I thought of this idea on a recent post-op visit to a top healthcare provider. While the surgery was a clinical success, I wondered why my ‘brand experience’ was not. Was it my failed attempts at setting-up the initial consultation (stuck in an unending web of automated voice prompts), my inability to pre-register online (hand-written forms still required), the sharp (and I don’t mean in a good way) insurance liaison I had to engage with, or maybe my inability to connect with a caring professional post-op (online communication not allowed).
Waiting for my appointment, I pondered what they could learn from both Apple and USAA – two amazing organizations that I value and respect. Who truly put the customer at the center of everything they do and consider their perspective in every decision they make. Who design everything around their customers’ journey – processes, technology, policies, partners, rewards – so they all work together to support and reinforce delivering a superior brand experience. Not just meeting needs, but delighting customers!
So how is the customer experience for Apple or USAA relevant to the healthcare brand experience?
Because critical to your business success is understanding that your brand reputation is based on how your customers perceive their interactions with your organization – across every touch-point. It does (and will) determine whether they stay with you, what they say about you, and whether they advocate for you. It’s either you or your dreaded competition (and subsequent loss of revenue, referrals and brand reputation).
The customer experience is even more important in today’s competitive and complex healthcare arena, as healthcare consumers are finally empowered, have choices, and most importantly, have voices (social media and word-of-mouth speak volumes). Done correctly, it can be the true differentiator, lead to real profits and foster loyalty.
Now what if that healthcare provider I went to had thought about me as the center of their universe (which I should be), creating one team who understood and managed my customer journey – versus entrusting it to a series of internally driven silos that were not interdependent or supportive of one another? I probably wouldn’t be writing this post.
Below are 8 ways (adapting from companies like Apple and USAA) that healthcare providers can create change and begin to build a better “branded” customer experience:
1. Filter through a customer lens – map the customer journey, as it’s the only way to identify areas for improvement, opportunity and innovation
2. Commit to the details – make it easy to do business with you (KISS) as patients are just like us, and want to deal with providers who have a can-do attitude and will make their life better (literally and figuratively)
3. Create a feedback loop – invite and listen to what your patients have to say (across all channels) to identify the challenges they encounter and how to solve (targeted surveys, calls, social media, etc.)
4. Build trusted relationships – with ‘care coordinators’ trained to be go-to resources, assisting patients through the process, alleviating barriers, and delighting whenever possible
5. Focus on appreciation– shift from an operational focus to one that aligns around your purpose, value proposition and dedication to customer appreciation
6. Personalize the experience – behavioral data collection and analysis should be king, as insights gained will allow you to deliver more personalized care
7. Empower employees – engage them as they rule and have a huge impact on the customer experience, so make sure their ideas are heard
8. Embrace digital – allow patients to interact with you where and how they like, including information exchange using smart phones and tablets, as the lines are blurring
What do you think? How would you characterize your more recent experiences with your healthcare providers?