Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mickey Mouse Moment: A Follow Up

This post was inspired by my 3rd wedding anniversary for which my wife and I celebrated by going to the happiest place on earth, Disneyland! Of course, this sparked some thought as we enjoyed our time there which I naturally felt was a great follow up to my Mickey Mouse Moment posts from Kettlebell Therapy™.

Backing it up a Bit:
The main take-away's from the Mickey Mouse Moment posts were the following:
  • If physical therapy practice is to follow Disney's success, it must first claim & demonstrate service uniqueness to consumers at large.
  • Physical therapy practice must unify through development of consistent quality of services rendered; Disney is consistent no matter which park, store, or cast member you go to - it is always the same experience (with given accepted and encouraged variances of norms)
  • Physical therapists must create a physical therapy experience that creates self-marketing customer loyalty; Disney does this through nostalgia, what are we doing to make this emotional imprint?
  • Finally, physical therapists need to collectively create an iconic experience to bring all these things together; Disney did this through Mickey Mouse, hence, the Mickey Mouse Moment
A corollary combining both the Mickey Mouse Moment and the concepts from my Consumer Awareness/Access posts is best mentioned from the wisdom found in Carmine Gallo's lecture when he states  that if you cannot express what you do in 10 words or less - you've failed! For this post, my goal is to address a service aspect of Disney, and hopefully, help construct a "10 words or less" definition for physical therapists & physical therapy practice.

Back to Disney:
One of the days I was a Disneyland, I once again came across the sign at entrance to the Tomorrowland:
I think this is such a wonderful concept and statement; in 1955, Walt Disney conceived of such ideas for Disneyland and the rest of the world. I simply found it inspiring and began to ask myself, "What's my vision for tomorrow?"

I realized through visiting both Disneyworld and Disneyland all in the span of a couple months, that the Disney experience holds three attributes that any service industry should make their top priorities. As a guest of Disney, I found that I always experienced the following:

  1. Cast members actually caring about my perspective, desires, and goals.
  2. Cast members putting in the extra effort for a great guest experience.
  3. Cast members keeping the magic alive, no matter what the situation was, or how many times they've done it.
Actually Caring
People can tell, in fact, people always know the difference between sincerity and going through the motions. Sincerity cannot be trained, it can only be lived out. Now, I know that I'm speaking to the choir in regards to a passionate care for people's recovery - and - as such, I want to commend all rehab therapists and therapy staff in that people KNOW YOU CARE! This is something we must dearly hold onto; losing the passion, losing the empathy, losing the compassion, or losing the love for each patient is something that will destory us as a profession. Keep up the care!

Putting in the Extra Effort
Disney cast members are trained to put in as much extra effort as possible during service recovery opportunities. To do so, being sensitive to people's needs is a must. Making this extra effort can make even the worst office wait time seem not as bad. Something I like to do in the hospital is end my encounter with each patient (and family) with, "Is there anything else I can do for you at this time?" I don't care what it is: a blanket, water, food, getting the nurse, making the temperature of the room hotter/colder... I want every patient to know that I regard my time with them as the very most important thing which deserves the utmost efforts from my personage.

Keeping the Magic Alive
I feel that for any job, it can get easy to get lost in the reptition. However, this is something that Disney cast members don't seem to struggle with (at least not on the outside). I mean, imagine being the cast member running the queue for dark rides like Snow White or Alice in Wonderland; it is perceivable easy to sourly say the same spiel over and over again - this almost never happens! Every time, the cast member will do their very best to try to bring you into that world of Walt Disney's imagination so that your experience is truly magical. Physical therapy has a similar magic; each time a patient feels out their joint mobility and realizes it doesn't hurt anymore, each time a patient learns to walk the first time after a spinal cord injury, each time a patient realizes they are able to play with their grandchildren again - this is the magic we MUST keep alive. It's not just functional mobility, joint mobs, transfer training, neuromuscular re-education, and the like... it's about restoring people back to their livelihoods and being a support during their greatest time of need. THAT is magical!

Bonus Material: Make a WOW moment!

Enough said? I think so. Let's make THIS type of service impact on our customers!

Couple more thoughts on Disney:
Okay. It's true. I'm a huge Disney freak. I love it for personal reasons, but, I also love it for the professional success the firm continues to demonstrate - for the models they've made and areas they continue to pioneer. I feel that the Walt Disney Company is a fantastic place for us to seek business wisdom, even if all we do is study merely through observation. What I gleaned most for this experience was that the Mickey Mouse Moment must carry a meaning beyond a symbol, product, or service - it must carry an emotional content that links service with remembered satisfaction. The symbol, that Mickey Mouse Moment, should be a trigger to recall each fond memory of the physical therapy experience; so fond, in fact, that the customer cannot wait to share it with EVERYONE they talk with.

When you are truly satisfied with a restaurant experience, what do you do? Typically, you'll share about it! Whether via a Facebook post, a Tweet Pic, or a Yelp review - you will share of things you are happy with. Maybe this is the basic wisdom we need to apply in healthcare practice for REAL patient satisfication. So I ask: what are we doing to keep the magic alive? What are we doing to tap into this secret of creating self-marketing customer loyalty?

10 Words or Less:
Finally, to dovetail off of Mr. Gallo's advice, can you define physical therapy practice in one sentence, generally ten words or less? And, let me charge up the pressure a bit more - can you do this to accurately encompass ALL settings of physical therapy practice? I believe it's possible, however, I also believe this isn't a one person mission - this is something that both we as producers of our service AND the patients/clients as consumers of our service MUST DEFINE TOGETHER.

This is my latest way of defining "what I do" with the given understanding that a physical therapist is a healthcare professional (which is, at best, an assumption for much of the public - some people hear "therapist" and immediately think "psychology" or "counseling):

"I specialize in pain, mobility, and restoring ability for life."

ABSENT the working assumption that the individual I am conversing with knows that a physical therapist is a healthcare professional:

"A physical therapist is a healthcare practitioner specializing in pain, mobility, and restoring ability for life."

Am I satisfied with these definitions? Eh... for now, I guess. Why am I not satisfied? I haven't gotten a good consensus from my consumers to detect that this is indeed an accurate and favorable description of what I do. So, I'll pause for this moment to say: Please let me know your ideas via comments, tweets, or post to my Facebook!

I still hold strongly that clearly defining the physical therapist "Mickey Mouse Moment" is pivotally important to our profession. Once this happens, the physical therapist service brand will no longer be ambiguous, inconsistent, and scattered. However, there IS hope! We are indeed gaining grounds. I was pleased to see that even the Aflac Duck was receiving physical therapy! (April Fools much??? *insert smiley face emoticon HERE* LOL!)

My next post is dedicated to the #DPTStudent as I'll get into my 5 Tenets of Excellent Patient Education.

Until next time - I remain Yours in service,
-Dr. Ben Fung

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