I read a report in the Wall Street Journal today about hospitals that are trying to increase customer service by, take a deep breath now, listening to patients.

Laura Landro wrote:

After years of confining outreach efforts to the occasional focus group
on decor or food service, hospitals are striking far-reaching new
partnerships with patients and their families, creating advisory
councils whose members help plan new facilities, set hiring standards
and interview job candidates. Patient groups are participating in the
design of clinical trials, evaluating hospital equipment, reviewing
medication safety measures and helping train medical residents. The new
councils are giving patients an increasingly powerful voice at a time
when hospitals are scrambling to increase customer satisfaction, better
respond to complaints and avoid costly malpractice litigation.


If hospitals are indeed going this far, more power to them. The web continues to teach us that customers are critical to a business’s marketing plan–or strategy for that matter. From spending habits, to new programs carefully crafted by marketers, the web is a giant customer service data house that gives organizations plenty of customer information about how to service those customers better.

Brick and mortar companies (like hospitals) are now coming around to appreciate the power of including customers on the front end of strategy–rather than just delivering the "product" and getting a perfunctory survey at the end of the delivery.

The Point: When crafting and executing strategy, bring your customer in early and often, and you might just avoid a disappointment on the back end.