On October 6, HC3 hosted a conversation with Beth Bierbower, public speaker, strategic advisor, host of B-Time Podcast, and author. During the discussion, Beth shared the importance of being a customer-focused leader and addressed some of the ways in which the pandemic has impacted consumer sentiments and consequently, consumer behaviors. She offered strategic advice on how leaders can develop a customer-centric mindset that brings the customer experience to the forefront of business operations in order for businesses to endure during a time of crisis.
Bradley Minkow, Regional Director, Oak Street Health
Beth Bierbower, Strategic Advisor, Host of B-Time Podcast, Author, Public Speaker
Meghan Phillipp, Executive Director, HC3
Watch the Recap | Link to YouTube
Beth described how the pandemic has put an immense amount of pressure on consumers, and the many disruptions affecting our everyday lives: Parents are assisting their children with attending school online, many employees have had to adjust to working remotely, and a large number of people have lost their jobs entirely. Navigating these extremes, along with the increased responsibilities and stressors in some cases, have caused people to become fatigued from a lack of space and the inability to take an emotional break.
Beth said that because of the pandemic, “It is family time all the time…. but we need a break.”
This fatigue is exacerbating future uncertainties that pertain to the COVID-19 pandemic, financial security, and the physical safety of our family and friends. Beth suggested that companies should work on building trust with their customers during these hard times. Companies who successfully put customers at the center of their business decisions will be more apt to endure in the long-term because customers will remember the way they stepped up in their time of need.
Beth believes that while some in leadership roles today are born leaders, great leaders must learn customer centricity. Beth shared a number of steps that leaders must take to develop the “customer mindset” skill:
1. Leaders must look outside of their company and industry. They should learn about what customers want, what the broader industry looks like, and what other industries are doing. She noted that the health care industry in particular has been historically slow at adapting new ideas and best practices, and health care leadership should work on developing this skill and mindset.
2. Leaders should have intellectual curiosity and question why changes are needed or wanted. Intellectual curiosity can help leaders become more open-minded. By observing customer behavior, they can gain a deeper sense of what the customer is trying to achieve and how customers are leveraging a product in different – and sometimes unintended – ways to improve their lives.
3. Leaders should also be highly aware of their company’s pain points. Beth believes, “A complaint is a gift; it is a customer giving you advice for free.” As such, leaders should take complaints as a guide to improving their company and product. Feedback from employees can give insight on what gaps exist in the internal processes, because they are often the ones interfacing with the customers.
During these challenging times, Beth commends U.S. health care companies who stepped up – those companies that have supported patients by waiving copays, enabled providers to utilize telemedicine platforms, and figured out a way to support customers as they navigate this “new normal.” In times of crisis, she urges leaders to worry about the consumer first, and then the money. Beth believes, “[Do] well by doing good. If we do right by our customers, the profitability will come.” Companies should not only make these changes internally, but business and health care leaders should also advocate for their customers at the highest policy levels within state and federal governments. In her experience, most administrations have been very willing to listen when business partners come to the table, especially regarding any policies that create barriers to better business and outcomes. Companies should not feel intimated to make big changes, but she encourages leaders to start small. So if you feel like your organization is not quite where it needs to be, start where you can.
Beth’s parting remarks were that you should challenge your team to bring one blatant thing that they recognize does not work well for the company, and really focus your efforts to work on it.
“Start with one… One goal. One complaint. One issue.”
Learn more about Beth Bierbower at https://bethbierbower.com/
PODCAST: B-Time with Beth Bierbower Podcast
BOOK: Busy Bee, Queen Bee: Stop the Busy Work and Start Leading the Hive