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INTRODUCTION

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.

 —GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER

 

Candie Goldbronn has been a patient at a number of UCLA clinics, and, like most people who seek treatment at UCLA, she has noticed consistent service, but also an intangible level of care. "I've had Lasik eye surgery done at UCLA and been treated in the emergency room for a back muscle strain. Every time, I'm greeted with a smile. Volunteers, nurses, doctors, and other staff members introduce themselves, ask to examine me, listen to me, answer my questions, and let me know what is going on with my care. I've never been to another healthcare system that didn't feel just like a hospital. UCLA is more like being cared for at a nice hotel or a fine restaurant. I've never received that type of healthcare anywhere else."

The CICARE program outline in Chapter 2 was designed to provide service consistency. However, it is part of a larger leadership strategy that elevates "service" to the "relationship-based" or "customer experience" level. Consistency drives predictable patterns of care and ultimately generates customer satisfaction—a consumer's assessment of your business's competence and reliability. UCLA's leaders seek to achieve not just satisfaction, but also patient engagement—an emotional sense of connection between the patient and UCLA.

When a business achieves engagement, consumers are likely to refer their family and friends to that business and remain loyal in the face of increasing competition. At UCLA, this focus on patient engagement also sets a stretch goal of reaching beyond being a "good" service provider in an industry that is fraught with service challenges. The leadership wants to inspire and drive memorable patient experiences that not only stand out in healthcare but also leave people like Candie Goldbronn comparing the service they receive at UCLA to the service they receive at legendary providers like luxury hotels.

Throughout this chapter, we will look at leadership practices at UCLA and how those practices help the staff create deeper relationship-based and emotional connections with patients. We will also glean insights from the relationship wisdom of UCLA staff members.

SINCE ALL BUSINESS IS PERSONAL, FOCUS ON RELATIONSHIPS

It can be argued that certain business transactions, such as fueling your car or buying a product online, are impersonal. By contrast, businesses like childcare and healthcare are high-touch industries. In healthcare, personal connections obviously matter, and the ability of staff members to create authentic caring relationships leads to success. However, even in businesses where service seems secondary to product, strong customer connections drive brand differentiation and other positive business outcomes. Starbucks and Ritz-Carlton sell commodities ...

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