Are you brave enough to bring your customers or patients into your boardroom?


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A couple of weeks ago I took a bunch of people, from one of my clients, to visit The Walton Centre in Liverpool as part of a customer service excellence and continuous improvement programme.

Not only is The Walton Centre a world class facility that specializes in neurology, neurosurgery, spinal and pain management services, it is also an award winning organization in terms of how it manages its people having been awarded the Investors in People Gold Standard (2014, 2017) as well as the Health and Wellbeing IIP (Investors In People) Award. It’s important to note that less than 1% of all UK organizations have achieved this dual accreditation.

We were there to find out about their approach to patient experience, see what we could learn and to figure out how we could apply that to the improvement of customer care in my client’s organization.

For me, one of the stand out parts of the briefing that we received came when they explained how they gather and act on patient feedback.

Like many other organizations they conduct surveys, review complaints, host listening and engagement events and gather feedback from friends, families, stakeholders and charities they work with.

That’s all very well, good and thorough.

But, they go further than most and now they bring patient stories into their board room.

Now, these stories are told by, or on behalf of, individuals (patients) and are told from their own perspective. The stories provide an opportunity for senior leaders to really understand both the patient’s experience and their perspective of the care they have received.

However, these stories are not just good news stories. They invite both good and not so good stories into the board room so they can learn what constitutes good practice, where problems lie and where they can improve.

The reason that they do this is is that they know that while data and statistics play an important place in monitoring and understanding the services that they provide the right story has the power to motivate and change minds. And that is key when it comes to making big changes.

“Patient stories help us inform debate and discussion. They can help us appeal to hearts as well as minds”

Moreover, they have also come to understand that patients, families and staff feel empowered when telling their stories and that sharing their experience can make them feel that they are making a real difference.

During our briefing we were told of one particular story where a husband and wife attended a board meeting where the husband was there to tell his story about how he had made a full recovery from a stroke due to the fast acting staff at The Walton Centre.

But, what they didn’t know was that at the time he was admitted, the Medical Director, sensing something was not right, broke with protocol and ordered an emergency thrombectomy.

As a result, the man was able to make a full and fast recovery.

His wife, attending the board meeting with him, did not know this, and on learning this promptly got up, walked round the table and gave the Medical Director a huge hug.

Sometimes we don’t now the lengths that people go to to do a good job and this is a powerful example of that becoming known.

Now, many organizations go to great lengths to bring their ‘customers’ stories and experiences to life.

Amazon, for example, talk about having an empty chair in every meeting. That chair is there to represent their customer and ensures that the customer stays front of mind in every decision they make.

I think what The Walton Centre have done by bringing people, telling their own stories, into their board room is both insightful and incredibly brave.

We all know how busy modern organizations, particularly hospitals, can get and how in the midst of the busy-ness the patient or customer can often get lost in the process and procedure.

Bringing not just verbatim feedback but people themselves into the board room, from my perspective, is next level braveness and clearly shows what matters to the organization.

This might be a big leap for many but it does show how far the leading organizations are willing to go to in order to connect with, understand and learn from their patients and customers.

I wonder who will be brave enough to follow in their footsteps.

This post was originally published on

Thanks to Pixabay for the image.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


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