Back from Sabbatical:Product OR Experience?


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It is terrific to be back from my “blogging sabbatical!”

During my absence, I have been blessed with the opportunity to complete two customer experience book projects. Both books will be published this year by McGraw-Hill (one about UCLA and one about Zappos). In fact, the first Prescription for Excellence will be released on May 24th.

The proceeds from Prescription for Excellence are going to Operation Mend (a non-profit organization dedicated to providing reconstructive surgery services to those injured in combat). For more on the book, click here:

Prescription for Excellence identifies 5 leadership principles:

1) Commit to care
2) Leave no room for error
3) Make the best better
4) Create the future
5) Service serves us

These principles reflect a transformational approach deployed by a complex academic, research, training, and medical delivery organization (UCLA Health System) but they are applicable both inside and outside healthcare. While I will unpack the principles in more detail in future blogs, I thought I would start today with a couple of questions?

Is it possible to have a “world class product” and provide a undesirable customer experience?

Can you sustain business success irrespective of customer experience?

UCLA Health System is irrefutably one of the top-tier medical centers in the world today! If one were to define medical outcomes as a key product for UCLA, the institution clearly would be viewed as “world class”. Unfortunately, for a portion of UCLA’s history the delivery of those tremendous medical results occurred with less than optimal attention to the patient experience. In fact, patient satisfaction scores at UCLA were near the 30th percentile. In essence, patients would talk about miraculous lifesaving services while suggesting that their negative experiences left them feeling less than satisfied.

By creating a patient experience based on service standards and driving behavior change throughout the organization, UCLA was able to transform patient satisfaction well-above the 95th percentile and create a patient experience commensurate with it’s clinical results. In fact, UCLA has achieved the highest level of satisfaction amongst academic medical centers.

As to the issue of whether any business (including UCLA Health System) can sustain success if the customer experience is undervalued, I will save that discussion for my next blog.

For now, I simply ask how do your products compare with the experiences customers encounter when receiving them?

By the way, thanks for the support during my absence. It’s great to be back!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Michelli, Ph.D.
Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., an organizational consultant and the chief experience officer of The Michelli Experience, authored The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and the best-selling The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary.


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