Harnessing the power of patients
At the latest event in our Perspectives series, organised by Kaleidoscope and Hilary Berg Consulting, we explored the fascinating topic of how to harness patient power and use the potential of customers to win hearts and minds. The discussion was led by Dr Simon Lewis (Clinical Psychologist), Hil Berg (former Interim Director of Marketing and Communications) and John McGrath (Key Worker) who delivered an inspiring presentation on a unique patient participation group at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. They delved into how the FRESH Group of 13-17 year old patients have not only transformed Alder Hey’s CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) but have achieved national acclaim for their award-winning campaigning work.
A roundtable discussion then followed in which attendees explored many aspects of the presentation, including how the approach used by the FRESH Group could be replicated across many different settings beyond mental health; the opportunities to create cross-sector partnerships to maximise impact; and the necessity to establish a robust business case to build momentum.
While the discussion was varied and a range of fascinating areas were covered, there were five key themes that emerged as being the common thread for truly harnessing the potential of customers:
It takes the courage and bravery of everyone involved to harness the true potential of customers to win hearts and minds. This runs from the customer themselves right through to employees, leaders and the whole organisation. It requires an open-minded approach to delivering positive change, and a level of comfort with the fact that perhaps we don’t know all the answers on our own, but as a collective we can find out.
Only by putting in place mechanisms for customers to openly share their views, fears and feelings can we identify true opportunities that will make a difference. This is about genuinely listening and acting on what we hear, not simply ticking a box. We must put aside our pre-supposed views on what is right or wrong, listen to what is emerging from our customers and build from there.
A co-creative approach to achieving positive change is most typically used at the outset of a programme. While this is invaluable in setting a programme in the right direction, the true value of co-creation can only be achieved by retaining this sense of shared ownership at every stage. It must pervade every decision and have a seat at the top table of organisations. Only then can it be considered a game-changing approach.
The power of customers has been used to overcome significant challenges in all kinds of settings from health and environment, to retail and professional services. In each instance, irrespective of the sector, it seems there is a clear commitment to being open, direct and honest about the challenge being addressed. This is borne out through straight talking language and a continual focus on the ‘problem’ so that the energy of everyone involved is continually channelled in the right zones.
Allowing for a rich and authentic narrative to emerge provides a fabulous base for communications. Real stories keep on telling, keep on going, and keep on connecting with people.
You can find out more about our involvement with the inspiring FRESH Group by clicking here.