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“Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic” That We Can All Learn From

“Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic” That We Can All Learn From

Sybil F. Stershic

October 03, 2008

Every service provider is challenged with engaging employees and creating systems to deliver a positive customer experience, but none more so than those who work in healthcare. So what can be learned from the Mayo Clinic? This excerpt, from the book Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic by Leonard Berry and Kent Seltman explains it best:

“Imagine what can be learned from an organization that serves customers who:

1. arrive with some combination of illness or injury, pain uncertainty, and fear

2. give up most of their freedoms if hospitalized

3. need the service but dread it

4. typically relinquish their privacy (and modesty) to clinicians they may be meeting for the first time.

“Mayo Clinic and other well-run healthcare organizations serve just these kinds of special customers who are called patients and still earn high praise and fierce loyalty from them. Yes, indeed, a successful healthcare organization offers important lessons for most business organizations.”

Inside Mayo Clinic

There’s quite a story behind the powerful and enduring brand that is the Mayo Clinic with its emphasis on patient-first care, medical research and education, an integrated approach to healthcare, and a strong partnership between physicians and administrators (typically an adversarial relationship in most hospitals). Co-authors Leonard Berry, Distinguished Professor of Marketing at Texas A&M and Kent Seltman, former Marketing Director at the Mayo Clinic, studied Mayo Clinic’s service culture through in-depth interviews and observing patient-clinician interactions.

Their book paints a fascinating picture of the history and culture of Mayo Clinic, including how it engineers its internal systems to support its patient-first mission. Best of all, the book contains great lessons on creating and managing a brand that has achieved incredible growth in a difficult and challenging industry while staying true to its core values. The story is even more amazing given ongoing medical technological advances and the financial and political pressures placed on the healthcare profession.

Listening to the Voice of the Customer

Berry and Seltman share numerous quotes and testimonials from patients, their families, doctors, nurses, administrators, and their families, to illustrate the Mayo Clinic story. (Some of the anecdotes brought me to tears.) Even with Mayo Clinic’s unique position in healthcare, the authors do a great job discussing lessons applicable to other service firms in the “Lessons for Managers” section throughout the book.

One of my favorite chapters describes how Mayo Clinic manages the different types of clues that result in a positive customer experience:

• demonstrating competence to instill customer confidence – for example, with a collaborative team approach to patient care and integrated & timely access to medical records.

• influencing first impressions and expectations – such as the design of physical space to convey a sense of healing and calm to reduce the stress of patients and staff.

• exceeding customer expectations – including extraordinary sensitivity to patients and their families.

This book offers lessons that can be learned by every manager who works in a service-based organization; it’s not just for those in healthcare.

Caution; the only downside after reading this book is the possible dissatisfaction with most healthcare institutions. If my family or I need critical care, my first choice would be Mayo Clinic!

Information courtesy of Sybil F. Stershic’s Quality Service Marketing Blog on Internal Marketing & Internal Communications.


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