Do What You Say and Say What You Do

brand promise business health delivering on commitments fix this next for healthcare providers healthcare hierarchy of needs hhn sales sales level tara vossenkemper Jun 24, 2021
When we do not deliver on our commitments to our clients, we break the trust they have placed on us to assist them in their wellness journey. If we do this repeatedly, we will lose their business and the business of others.

|By Tara Vossenkemper, Ph.D.

I ordered a desk for my home office. I just redid my basement and carved out space for a home office (all thanks to peel-and-stick wallpaper and a couple coats of paint). Took me a very long weekend, one full day of help from my mom, and more than one night of working until midnight, but the final product feels worth it. The basement went from drab and awful to fresh and clean, with space for a desk and partition so that I can work comfortably at home, rather than in my bed, trying to stay hidden from my two young kids so that I could get work done at random intervals. 

La pièce de résistance for my new home office? A desk. Duh. I definitely need a desk in that space so that I can, well, sit and work. Sure, yes, I could sit on the floor, but I’m old enough that doing that long-term is uncomfortable and makes me stiff.

So. I ordered a desk for my home office. 

Four weeks ago.

It was originally supposed to be delivered two weeks ago, was late, got pushed out another week with an updated delivery window, and then was late again. And now here we are. 

Keep in mind, for this entire experience, I’m (im)patiently biding my time, working from home in my cramped quarters with my hunched back and neck, trying to focus amidst the chaos in the house and yells of “mommy” from my almost-four-year-old. He’s hilarious, for the record, but when I’m working, I’m trying to work!

Why does this matter? I guess in the grand scheme of things for me on a practical level, it doesn’t. But as a business owner and as somebody who buys lots of furniture, it does matter. 

The business didn’t deliver on its commitment to me. Hard stop.

They didn’t deliver. It’s as simple as that. And, okay, so I have zero (like, literally, zero) idea of how production works with physical goods. I have zero ideas about warehouses, supplies, or any of the inner workings of a physical product business. I also don’t know anything specific about this particular business. And guess what? It doesn’t matter. I’m sure they’re nice people who typically run a great business, but they still didn’t deliver.

Your clients feel the same way.

Regardless of what we have going on in our processes, systems, and business, it doesn’t matter to our clients. They’re coming to us with an issue or multiple issues, and they expect (and deserve) to be given accurate information that’s in alignment with what we can provide.

When we make promises to our clients, we must deliver.

It’s that simple. 

There are three levels in the Healthcare Hierarchy of Needs (HHN), comprising five questions each. The first and most fundamental level is Sales. The second, stability-focused level is Profit. And the third, efficiency-focused level is Order. Within the Sales level, there are five basic needs. One of those five is Delivering on Commitments. When you reflect on this, you should ask yourself, “Do you fully deliver to your clients - doing what your message promises, following through, ultimately meeting their health goals?”

What I’m not saying is that we need to promise they’re going to heal, be fixed forever, or never deal with any anxiety ever again in their whole entire life for eternity (can you detect sarcasm through writing?). What I am saying is that we can follow through on things like calling them back in the time frame we give them, seeing them at the frequency we think is best for their healing, using assessments as a means to gather objective data on their treatment. 

There are ways we can and should assess whether or not we’re delivering on commitments.

The interesting thing is that this question is usually phoned in. It’s overlooked. Folks respond quickly with an, “oh, yeah, we do that!” and then move on to the next question. 

And if you think you do, then how do you know? Before even being able to answer that question, there’s another question about your commitment. What is your commitment? 

When we break this down, we’ve got a series of questions to really assess. I’ve said before that the HHN is a surprisingly dense assessment, and this is what I mean by that. Yes, we have the question at hand about whether or not we deliver on commitments, but we’ve got implied and subtle questions within that question. 

The original question (“Do you fully deliver to your clients - doing what your message promises, following through, ultimately meeting their health goals?”) assumes two things.

First, it assumes that you have a commitment.

If you do, this is golden. Clarify it to yourself. What is your commitment to clients? If you don’t, then create one. It could literally be as simple as, “We see clients at our recommended treatment plan frequencies for their sessions.” Or, “We respond to inquiries within xx amount of hours/days/weeks” (although, dear lawd, I hope it’s not weeks). Or, “We ensure quality through abc assessment every xyz time frame with all active clients.” Boom. These are commitments that ensure follow through and movement toward health goals for clients.

Second, this question assumes that you’re tracking this information.

You have to track data in order to confidently answer this question. I beg of you, please start collecting data if you’re not already!! 

Here’s the deal. If you don’t have objective information to back up what you think or feel, then you’re throwing darts at a tiny-ass dartboard after spinning in a circle eight times and wearing a blindfold. How can you trust what you think when you don’t actually have the data to back it up? #RhetoricalQuestion #BecauseYouCant

How To Measure If You're Delivering On Your Commitments

We need data to back up our answer to this question. And if you don’t have it, then you shouldn’t say, “yeah, we definitely do this!” Technically, if you can’t provide the evidence to say that you do the thing you’re purporting to do, then it’s a no.

If you’re confused about how you collect data on something that might seem qualitative, you’re not alone. Here’s what you can do, though. Take a qualitative description and think about what evidence would suggest that description is true.

Would evidence of quality therapy be the number of sessions attended? Would it be a decrease in symptomatology? Would it be an increase in subjective well-being? Would it be weekly sessions initially and then a shift to bi-weekly after four months? There are many ways we could measure this, so you can make whatever it is work for you. 

Starting to measure Delivering on Commitments can also mean that you might need to change up some of your processes and systems. It could mean implementing a feedback measure into your sessions or conducting follow-up calls or surveys, or even adopting a bi-monthly standardized assessment. The sky's the limit on this one. That’s not actually true, but you can be creative with it! 

Please don’t phone this in. Treat it with the level of respect and care that you would treat your clients. I think most of us get into healthcare fields because we give a damn. We care about the people we interact with and we want to be helpful. This need is about business health and longevity, but it’s also about clients and their needs. We owe it to them, our employees, and ourselves to make sure that we’re doing what we say and saying what we do. 


Tara Vossenkemper, PhD, is the founder and owner of The Counseling Hub, an accidental group counseling practice in Columbia, Mo. Tara has since stepped into consulting in a more serious capacity, setting out to ensure that practice owners know both what they need to do and how to do it. Tara's favorite consulting-related topics center around tracking, culture, structure, and diagnosing core issues. 

Tara is known for her colorful language (#PuttingItNicely), love of The Office (#USVersion), neuroticism around dashboards (#FormulasAreLife), and hashtags (#AllDay). When she's not in the office, Tara can be found hanging out with her husband and two young sons, probably drinking a glass of red and wishing it was quiet enough to read.

Check out Tara’s professional bio and her practice, The Counseling Hub

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