I can’t believe we’re at 21 episodes of The Chief Customer Officer Human Duct Tape Show. At about one per week (plus admittedly I think I missed a week or two), that means we’ve been talking to guests for about six months now. It’s been awesome! Even though I’ve been doing this type of work since 1983, I’m consistently learning new aspects of the craft and re-energizing my own customer focus for my clients by talking to these guests. This week: another great one. Welcome Jennifer LeMieux of Gaffey Healthcare.
The payment engine in healthcare – episode overview
Jennifer is Chief Customer Officer at Gaffey Healthcare. She took on the role of Chief Customer Officer in addition to her role of running many of the company operations, including outsourced solutions for hospital systems and healthcare providers and technology solutions for management and billing.
In our time together, we discussed the pragmatic path that she took in her first year to identify the major opportunities and work that her role needed to take on, and to unite the leadership team in advancing the work.
Jennifer is responsible for all technology-enabled services provided to Gaffey clients as well as managing the customer experience. In her prior role, LeMieux served as Senior Vice President, Strategic Accounts for Parallon, Revenue Cycle Point Solutions with a focus on broadening relationships and achieving incremental revenue across all product lines by working closely with operational and financial management at large, multi-facility hospitals and IDNs.
Jennifer has almost 20 years of healthcare experience – in various technology and service areas — with a bent for process improvement and project management, which was learned from her early days at McKinsey & Company. She is actively engaged in the local HIMSS and HFMA, holding two chair positions, and is the founder of Elisha’s Chariots of Fire, a community organization for families with special needs children.
The “in the trenches” model
Jennifer works with five “in the trenches” people who deal directly with Gaffey’s clients. This team and her looked at the top 100 accounts Gaffey had. For these accounts, they created an audit divided into two essential categories:
The risk category
For accounts labeled under “risk,” they used a 10-point scale to determine where the account lay across these four questions:
- Was there a relationship change?
- Is there an impending technological implementation?
- Has there been a decline in technology usage?
- Is a competitor involved?
The reference category
Using a similar 10-point scale, “reference” category accounts were classified along these three questions:
- Would they be on a referral call?
- Could they be counted on for a joint podcast or webinar?
- Would they participate in contributing to an article?
Merging risk and reference
It’s important to say this upfront: Gaffey has a very sophisticated, complicated business model that your business may not have. They needed additional steps and concepts (described above) to work within their specific business model.
Once the risk and reference categories were assessed out according to the 10-point scale, the results were shared with the leadership team. That created the platform for everyone to operate from the same page, i.e. one-company leadership.
The importance of leadership alignment
Jennifer felt that aligning senior leadership was one of (if not the) her greatest accomplishments in Year 1 with Gaffey. “It created the ability to focus on the priorities,” she explained. This is crucial, as we know: there’s been research from MIT showing that 67 percent of senior leaders can’t name the true priorities of their organization. In almost every business, the “true priority” is figuring out who your best customers are and delivering for them — although businesses tend to complicate this in a silo-by-silo approach that doesn’t yield much in the way of growth. “We established a reliable cadence for growing the business,” explains Jennifer.
The flip side of leadership alignment
When you have people with competing titles, or when new titles are created — as is sometimes the case with CCO roles — there can be a lot of organizational confusion. Who does what? Who “owns” what? Predominantly executives are concerned about who owns P&Ls for various areas, but this has repercussions for people and burnout too — some call it “the multiple bosses problem.” If you want to do leadership alignment right, who does what — and what the priorities really are — needs to be clear.
“What I know now that I wish I knew then”
I ask all my guests this “pay-it-forward” question, and Jennifer noted:
- Stay at the work: It’s hard.
- Be persistent: Again, it’s hard — and some other executives may not understand your role at first.
- Drive incremental change: As I always say, you need to earn the right to do this work.
Interestingly, Will Smith — one of the most successful actors of the past 20 years — uses a similar approach to Jennifer’s three bullet points to guide his career.
We’ll be back on Thursday with a new blog post. Enjoy!
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