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Strategy

It’s Gonna Take More Than an Apple a Day

Healthcare is a multi trillion dollar industry, and the war on client retention is fierce. Follow these guidelines to leave the competition behind and wow your customers. Open wide!

Lauren Dowdle
February 02 2018

No matter your age, gender, location or income, you’ll need healthcare sometime during your life. Whether you go at the first sign of a sniffle or wait until you’re on your deathbed is another thing, but we all use professionals in the healthcare industry at some point. In the United States alone, the healthcare industry is worth a staggering $3 trillion and is projected to grow by 5.6 percent annually during the next decade. With such a large and growing industry, there are several service providers for consumers to choose from — making retention even more important. So, what are the key factors when it comes to customer retention in healthcare, and how are marketers successfully implementing these strategies? We’ve put together some of the top ways companies in the healthcare industry are retaining customers, along with tips on how you can put the techniques to work too.

Speedy Service

Drive through most major cities, and you’re sure to see a sign for a nearby hospital that says how long the wait time is for the ER — and it’s normally 30 minutes or less. This trend is taking over billboards because being able to get in and out of a healthcare facility quickly is important to customers.

Takeaway: We all want everything to be available in an instant, and healthcare is no different. So, make sure your marketing efforts are staying up to speed, as well. Respond within 24 hours to communications from customers (both good and bad messages), and provide timely information. For example, don’t send flu information once the virus is already in full swing. Be proactive with your messaging, and plan out your communications schedule.

Keep It Personal

From a doctor’s bedside manner to the receptionist greeting someone by name, there are plenty of ways to personalize a patients’ experience. But to truly meet their custom needs, you first need to know who they are and what they want — and that’s no small task.

Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of Michigan tried to make it a little easier for their employees to get to know potential customers — and better serve and retain them — by allowing them to walk in their shoes. The company created a mobile experience room featuring a few customer personas that employees could learn about and hopefully improve how they relate to real customers.

Takeaway: There are different ways to learn more about your customers, including surveys, phone calls, big data and other analytics. Use what you gather to personalize their experiences, from targeted emails to using their first name in the subject line.

Put a Face to a Name

Whether you work for the largest healthcare company in the world or just yourself, you need to help people better relate to it. Because the more connected they feel to your company, the more loyal they will become.

Takeaway: Throw out the healthcare mumbo jumbo with all of your newsletters, social media posts and marketing materials, and instead focus on humanizing the company. For example, share a story about a satisfied patient’s experience, highlight one of your award-winning physicians or feature behind-the-scenes people at the office. Anytime you can put a face to the brand, you’re winning.

Make Things Right

No one’s perfect. So when a healthcare company makes a mistake, they need to fix the problem in a way that stands out more than what they actually did wrong. Take Zocdoc for example. It’s probably been about five years since I had an issue with them, but I still remember how they handled it. After a mix-up with scheduling a doctor’s appointment, they not only apologized for the trouble, they also gave me an Amazon gift card. I might add the problem was more on the doctor’s office than them, but they still went above and beyond to convert me into a loyal customer.

Takeaway: Follow up ASAP with customers who are unhappy, and find a solution that will show them you care about their satisfaction. A little really can go a long way, so be proactive about issues to help prevent churn.

Talk Money

Money is a touchy subject, no matter the industry. But it doesn’t have to be that way if companies take away the smoke and mirrors and get down to the bottom line. As more people are paying out of pocket for their healthcare needs, the importance of knowing the cost of service upfront can’t be understated. So before anything takes place, it’s important to let them know about any charge (ex. deductible payment, co-pay, etc.) they will owe. The bill shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Takeaway: Marketers can help expand on that level of transparency by offering things like patient portals, online chats and clearly written content. Remove any ambiguity to prevent confusion and build trust.

Send Follow-Up Surveys

Within a day of seeing or interacting with a customer, the majority of healthcare companies send a survey to see how they did. This feedback form can be anything from a link to a full-blown survey to a smiley and frowny face in the email body they can click.

Takeaway: The information you gather can be used to improve your services and give you a better perspective on what the customer wants and expects. You should also follow-up with them after they complete the survey, either to thank them for their positive feedback or see how you can make things better after hearing their negative thoughts.

How Healthy is Your Plan?

The healthcare industry continues to land in the news for a range of reasons, most of them more negative than positive. So, you must work that much harder to slice through your sterile persona and truly build relationships with their customers. Give your retention marketing strategies regular checkups to ensure they are healthy enough to keep customers coming back.

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Lauren Dowdle

Lauren Dowdle is an award-winning writer and magazine editor based in Nashville, Tenn. Her nearly decade-long writing career has covered everything from landscaping to marketing — plus being interviewed by Jay Leno and winning a backhoe-operating contest. When she’s not behind the keyboard, you’ll find her spoiling her four furry babies and exploring the city with her husband.

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