unique because there is no talk of a cure or of ending cancer. It’s all about the person they are caring for. Without a doubt, they deliver the very best care using the most state-of-the-art equipment available, but the driving force is their mission.
It is highly unlikely that many organizations could emulate CTCA, because they are such a unique business, but some lessons can be taken from their example:
• If organizations use laser-like focus on making their products, processes, and programs customer-oriented, customers will not only develop loyalty, but also draw friends and family in as well.
• If organizations strive to ensure that each and every employee clearly understands how their job impacts gaining and retaining customers, employees would know how meaningful their roles are. This would increase innovation, loyalty, and efficiency, – and unleash employee passion.
• If organizations design a mission that truly represents their unique value proposition and customer focus, it could – and should – impact actions and decisions. Customers want to work with organizations that walk their talk.
What are your customers saying about your processes and employees? Do they believe your organization is as focused on them as you have promised to be?
Anil Saxena is the President of Cube 2.14, an organizational development consulting firm that works with clients to increase both customer and employee engagement while decreasing turnover, improving customer retention, and increasing profitability within organizations.
Saxena is a certified High Impact coach and trainer and a Joint Application Design facilitator. He is also certified by both Rush Systems and IBM as a focus group facilitator. He is an inaugural member of Northwestern University’s Learning and Organizational Change program, and he earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.