Customer-Driven Health Care

“Treat every customer-owner like your auntie.” The words of Ileen Sylvester, Southcentral Foundation’s Vice President of Executive and Tribal Services, resonate with many SCF employees. These words not only set the respectful tone for individual interactions with customer-owners, but also convey SCF’s prioritization of the voices of customer-owners in decision-making. SCF’s Nuka System of Care takes customer-owner feedback and satisfaction very seriously – we believe organizational decisions and improvement should be driven by customer-owner feedback.

After a year-long collection and evaluation of customer-owner feedback, SCF’s Customer Experience Committee noticed improvement could be made based on the responses to the question of whether customer-owners feel their culture is respected. The committee moved to develop new culturally centered customer experience standards. After much consideration, SCF launched its Respect – Engage – Listen – Advocate – Thank – Encourage (RELATE) standards to better provide culturally respectful health care.

SCF turned to employee and customer-owner feedback to determine key topics for the RELATE training. “We used feedback from SCF employees to find out the areas they were concerned about. We also extensively researched customer-owner feedback to focus on the areas that needed improvement and incorporated that into the RELATE training,” Elizabeth Rasmussen, SCF Organizational Development Program Coordinator and Customer Experience Committee member, explains.  Based on feedback, the committee was able to tailor their approach to customer-owner needs. “We stressed the importance of respecting all cultures,” Rasmussen points out. With a wide range of cultures, “we made sure, in the RELATE training, that we mirror customer-owners’ body language and visual cues,” says Rasmussen. SCF follows the lead of customer-owners, since what is considered respectful is highly personal.

Rasmussen encourages all customer-owners to speak up, “Any feedback, no matter what we get, impacts what we do. If we get negative feedback, we want to be able to improve what happened so the same experience isn’t repeated. If we get positive feedback, we want to be able to recognize the people involved and to use that example as a best practice for others to follow.” SCF depends on the voice of the customer to ensure we provide care that best suits customer-owner needs.