Jay Lafratta had always been a Disney fan. So when it came to improving customer service at Massachusetts General Medical Group, where he serves as practice manager, he knew that Disney Institute was the place to turn. His past trips to Walt Disney World® had left him feeling "totally immersed in a level of service that I had never felt any place else."
Massachusetts General Medical Group, located in Boston, Mass., provides primary care for every type of medical need, including counseling, rehabilitation services, and diagnostic services. Lafratta says customer service is key in health care, particularly when serving entire families. He said his organization "has always provided what I considered good service, but I wanted to take it to the next level and provide great service. I wanted my practice to be known as the top practice in all of Mass General for service excellence."
Lafratta signed up for Disney’s Approach to Quality Service, a program that teaches ways to instill in employees a sense of pride and passion that is certain to help exceed expectations.
"Quality service is an aspect of business integral to any corporation, and that’s because we all share a common trait: every one of us has needs, wants and emotions," said Jeff James, vice president, Disney Institute. "The ability of employees to anticipate and react to these traits is a major step towards providing quality service."
Lafratta learned this first-hand as he went behind the scenes at the Magic Kingdom® Park in Walt Disney World® Resort and toured the Cast areas. "I was amazed by all of the programs that Walt Disney World® Resort has in place for employee involvement," he said. "Each and every employee is able to give thoughts and input into daily decision making—regardless of their position within company—which fosters a feeling of inclusiveness, particularly among front-line workers."
Lafratta returned to Boston and immediately put into a place a new system for communicating the practice’s mission to new hires, and a program for providing recognition and purpose to current employees. The new plan also allowed staff to make judgment calls related to patient satisfaction without management approval.
"The idea of responding to customer needs—and going above and beyond—is definitely not new, but the way Disney gets Cast Members personally involved and invested in Guest service is like nothing I’ve seen before," Lafratta said. "It also made me realize that we, as managers, may have unwittingly stood in the way of employees who were trying to do good things."
The response to the new program has been exceptional, Lafratta said. Patient satisfaction scores are up to 95 percent from 72 percent in the "courteous and helpful" category— an all-time high for the practice. And employees are happier and feeling the freedom to go above and beyond for patients, he said.
"One of our secretaries took it upon herself to give cab fare to one of our patients who, because his doctor was running late, missed his scheduled ride home," Lafratta said. "This staff member took the initiative on her own, without managerial involvement, whereas in the past, she would have felt as though there was nothing she could do for the patient."
What’s next for the Massachusetts General Medical Group? Lafratta plans to come back to Disney Institute for Disney’s Approach to People Management and Disney’s Approach to Leadership Excellence. "My feeling is that those classes are essential for someone like me," he said. "I aim to take not only my practice but also my personal managerial skills to the next level."