Three healthcare professionals talking
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How OneHealth by AXA uses CX as a key differentiator


In this interview with Christopher Brooks, MD of Lexden, Aleena Arotin discusses her multifaceted role in OneHealth by AXA, emphasising the strategic importance of CX as a key differentiator in the healthcare industry. She highlights her unique blend of operational expertise, transversal leadership, and a focus on innovative initiatives.

29th Aug 2023

Hi Aleena, and welcome to the CX Leader Series. You have the perfect title for this leadership interview so we're very excited to meet you. It is great to understand more about your role and specifically the sector you are working in and even the geography.  

Can we start by having an appreciation of your responsibilities in the role that you have now?  

Of course, Christopher, thanks. I'm very excited to be discussing one of the forefront topics of any organisation, which is the customer experience. Currently my role is split into a few different categories.  

I am primarily managing the client experience and the client team for OneHealth by AXA. And this is so much more than just customer service. When we talk about the CX team versus the customer service team, we're talking about the end-to-end journey and really going into the details of the end-to-end customer journey. From contacting and locating our businesses, the focus on the in clinic journey, right through to the feedback afterwards.  

CX is one of our key strategic pillars in OneHealth and one of our key points of difference from our competitors. This is a huge focal point in our medical proposition, and this is what makes us completely different to other medical service providers. I have a key role to play with leading the team in our CX initiatives.  

Another side of my role is transformation, which includes our renovations and expansion. Where every one of our decisions – when it comes to even choosing a new location, or even to renovate an existing clinic – it all comes down to the patient and their perspective when it comes to look and feel, engaging their senses as well as looking at the biophilic environment. So, all of that plays into every decision we make, right down to the color and the material we choose for the furniture. So that's another aspect of my role, which also takes up quite a chunk.  

We're on a huge expansion at the moment. We've got six new medical centers opening on top of our existing ones. Three of them have already opened and three are in the pipeline for Q3, which is great, and we also recently launched in Nigeria where we have both inpatinet and outpatient services. We are also continuing to build on our strategy to expand our footprint in the coming years which is definitely very exciting.  

Looking at your career. A lot of Customer Experience professionals we speak to have grown up through either service, marketing, or research. You've mainly been in operations, so can you give us some highlights? Because we work with people in operations who lead CX projects and you're cut from different cloth. It's a very different relationship you have with the customer because you are there when things don't go well, as opposed to selling the promise that someone else must pick up. How have these roles helped you shape your current role?  

I think it's made me who I am today. Operations is your day-to-day. It's customer facing, it's front end, but it also looks at the internal customer, which is your staff. How are they able to manage things? Are things smooth and easy for them? What is the relationship like between them and the customer? Everything through contact center to floor staff, to receptionists, to managers.  

Healthcare reception with warm wood interiors
OneHealth AXA

I've been in every single one of those roles throughout my career, so I can fully appreciate and understand their perspective. Because often, when you've just grown up in CX or customer facing roles, you might not fully understand the perspective coming from the operations team. This is where organisations find a lot of misalignment, and can often cause conflict cross-functionally, when one is seen as fighting soley for the customer and the other one is seen as fighting for the business and for themselves. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, and I fully believe that the transervsality of my role allows me to be the bridge and balance to acheive that harmony. 

Having all the operational experience behind me has allowed me to be a lot more engaged with the stakeholders in the operations team in every other part of the business because I understand them, and I understand them from experience.  

And another part of it is that my experience has always been in start-up to scale-up organizations. This is particularly important because I have actually witnessed and participated in developing teams from scratch. So, we're talking about processes and procedures right through to the day-to-day, and I think that has helped shape me into becoming a good CX advocate for both our internal and external clients.  

Private healthcare is a premium service for many. While the primary focus lies in the quality of healthcare received when needed, what are the customers' expectations regarding other aspects such as policy setup and functional customer service? 

That's a very interesting question because we’re not considered private healthcare. It is really a facility open to any member of the public, insured or non-insured. So, we have out-of-pocket patients as well as people who walk in.  

What we're finding especially in the region of Africa, is that the focus on CX within healthcare is virtually non existant.

We aim to serve a huge demographic of people, but what we're finding especially in the region of Africa, is that the focus on CX within healthcare is virtually non existant. There has been this historical culture of 'I'm going to a doctor or a physician because of his name, regardless of the location, regardless of waiting time, regardless of how old or run down the place is. I'm literally going just for a name'. As we witness the ongoing digital revolution worldwide, with social media becoming pervasive and normalized, people are increasingly aware of their entitlements when visiting any facility. This shift has transformed the healthcare industry, particularly here in Africa, and specifically in Egypt, into a retail-oriented model. The significance lies in positioning healthcare facilities as retail destinations, akin to malls, where every customer touchpoint carries significance. As a result, facilities like ours offering comprehensive services, are subject to heightened expectations that continue to rise annually. 

Based on customer feedback, we have observed a direct correlation between the level of service provided and the expectations customers develop for the future. These expectations are constantly evolving, necessitating our ability to swiftly adapt. Especially given the rest of the world is highly digitalized, and we're proud to say that we're on that road as well. Customers now witness the advancements and think, "If others can have it, why not us?" This creates a dual-edged situation here: we've got exceptional NPS and CSAT results because people are just completely over the moon with what they're seeing in our healthcare facilities. And at the same time, we're receiving feedback that they're wanting more and more, so the awareness is already there. It's just that the expectation was never that this kind of facility would be available to them readily across the country.  

I think it's very interesting in this demographic. If we were talking about a demographic like where I'm from Australia, from Sydney. It would be a completely different answer. 

You said earlier that your differentiation is the customer experience. Is that a strategic approach or are you more responsive to the tactical touch points and making changes to make it more experiential? Because you mentioned the five senses earlier, so where does that thought of differentiating an experience come from? 

It was a strategic move from day one. When the company was formed the forefront of the decision making was that CX is going to be our main driver, our main strategic pillar, our competitive edge. And once that was established, it served as the foundation for all subsequent decisions.  

Our design enigneer brought in the concept of the Biophillic environement which essentially is a design strategy that encorporates the embodiment of the five human senses into the design of a facility. By doing this, you are creating a welcoming environment that engages the subconcious which is extremely important especially in healthcare.  

Once we established the first clinic, that's where we were able to then start the proactive improvement measures, which is more of your day-to-day. And improve on how we're collecting feedback and all of the finer details of CX.  

There's always something new, something bigger, something better we can do.

So, we've really got both arms. We've got the strategic side, which we're constantly working on, and we've got the day-to-day, which we're also constantly working on because it's ever changing and never ending. I always discuss this with my team, CX is never black and white, and this is the beauty of this industry. There's always something new, something bigger, something better we can do. We are always needing to be a step forward.  

Is there an initiative that's had a really big impact on customers that you're particularly proud of? 

There’s been a few. First of all, the seamless in-clinic journey. That's one of the ones that we're particularly proud of because it really is a seamless journey. Our one-stop shop model means you can do everything under one roof, you don't need to go somewhere else for radiology or lab work. You can do all your tests, go back to the doctor, you've got someone guiding you all the way, you've got the nurse assessment, which is done before seeing the doctor. This is something that nobody else does in an outpatient facility here in Egypt. We've really managed to make the customer feel like a VIP in our facility. We've got modern-looking clean, crisp clinics that do not resemble cold medical clinics. We use warmer tones, we've got greenery. It almost feels like you're sitting in your living room in the waiting room, which is a really nice look and feel. So I think that the overall journey is something to be proud of.  

I think that the overall journey is something to be proud of.

But more specifically is our digital journey. We've got a fully-fledged teleconsultation service. This helps with the in-clinic journey because after you've finished your visit and you need a follow up, you don't necessarily need to come back in. We can organize a follow up for you over the phone very easily with the same physician. We've also got the digital pharmacy that we're launching, so we're able to deliver you all of your medications. You don't need to go out to the pharmacy to collect anything.  

At a strategic level, every aspect of our work is truly something to be immensely proud of.  

One initiative that captured the hearts of our patients is our kids’ initiative. We've introduced our OneHealth mascot, and he has become an integral part of our branding and activities. You can find our mascot engaging in various health-related endeavors displayed on our walls and in the kids' consultation rooms. We've also created certificates, coloring books, pediatric charts, booklets for parents, and branded gifts to promote health and create a positive experience. These seemingly small details have a profound impact on our end users. Families who visit OneHealth perceive this as a value proposition, knowing that there's a dedicated kids' corner where children can be entertained and engaged while parents navigate what can sometimes be a daunting experience. Capturing this aspect has been a notable achievement for us, ensuring a memorable and enjoyable experience for families. 

So, what would you say are the qualities that you need to be a leader in customer experience and customer-centric transformations? 

I think that the key word ‘leader’ versus a ‘manager’ is what it is. You need to be a leader. You need to lead by example and be humble while you do it. And I think that you need to be transversal in your role as much as possible. But I think that the key skill is communication. I think that your communication skills are the forefront of being able to initiate, implement, change any initiative or any objective that you have in any company.  

Building strong relationships with internal stakeholders is crucial for success. Maintaining a good rapport with stakeholders has been a key driver for success, as it fosters openness and cooperation. This is particularly valuable given the lean and transversal nature of our CX team, as opposed to a larger, hierarchical structure. The ability to establish and nurture these relationships is a vital skill that enables effective collaboration, alignment, and the achievement of shared goals. 

Dental clinic consultation room
OneHealth AXA

Clearly the work you're doing is pioneering and it's not following others. But are there brands out there that you can still learn from, that you take inspiration from in customer experience? 

Absolutely. Look at the world around us. There are so many big players who are excelling in customer experience, and it doesn't necessarily need to be from the same industry.  

When speaking about customer experience (CX) at conferences, it's common to reference big companies as they often provide valuable insights and best practices. Amazon, for instance, is widely regarded as a leader in delivering exceptional CX. By analyzing and dissecting their approach, you can identify practices that can be adapted and implemented in your organisation, even within the healthcare industry. While each industry has its nuances, there are valuable lessons to be learned from successful CX strategies employed by companies like Amazon and tailored to suit the unique needs and requirements of the healthcare sector. 

We're forever revolutionizing the technology we're using, the CRM systems, the digital components, and what our colleagues are doing globally, and how things are moving in different parts of the world. I believe that in any industry, at any level, there's always room to learn and grow. 

Thank you so much for sharing everything in the spirit of progress. Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to someone out there who's just starting on their customer experience career path, what would it be? 

Being receptive to both giving and receiving is crucial. Be as open as you possibly can. When I onboard new team members, I always emphasize that while they have tasks and KPIs to achieve, I want them to go beyond that and understand the purpose and bottom line of their work. It's important for them to see the broader meaning and impact of their actions. By doing so, they can fully grasp the significance of their contributions and how they align with the organisation's ultimate goals and outcomes. 

When you have a purpose to your job and you see the bigger picture and you are a part of something big, it motivates you to keep going. And what I usually say to people who are just exploring the CX world, because a lot of people still have this conception that it is customer service and nothing more, when you open their eyes to the world of CX and what it can encompass as the future they get excited. And when they're excited about their role, that has a positive knock-on effect for the customer and the patient, and on their results. And I think that this is the key driver for anyone starting out in this is to make sure you don't just look at it in a black and white sense. Open your mind up and receive what's around you so that you can make the best decisions moving forward.

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