Episode #62 Customer Experience Strategy with Valerie Monet

Is there a senior leader in your organization with the sole job of eliminating “customer friction points”?  Well, there is at Banner Health.  Valerie Monet is the Senior Director of Customer Experience Strategy at Banner Health.  This demonstrates a remarkable commitment to the consumerist mindset from one of the largest and most forward-thinking integrated healthcare systems in the country.  Banner Health is attempting to improve the patient experience by transforming the customer experience.

Valerie Monet has over a decade of involvement  in healthcare customer experience. Prior to joining Banner Health, Valerie spent thirteen years at J.D. Power where her responsibilities included strategic planning, business development, customer experience management and consumer data analytics, as well as qualitative ‘voice-of-the-customer’ data collection.  In this role, she worked with dozens of top performing consumer-oriented companies in the U.S. and Canada.

In this interview we’ll discuss:

  • Why a focus on customer experience has become increasingly important to healthcare systems in differentiating themselves from their competitors.
  • What strategies Banner Health is deploying to reduce customer friction points and differentiate it’s consumer experience, including their omnipresent patient/customer persona – “Sophia”.
  • How Valerie and her colleagues utilize both quantitative and qualitative data to understand the customer experience and measure the improvements.
  • How Valerie understands consumerism to be highly complementary and synergistic with the concept of “patient”.
  • The similarities and marked differences between the customer experience in healthcare and other industries, and why healthcare experiences tend to be more polarized – either really good or really bad…

At this point in time, Valerie admits that she can’t easily quantify the outcomes of many of her hypothesis, despite dogged efforts to do so.  I admire and respect her honesty regarding where she’s at and where she’s trying to get to.  Much in keeping with other experts I’ve interviewed, Valerie emphasizes that many of the insights have to be gleaned from qualitative research and field data collection – direct conversations with healthcare consumers.  As she puts it, customer experience is a data scientist’s dream; but there’s also an art to it.  The measurement of experience is impacted by numerous factors such as patient expectations and the strength of the doctor-patient relationship.  Science, as she points out, will only get you so far.

One of the most telling insights Valerie shared was when I asked her to instruct us, in less than 30 seconds, how we might go about setting up an amazing customer experience division.  Her immediate answer was, “just start listening to your customers and patients – start getting feedback – find a starting place, sit there and observe and listen – and just start to understand what they feel and what they see and what it’s like to be on the other side.”

In the end, what I repeatedly come back to is that customer experience is about better understanding the people we care for and treat, understanding what they want and need, making it easier for them to manage their healthcare and their health, and creating better experiences and better outcomes – call it what you will…

This was one of the most interesting discussions I’ve had on one of the most important topics in healthcare.  It’s clear that Valerie is excited by the intellectual, emotional and purposeful pursuit of customer experience; and she makes it salient and purposeful for those of us who are not experts in this domain.  Her curiosity and fascination with this topic are infectious.

Until next time, be well.