Kimberly C. Cripe: Four points that will help you create an extraordinary customer experience

We’ve all heard stories — many of which have taken on legendary proportions — about extraordinary service provided by the likes of Nordstrom, Disney and Ritz-Carlton employees. The luxury retail and hospitality industries have elevated customer service expectations in every business category, from fast food to financial, and yes, even pediatric hospital services.

The difference is that at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County, nothing less than children’s lives are at stake, and it’s our honor, privilege and sacred obligation to serve.

The prospect of entering a children’s hospital can be terrifying. A parent’s most precious gift, his or her child, is seriously ill or injured, and the accompanying fear, anxiety and confusion produce a unique and urgent challenge to create an exceptional and memorable experience.

Every clinician and member of our support staff — from accounting to imaging — must be not only technically competent, but also wholeheartedly dedicated to our purpose and passion. Therefore, we make sure our people are aligned and ready to excel in customer service.

Here are a few standards that transcend pediatric health care and would be of great value to any business that takes the time to consider them.


Hire for fit, especially during times of fast growth

Last year, we opened a seven-story patient care tower and expanded our employee base by 20 percent to staff new services. I lost some sleep wondering if newcomers would dilute our culture of compassion, developed over years of employee longevity and institutional memory.

I’m gratified that our new hires truly exemplify the attitudes and behaviors of “CHOC people,” a direct result of our rigorous, highly selective recruitment that tests for skill and alignment with our mission and values.


Train for and reinforce expected behaviors

New and veteran employees alike annually renew their commitment to a set of standard behaviors that we call iCARE principles. Performance evaluations include measurement of alignment to these principles, which reinforce the personal role we each play in delivering our mission.


Lead by example

We hold quarterly, daylong excellence summits to develop leadership and train on customer service tools we expect leaders to utilize throughout the organization. The curriculum always includes “mission moments” which feature inspiring examples of extraordinary service to our patients. The power of these stories cannot be underestimated; they are repeated throughout our organization and externally to community members and donors.


Take feedback to heart

We value the feedback of our families, and we share comments — both positive and negative — with our employees, including this one from a recent survey: “The quality of care we received at CHOC could best be described as life changing. It was so impactful, my little boy begged me to never take him anywhere but there again.”

A mother’s two sentences immediately reconnect us to our purpose and make us strive to provide an even better experience the next time he comes to CHOC.


Name: Kimberly C. Cripe

Title: President and CEO

Company: CHOC Children’s

Children’s Hospital of Orange County has been consistently ranked as one of the top pediatric hospitals in the nation.

Learn more about it at (714) 997-3000 or


Twitter: @CHOCChildrens