What Makes An Elite Concierge Experience?

If there is a constant aspiration that I’ve found across professional continuing education units, it’s our obsession with providing outstanding customer service to everyone we work with, from our students, to guests on our campus, and in our interactions within our own units.  For those who have worked with me, you know I have the expectation that we will create “Raving Fans.”

You may remember the 1993 book Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles, where they make the point that having satisfied customers just isn’t good enough; we want to create raving fans.

One of my colleagues here at ODU reminds me that we create raving fans by creating an elite concierge experience.  Now what does that really mean?  Well, it is strange where one finds inspiration, because I stumbled across an article called “What Makes An Elite Concierge Medicine Practice Successful” and found that many of the suggestions raised by the author, Russ Alan Prince, generalize to providing the elite concierge experience for our customer.

Here are some of the criteria, according to Daniel Carlin, CEO and Founder of World Clinic:

The practice must be totally committed to the care of their client-patients.  This must be core to the culture….a great concierge practice makes medical care work for the patient, and not the other way around.

For continuing and professional education units we must be student focused, and if this isn’t at the core of our culture we won’t be successful. There is no doubt that there continue to be policies and procedures that are not user friendly but this is where we come in. We must be an advocate for seeing the process from a students’ point of view.

 …every member of the staff, especially the doctors, should possess top notch interpersonal skills. Poor communicators and those who fail to listen well should work elsewhere.

I was recently asked what is the most important skill for doing my work, and my response was having good interpersonal skills.  Like medicine, interacting with a higher education institution can be an intimidating experience, and we can help alleviate anxiety so that the student can be successful.  The last sentence “Poor communicators and those who fail to listen well should work elsewhere,” reminds me of Jim Collins’ Good to Great in which he encourages us to get the right people on the bus and to get the wrong people off the bus.  Clearly, poor communicators shouldn’t be on the elite concierge experience bus.

Beyond any particular medical problem, the staff should have a broad/holistic understanding of each client/patient. This understanding goes well beyond just mastering the clinical information in their records.

We do students a disservice if we see them as just registrations, butts in seats, and revenue flows.  What we offer is the opportunity to experience the power of education, and we must understand that the motivations and aspirations of our students differ.  By “having a broad/holistic understanding” of the student, we can provide meaningful advice from potential programs to financial aid to career fit.  These are discussions that have potentially life changing results for our students, and they cannot be taken lightly.

Patients should have rapid easy access to their concierge physician.

For me I see this as one of our greatest challenges in the age of over-connectivity.  There can be the expectation that our offices and in some cases our faculty are available 24/7.  I’m not sure if any institution has found the best way of dealing with this expectation, but I’m sure through the use of technology we will find new and better ways of doing it.  And while we may not be available 24/7 we can certainly provide flexible hours for when we offer courses and for providing student services.  Those providing elite concierge experiences know that the days of being open 9 to 5 are gone.

There should be a focus on wellness, prevention, and longevity. This requires a formal, calendared prevention checklist for every patient and a proactive plan to address any unique patient health risks.

For me there are two takeaways from this for creating the elite concierge experience.  The first is having a “calendared and proactive plan” in working with students.  In other words we have a very important role to play in assuring our students are making progress in our courses and programs. Whether it be by using action analytics to assist with persistence in a class or the helping hand in advising students with their program plan, we have a huge role to plan.  And second, by being proactive we can “address the unique needs” of each student.  I recognize that there are limits to how far we can go with customer service, in that there comes a point where the students must take responsibility, and I believe that part of the elite concierge experience is helping the student to understand that and provide next steps.

What is a bit interesting is that the notion of providing an elite concierge medicine practice is geared to wealthy patients. For me, continuing and professional educators aspire to create the elite concierge experience for all, in the hopes that each student will persist and succeed in meeting their educational aspirations.  When that happens I do believe that we create raving fans.

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