What Any Healthcare Team Can Learn From Chick-fil-A

Any business looking to grow should constantly observe what makes other companies boom. Since the vast majority of online patient complaints center on service, it’s worthwhile to observe companies that excel in that category.

Chick-fil-A, for example.

What tips and tricks can healthcare teams glean from a restaurant chain? Let’s find out.

Set yourself apart.

As a former employee, I can attest firsthand to Chick-fil-A’s stellar services and operating standards. One of the first things I learned in orientation training was the company’s claim of being “quick service” instead of the generic “fast food.” With that little difference, Chick-fil-A sets itself apart from the rest of the industry. What’s more, they live up to that promise with their distinct speed, execution, diligence, and friendliness. Healthcare teams can pull the same trick. Here’s how.

Make real connections.

As a team member, I was instructed to build relationships with my customers. Chick-fil-A created the “Core 4,” the four objectives each team member should achieve within the workplace:

1. Create eye contact.

2. Share a smile.

3. Speak with an enthusiastic tone.

4. Stay connected to make it personal.

Each interaction with a guest was an opportunity to connect. When I worked on the front counter, I’d don a genuine and inviting smile that beckoned guests to my cash register. While fulfilling beverage orders, I remembered my training and initiated conversation with the guest I was serving. Any comment that displayed my personality and an interest in the guest helped establish a relationship for the next time they visited.

Healthcare appointments can easily unnerve me — anything from a general checkup to an MRI. I appreciate the nurses and doctors who approach me with relaxed and lively attitudes. Their sincerity generates a calming environment. Conversely, an apathetic tone can actually increase my anxiety. A significant way healthcare teams can create loyalty in their patients is by prioritizing them and their time.

Healthcare teams can create loyalty in their patients by prioritizing them and their time.

Protect the dignity of the person you’re helping.

You may have noticed by now that I haven’t at all used the word “customer” when referring to the people I served at Chick-fil-A. In training, I was informed to view them as “guests.” Seeing someone as a dollar sign instead of as a person makes it harder to serve them well. Thinking “guest” instead of “customer” shifted my thinking from making a sale to making a friend.

Obviously it’s difficult on busy days, but if healthcare teams think of each patient as a guest—someone worth time and attention—those patients will notice, and the schedule will fill up.