How to improve the customer service experience
Obviously, healthcare providers get it. We understand that the customer service experience should be foremost as a facet of our business and marketing focus.
And yet, healthcare organizations, as a categorical group, have been laggards when it comes to prioritizing and creating a great customer experience.
But let’s dig a little deeper and explore just what it means to truly improve the customer experience in healthcare.
When it comes to customer experience, the world of retail has a lot to teach us about how we can create a top-notch experience for our patients and customers. I’ve spoken about this on the Outcomes Rocket podcast at length from a tactical marketing perspective, but I’m going unpack this topic in a different way here today.
For the sake of clarity here, when I refer to the customer experience or customers, this also refers to patients and the patient experience. So now we don’t have to stumble over the clunky patient-customer question.
This is all about care. Personalizing the customer experience starts with caring about them. Retailers are obsessed with customer satisfaction. So one way we can approach personalization is to adopt some of the techniques that retail businesses apply to personalization.
One simple way to approach this is through your conversion funnel. Do you have unique landing pages that speak directly to your customer personas?
Most healthcare businesses have a clunky website that seeks to be everything to everyone.
But in retail, a great customer experience starts with specificity — a focused page that solves one problem.
So this could start with something as simple as creating unique landing pages for your different services or service lines that speak to a need.
How easy is it for a customer to do business with you?
That may seem like an obvious or basic question, but look a bit deeper here. There’s a lot in that question.
Are humans answering the incoming phone calls promptly?
Is your pricing model simple and easy to understand?
For more on this, check out this excerpt from my 9 Drivers of Healthcare Consumerism.
We can apply the principle of quality to every other area. This comes down to putting your customer first in every way possible and, above all, refusing to settle for less than stellar quality in the outcomes you seek to deliver. This could mean having the best staff, the most up-to-date technology or even simpler still, having a hyper-aware front desk staff that is welcoming.
So often, I hear friends and colleagues exacerbated, even flabbergasted by poor customer service experiences. Investing in an improved customer experience can result in a tangible ROI via improved customer retention, better reviews and more referrals.
Good news travels well, but bad news travels as fast as lightning. So if you think you can’t afford to invest here, think about what could be at stake by not investing in the quality of your customer experience.
Dovetailing with the plank on quality, customers expect easy access and clear communication. Having a machine handle your calls or an under-equipped answering service? This just won’t cut it.
Once someone books an appointment, do you send them email reminders? Text reminders? Missed appointments are costing the healthcare industry north of $150bn per year.
A failure to make attending that appointment easy? That’s just leaving money on the table, or better yet, burning it outright.
When you master the communication aspect of the customer experience, you’ll be ahead of more than 90% of your competition.
If you don’t believe me, just dial a few numbers from online healthcare listings and try to book an appointment. See what you find!
Once a person goes through the process of being your customer or patient, what happens next? Do you make it easy for them to set a follow up appointment? Or if appropriate, are you making the referral connections they need to take the next step in their journey?
Customer Experience In Healthcare
How important is it?
By now, you should be thinking about all of the ways you can improve your customer experience. When it comes to digital experiences, half of users surveyed answered that a negative digital experience with a healthcare provider can spoil the whole relationship. This is before they ever set foot in a care facility.
So I’d say it’s paramount.
What Is One Way AI Improves The Customer Experience
Is AI useful for customer service? Absolutely.
At a basic level, it’s simple to turn a clunky FAQ page into a responsive AI chatbot.
However, AI chatbots aren’t a panacea or a replacement for human customer service agents. It’s important to think more broadly about AI.
Look for ways to identify and solve common customer pain points automatically. If there are repeat offenders in your list of pain points — like hold time on the phone — these are places to focus on leveraging AI to create better experiences through features like time estimates that set reasonable expectations or implementing a callback feature that holds a customer’s place in the queue.
Customer Experience Initiatives Examples In 2020
Optimizing customer wait times doesn’t just happen on the phone. Increasingly, healthcare providers are finding ways to improve the customer experience through technology with initiatives like self-check-in and self-pay. For instance, Kaiser Permanente has both human customer service agents and self-check-in kiosks at their service centers.
Beyond this, there are a lot of trends happening right now that reflect the internal health of the organization back on the customer experience.
Happier, better-supported staff provide a better customer experience. Empathetic staff create a customer experience that’s worth talking about.
Good customer service also means actively listening to and integrating customer feedback to continue improving things overall. This can be as simple as creating multiple ways for people to leave feedback digitally or in-person.
Your customer experience can always be improved, and your customers? They are worth it! Marketing isn’t the only business-growing tactic to consider. The delivery of excellent services and products through user-friendly means? That’s huge. If you need some help to figure out what next step is right for you in your business, I’d be happy to work with you. Drop me a line or check out my consulting options to get started.