Historically, patients have little choice in healthcare providers. Times are changing. Patients are demanding more input in their healthcare decisions, including which doctors they see and hospitals they go to for their medical procedures. Healthcare providers are often one of many options available, so their success depends on marketing to patients….patients who are now customers. Maintaining a strong brand that represents the core values of the consumers they serve, differentiating from competitive offerings and generating positive customer experiences is key to surviving in today’s competitive healthcare climate. Healthcare, meet the business world.
Good consumer health is the most important service any healthcare provider can provide. Good business health, has historically been less emphasized in pursuit of this noble goal. Yet, the viability of the healthcare business is inextricably linked to its ability to provide the right care for the right patient at the right time with the best experience.
Below are six tips on how healthcare providers can create the positive “customer” experience that keeps their brand healthy and builds customer loyalty:
Employees Should Be Brand Stewards – Make sure that every employee embodies the core values of your brand and brings them to life. Compassion and respect – key elements of any healthcare brand – are far more powerful when they are an intrinsic part of everything your employees do rather than mere words on a wall or website.
Communicate Consistently and Compassionately –When people are sick, they often feel weak and scared. The healthcare provider who focuses on clear, compassionate and consistent communication will help create a better overall experience for the patient. Having a conversation, providing a written overview or offering a video explanation, can be very effective in helping patient-customers feel more comfortable. Successful communication between providers and their patients builds trust which is essential to a healthy brand.
Commit to Wayfinding – Sounds simple, but providing clear signage, virtual signage and online maps is crucial in making a patient feel more comfortable with his/her surroundings. This is especially important in light of the vulnerability and fear that typically come with medical issues that require hospital stays.
Think Like a Patient – When designing rooms, think like a patient. You’d be surprised how much the little things make a difference. For instance, position the bed so that the patient doesn’t have to turn her/his head when talking to the nurse, or provide a comfortable chair/bed for a family member staying in the room. These considerations add up to a significant uptick in the patient experience.
Act Like A Hotel – Welcoming and clean surroundings and updated furniture can ease patient-customer anxiety. Nobody expects a community hospital to suddenly look like the Four Seasons, but the look and feel of the environment can have a huge impact on the customer experience.
Valet Parking – Building on the hotel theme, valet parking is an important part of the patient experience. By making it easy for patient-customers to enter the facility and not have to walk through the parking lot alone, you send a message that you are treating them like they matter before they even get through the front door.
The sea change that is occurring in the healthcare industry puts new pressure on healthcare providers but also provides opportunities for them. It’s no longer just about providing quality healthcare…the “new norm” encourages healthcare providers to focus on customer experience to build customer loyalty. This means they should treat their patient-customers the way they want to be treated: with compassion, honesty, empathy and respect.
Every facet of the healthcare experience reflects on the brand. Even the parking garage.
By Marion Crawford
About the author: Marion Crawford, CEO, Crawford Strategy
Courtesy of mediapost